Posted June 14, 2012 by Myke Friscia in Movies



As someone who is a professional script reader and story analyst and one who advises screenwriters on how to make their script better, I’m always quoting them a rule that can be found in any screenwriting book.  A good villain = a good movie.   A weak villain = a weak movie.  Alfred Hitchcock once quoted “The more successful the villain, the more successful the movie”.

A great villain is fierce, not easily defeated, wants the same thing as the hero – only for the opposite reason, has a unique strength, and always has a weakness.  It is also said that the best villains were once a good guy.

Here’s a partial of AFI’s list for The greatest movie villains of all time -  How many were once a good guy?

Role                                            Actor                                            Film

  1. Hannibal Lecter                   *Sir Anthony Hopkins                     Silence of the Lambs
  2. Norman Bates                        Anthony Perkins                             Psycho
  3. Darth Vader                 David Prowse/James Earl Jones            Star Wars
  4. Wicked Witch of The West   Margaret Hamilton                       Wizard of Oz
  5. Nurse Ratched                    * Louise Fletcher                                One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
  6. Mr. Potter                              Lionel Barrymore                             It’s a Wonderful Life
  7. Alex Forrest                          Glenn Close                                        Fatal Attraction
  8. Phyllis Dietrichson              Barbara Stanwyck                            Double Indemnity
  9. Pazuzu (Regan)                    Linda Blair                                         The Exorcist
  10. The Queen                            Lucille Laverne (voice)                    Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs
  11. Michael Corleone                The Godfather  II                             Al
  12. Alex Delarge                         Malcom McDowell                          A Clockwork Orange
  13. Hall 9000                             Douglas Raine (voice)                     2001 A Space Odyssey
  14. Alien                                                                                                   Alien
  15. Amon Goth                           Ralph Fiennes                                   Schindler’s List
  16. Noah Cross                           John Huston                                     Chinatown
  17. Annie Wilkes                      *Kathy Bates                                       Misery
  18. Shark                                                                                                  Jaws

* Won the Oscar for their performance

Anthony Hopkins plays cinema’s greatest villain of all time.   Watch a clip here:  Hannibal meets Senator Martin

Here’s some Hannibal Lecter Facts

1) The role was originally set to be played by John Hurt.  Hurt grew ill before filming and couldn’t play the role.  It then went to Anthony Hopkins.

2) What is Hannibal’s weakness?  Clarice Starling, and the fact he’s insane.  His strength – superior intelligence, strength, and politeness.

3) The first actor to play Hannibal Lecter in “Manhunter”,(1986)  was veteran Scottish actor Brian Cox.   Red Dragon is considered a remake of Manhunter, or the prequel to Silence of The Lambs.  Red Dragon will also be coming to the small screen as a TV movie.

4) Lecter actually holds the title of Count.   Count Hannibal Lecter VIII

5) His nationality is Lithuanian

6) Hopkins said he used the Inspiration of Hal 9000 to create Lecter’s Character.

7)  8 Years after the release of the film, Dorangel Vargas, an actual cannibalistic serial killer, was captured in Venezuela and named the Hannibal Lecter of the Andes.

8) The creation of Lecter’s character was inspired by an Italian serial killer known as The Monster of Florence, who killed 16 people.


In screenwriting, you’re hero has to be human, but you’re villain does not.


Anhony Perkins’ character in Psycho was based on serial killer Ed Gein.                           Ed Gein


It’s all about the eyes.

Part of building a villains fierce persona is showing how other bad guys fear him.

My favorite villains other than Vader and Lecter -

1 Jigsaw     played by Tobin Bell in Saw

2 Count Dooku      played by Christopher Lee in Star Wars

3 The Thing from The Thing

4 Mr. Blonde    Played by Michael Madsen in Resevoir Dogs

Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde delivers one of my favorite lines from a villain:

“Listen kid, I’m not gonna bullshit you, all right? I don’t give a good fuck what you know, or don’t know, but I’m gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to get information. It’s amusing, to me, to torture a cop. You can say anything you want cause I’ve heard it all before. All you can do is pray for a quick death, which you ain’t gonna get.”

Greatest Villain quotes:

1) ‘It puts the lotion in the basket”       by Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs

2) “You have failed me for the last time Admiral”     Darth Vader

3) ” A census taker tried to test me once.  I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti”   Hannibal Lecter

4) “The answer is… look behind you”    Hal 9000

5) “…cause no matter what, you will not get in my way”      Mr. Bobby D in Heat.











Myke Friscia

Screenplay Analyst, Writer, Director of Development for Gallagher Literary Management, Little Monster. "Words are my Passion".