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