Villains are an integral part of any film. In is very difficult to play the role of the villain. An actor has to get into the skin of the character he is portraying. It can be emotionally draining to get into the skin of a villainous character.
It is always easy to play the ‘good man’ because that is what life expects one to be. Being a villain in the film is the ultimate test of the acting abilities of any actor. He does not get anything easy. The measure of success of a villain lies in accumulating the maximum hates. The more the people hate your character, the more successful you are as a villain.
History has seen several legendary villains in Hollywood. Some of the characters have seen multiple actors play the roles in the sequels. This is a painstaking list of the Top 10 best onscreen villains in Hollywood of All Time. We base this list on the popularity of the character. In fact, many people do not even know the actual name of the actor performing their roles. They are more famous by the screen names.
Here are the top 10 Most Famous & Best Onscreen Villains in Hollywood of All Time
10. Tommy DeVito: Actor: Joe Pesci, Film: Goodfellas (1990)
At No 10, we have Tommy DeVito, a character in the 1990 gang war blockbuster, Goodfellas. Based on the real life story of Tommy DeSimone, this character played by veteran character actor, Joe Pesci was a perfect portrayal of a mafia don. There are many similarities in the character’s role in the film and in real life. He murders Devino (Billy Batts) in the film by shooting him in the head. In real life, Tommy DeSimone was also shot dead when his rivals shot him in the head. However, this role was a true test for the actor, Joe Pesci.
09. Anton Chigurh: Actor: Javier Bardem, Film: No Country for Old Men (2007)
You should expect villains to be emotionless and compassionless. At No. 9, we have such a character, Anton Chigurh played by Javier Bardem in the film, No Country for Old Men. This emotionless character goes on a killing spree for money. Hired by a group of men to track down the drug money, he ends up killing all those who hired him as well. The theory goes that Anton Chigurh is the alter ego of the sheriff, Ed Tom Bell who dons the role to do the actions that he, as the sheriff cannot because of legal compulsions. Javier Bardem has portrayed this ruthless character with great dedication making this character one of the most iconic villains of all time.
08. John Fitzgerald: Actor: Tom Hardy, Film: The Revenant (2015)
At No. 8, we have the versatile actor Tom Hardy playing the role of John Fitzgerald in the 2015 classic, The Revenant. This Oscar nominated movie has several twists and turns with John Fitzgerald at the center on one controversy or the other. Chased by the Arikara Indians throughout the film, John Fitzgerald manages to give them the slip every time while antagonizing his team of trappers as well. He kills a couple of his fellow trappers by using cunning methods before being found out and handed over to the Indians. The Indians finally kill him and throw his body into the river.
07. Frank Costello: Actor: Jack Nicholson, Film: The Departed (2006)
The No. 7 spot belongs to Frank Costello, the Irish-American mobster portrayed by the legendary actor Jack Nicholson. This mobster drama is a cat and mouse game between the mafia and the police with informants from both the sides infiltrating each other’s camps. The drama continues throughout the film with the police eliminating all the mobsters leaving Costello alone. Not one to give up so easily, Costello fires at the police only for the police to fire back and kill him. Jack Nicholson plays the role of the scheming mobster to perfection.
06. Amon Goeth: Actor: Ralph Fiennes, Film: Schindler’s List (1993)
Amon Goeth, a psychopathic killer, portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in the film Schindler’s List is at No 6 in this list of the Top 10 villains of all time. A commander of the SS, he orders the killing of the Jews in the Plazow Ghetto. The main antagonist in this film is a ruthless killer killing the Jews right, left, and center. He displays the pure Nazi traits of being sadistic and emotionless. Based on the real life story of the Nazi, Amon Goeth, this film showed the mental imbalance of Amon Goeth to the maximum.
05. Lord Voldemort: Played by 6 actors, primarily Ralph Fiennes, Films: The Harry Potter series
Everyone who has watched the Harry Potter series knows of Lord Voldemort. He is the Evil Incarnate in all the films of the Harry Potter series. Arch rival to Harry Potter, Lord Voldemort aka Tom Marvolo Riddle, has been played by 6 different actors. However, the adult roles played by Ralph Fiennes have evoked the maximum fear in the hearts of people. One of the biggest villains of all time, Lord Voldemort is a ruthless and cunning character portrayed to perfection by Ralph Fiennes.
04. Norman Bates: Actor: Anthony Perkins, Film: Psycho (1960)
Conceived by Robert Bloch in the novel, Psycho and played by Anthony Perkins in the film, Psycho, Norman Bates is a perfect definition of the word ‘Psycho’. This film shows Norman Bates as a patient of dissociative identity disorder with Norman Bates assuming his mother’s personality frequently. He commits numerous murders assuming the identity of Norma, his mother. On his arrest subsequently, the police send him to an institution for treatment where his mother completely takes over his personality. Hence, Norman Bates becomes Norma Bates. Excellently portrayed by Anthony Perkins, the dual personality role has the capacity of sending the chill down anybody’s spine.
03. The Joker:Many Actors including Jack Nicholson and Heath Leger. Film: The Batman Series
At No. 3, we have a fictional supervillain, The Joker. A permanent fixture of the Batman Series, the original Joker was portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the film, The Batman. Subsequently, we have seen different actors perform the role of the Joker in films as well as television serials. However, no one could match the versatility of Heath Leger in the film, The Batman Returns. Heath won the Academy Award posthumously for his portrayal of the ruthless Joker. The beauty of this character is that he does not kill anybody. He just loves to prove his supremacy over the Batman.
02. Darth Vader: Many actors including David Prowse and Bob Anderson, Films: Star Wars series
At No 2, we have Darth Vader, a permanent fixture of the Star Wars films. Appearing in seven out of the eight different Star Wars films, Darth Vader is a ruthless character deputed to recover the secret technical plans for the Death Star. Portrayed by various actors, Darth Vader has a reputation of being one of the most iconic villains along with Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter. Children love to play with the Darth Vader series of toys released all over the world. He has literally become a household name everywhere.
01. Dr. Hannibal Lecter:
Many actors such as Mads Mikkelsen, Anthony Hopkins, and Brian Cox. Films: Many films such as Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, The Red Dragon, etc.
The No. 1 spot undisputedly goes to Dr. Hannibal Lecter, an American media franchise featuring this character in a series of novels and films. The most notable portrayal of Dr Hannibal Lecter is by Anthony Hopkins in the film, The Silence of the Lambs. This is the third film ever to win all the top 5 Academy awards in a particular year. The character became a famous one with Anthony Hopkins reprising this role in other films like The Red Dragon, and the Hannibal. This is a truly iconic villain fit to be No 1 on any list.
You have just seen the top 10 iconic villains of all time in the Hollywood films. The villains play the most important role in making the hero appear good. Many a time, the villain does not get his due with the hero hogging the limelight. However, these top 10 villains are iconic in the sense that people recognize their performance more than that of the protagonists in the films. In fact many people do not even know the names of the actors reprising these iconic roles.