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Hollywood Actors Who Play Great Villains

Updated on June 1, 2015


In movies, some actors just make better villains than heroes. Over the course of time, there are some that have played villains over and over again in various movies. Here are some common and character actors that could not shake the bad guy type-cast.

Billy Drago

Billy Drago

One of the more notable bad guys due to his role in The Untouchables, he's best known for taking down Sean Connery's character. He had various other bad guy roles including one of the marshals in Pale Rider and a drug kingpin in one of the Delta Force films starring Chuck Norris.

His sharp features and unique look made him a very good bad guy in films. He is a strong addition to this list.

Gary Oldman

There was no bigger villain in the 90's than Gary Oldman. He began the decade playing Lee Harvery Oswald in JFK and ended it Lost in Space as Dr. Zachary Smith. Notable roles in The Professional, The 5th Element, and Air Force One as the main bad guy locked him into the anti-hero role for the entire decade.

Luckily, he was able to grab a few roles in the new century that helped soften his villainous image. He took on the role of Sirius Black in Harry Potter and James Gordon in The Dark Knight.

Waltz in Basterds

Christoph Waltz

What Gary Oldman was to the 90's, Christoph Waltz has been for the past ten years. His turn as Standartenfuhrer Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds put him on the bad guy map and he has run with it ever since.

He followed up Basterds with a role in The Green Hornet as Benjamin Chudnofsky and then played Cardinal Richelieu in the seventieth version of The Three Musketeers. Recently, he played Burt Hanson in Horrible Bosses 2.

Severus Snape

Alan Rickman

For a slight British guy, he certain makes a good bad guy. First on the scene in 1988's Die Hard, he stood out with his bad guy elegance. He kept up the bad guy act in the 90's with movies Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Quigley Down Under.

He nailed the ultimate bad guy role of the new century when he got casted to play Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise. That's three decades of villainous acting.

Nicholson in The Shining

Jack Nicholson

While Nicholson doesn't play villains often, he does it very well. Here's Johnny! His turn as Jack Torrence in The Shining was as memorable as it gets. He backed that up with a role as The Joker in 1989's Batman.

He also got roles as Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men and Frank Costello in The Departed. Aside from his here's Johnny line, the 'You can't handle the truth!' is another that gets used to this day.

Bardem as Chigurh in No Country

Javier Bardem

While not the movie bad guy longevity of an Alan Rickman or Gary Oldman, Javier Bardem has played two truly epic bad guys in the last decade. In 2012, he got the main bad guy lead in the James Bond film, Skyfall.

The role that puts him on the list was his academy award earning turn as Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men. His creepy turn as a hitman with a unique killing weapon and even more absurd hairstyle was amazing.

Who plays the best bad guy?

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    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      I think you forgot a couple. One who comes immediately to mind is Ralph Fiennes, who stayed the evil SS officer in Schindler's List and also played Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter, both unparalleled baddies. Then there is Steve Buscemi, who has and still is playing a whole host of notable bad guys. If we go back a little in the history of cinema there is Bruce Dern, who was the king of the bad guys in the 70s. Great hub, great food for thought and debate.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I really like Nicholson in the Shining.