The 15 greatest movie villain actors of all time

It is believed that one of the toughest things to play in movies are villain roles. Even professional actors and actresses sometimes have a hard time portraying negative characters on screen. However, there’s a group of actors in Hollywood so well versed in depicting bad guys that it seems like they were born to play that character.

Today, we here at Bright Side have gathered together a list of the 15 greatest actors and actresses that are masters at playing the anti-hero.

Heath Ledger — Joker

The Dark Knight, 2008

Perhaps one of the greatest roles by Australian actor Heath Ledger is that of the Joker, the main antagonist of the 2008 film The Dark Knight. In preparation for his Oscar-winning portrayal of the Joker, Heath locked himself in a hotel room in London for weeks. He studied every single comic that the Joker appeared in, kept a diary, and practiced different voices to find his own unique style of the character’s voice and laugh.

Tom Hardy — John Fitzgerald

The Revenant, 2015

Tom Hardy did a magnificent job playing the villainous John Fitzgerald in The Revenant. Many people believe that his brilliant acting is the core of the success of this award-winning film.

Gary Oldman — Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg

The Fifth Element, 1997

When it comes to playing villains, Gary Oldman is probably one of the best. This actor knows how to play bad guys perfectly, but his role as Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in Luc Besson's The Fifth Element is one of his most memorable and greatest performances.

Ralph Fiennes — Lord Voldemort

The Harry Potter films, 2001-2011

Ralph Fiennes has been in a number of notable films where he played mostly negative characters. But his portrayal of Harry Potter's nemesis Lord Voldemort, aka The Dark Lord, deserves special attention.

Glenn Close — Cruella de Vil

101 Dalmatians, 1996

Glenn Cose was already 35-years-old when she made her film debut. However, her relatively late start as an actress hasn't prevented her from delivering a wonderful performance as Cruella De Vil in "101 Dalmatians."

Jared Leto — The Joker

Suicide Squad, 2016

This sci-fi movie, which stars Jared Leto as The Joker, the film's main antagonist, is expected to release this summer. Don't miss it!

Kevin Spacey — John Doe

Seven, 1995

Kevin Spacey is one of the most successful and popular Hollywood actors. His acting talent knows no bounds: it seems like there is no role too big for him. His skillful portrayal of serial killer John Doe in the movie "Seven" deserves a special mention.

Joaquin Phoenix — Emperor Commodus

Gladiator, 2000

The role of the evil emperor Commodus in Gladiator has made Joaquin Phoenix one of the best movie villains ever. This talented actor is extremely brilliant in depicting the Emperor's emotional torment. He makes the audience literally hate his character.

Christoph Waltz — Hans Landa

Inglourious Basterds, 2009

Christoph Waltz, an Austrian actor, became famous after he starred in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds. The role of SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa in this movie won him an Academy Award. 

Angelina Jolie — Maleficent

Maleficent, 2014

Most reviewers of the dark fantasy film "Maleficent" agree that Angelina Jolie did a brilliant job in portraying the evil witch.

Ben Kingsley — The Mandarin

Iron Man 3, 2013

Ben Kingsley, an actor who has tremendous charisma, has appeared in dozens of films already. But, he is best known for his portrayal of "The Mandarin," the sinister head of the terrorist organization in the third “Iron Man” film. 

Rutger Hauer — John Ryder

The Hitcher, 1986

Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has earned a reputation as being one of the most talented actors at playing sinister villains. His performance as psychopathic killer John Ryder in the 1986 version of The Hitcher is just perfect.

Helena Bonham Carter — The Queen of Hearts

Alice in Wonderland, 2010

Bright and charismatic, Helena Bonham Carter is wicked good at portraying dark characters. One of her most notable roles is that of The Queen of Hearts, a classic villain from Tim Burton's 2010 film Alice in Wonderland.

Javier Bardem — Anton Chigur

No Country for Old Men, 2010

With his handsome looks, Spanish actor Javier Bardem is best known for playing villainous roles, including the depraved serial killer in the Coen brothers’ film "No Country For Old Men." For this role, Javier received the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.

Anthony Hopkins — Hannibal Lecter

The Silence of the Lambs, 1991

Multi-talented and multi-faceted, Sir Anthony Hopkins is, without a doubt, a genius actor. Most people remember him from The Silence of the Lambs, where he played Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath. This role got him an Oscar for Best Actor.

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