People Break Down The Greatest Villain Performances In Film Or TV History

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Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

When it comes to TV and movies, acting is everything. A good actor can make a bad TV show good, while a bad actor can do the opposite.

While the main character is the person viewers focus on for the most part, the villain may be the most important character.

Without the villain, our main character wouldn't be interesting.

The actor or actress who plays the villain needs to be top-notch. A great example of this is Imelda Staunton, who played Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1.

Umbridge was a truly despicable character, made more evil by the fact that she posed as someone working for the greater good and held a position of authority over all the heroic characters. Staunton did a great job portraying her exactly as the books described, and made viewers hate her just as much as we hated her in the books.

As the main villain in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a poor performance would've destroyed the movie. Instead, this is often the movie fans like the best.

Redditors know the importance of a good villainous performance and are eager to share their opinions on the best in TV and movie history.

It all started when Redditor Helloimafanoffiction asked:

"What’s the greatest villain performance in a movie/TV show?"

Worst Teacher Ever?

"J.K. Simmons is up there for his role in Whiplash. Hated his guts there."

– Xporttek

"I just watched that movie for the first time a couple days ago, I too hated him! Who throws a chair at a student??? Who embarrasses a student in front of a whole audience just for revenge and then have the audacity to say "I will gouge your f*cking eyes out"???? Hated him."

– Lejarwomontequadea

"Thank you for getting that he was a villain. Too many of my friends see his speech at the end about finding/creating a good musician as profound enough to justify everything he did throughout the movie. And they see the “reconciliation” at the end as a sign that he was a good teacher after all. Maybe I’m off base, but that wasn’t what I saw at all. I saw a power hungry, obsessed, abusive adult take advantage of a passionate boy."

– John__Wick

Origin Stories Matter

"Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister."

"His introduction where he lectures Jaime while skinning a deer is perfection."

– 501stBigMike

"Yes. His acting was far more intricate and nuanced than any other villian on the show. He seemed like a real villian, not just a character being played. Too often hollywood goes overboard on the evilness of their characters and makes them evil for the sake of being evil. Give me backstory. Tell me how they become who they are."

– NeighborhoodCold6540

Super Scary

"Homelander in The Boys. I forgot the actor's name but the performance is actually kind of terrifying"

– Carnaraa

"Antony Starr"

– Precumbrian

"Yeahhhhhh he is so very very very scary. Absolutely amazing performance."

– Haliwe

"Every scene he's in I'm always worried that whoever he is interacting with won't survive the scene, especially if they're not a main character."

– HappyChaosOfTheNorth

"Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds"

"That opening scene is just....... 👌"

– hackyslashy

"Tarantino grew so frustrated at casting that role, he was five days away from calling off the movie when Waltz auditioned."

""I told my producers I might have written a part that was un-playable,” Tarantino said. “I said, I don’t want to make this movie if I can’t find the perfect Landa, I’d rather just publish the script than make a movie where this character would be less than he was on the page. When Christoph came in and read the next day, he gave me my movie back.""

– Exact_Roll_4048

The Curl Of The Lip

"Any and every villain Alan Rickman played, the man was a pure genius"

– Psyco_diver

"Rickman's villain roles are always captivating. Hans Gruber and the Sheriff of Nottingham being the two more notorious examples."

– Hydra_Master

"Sheriff of Nottingham is my pick. Maybe not as high as others in the evil stakes but nobody curls their lip in disdain like Rickman."

– Swimmingbackwardsish


"Child catcher from chitty chitty bang bang .. this one performance might have stopped many rl kidnappings."

– nineties_nostalgia

"Was the first film character that truly terrified me"

– 2020_really_sucks_

"Yeah nightmare fuel for sure, he was a ballet dancer in real life."

– nineties_nostalgia

Is There A Right Answer?

"Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh."

– f*ckyourlandlord

"To this day, I still wonder what the right answer to "Do you see me?" is."

– PaulsRedditUsername

So Very Hateable

"Commodus in Gladiator"

– SimonApexPlayer

"One of the first movie characters I actually hated. And that one a**hole from The Green Mile."

– heylittledog

Why So Serious?

"The Joker by Heath Ledger"

– Adalbjorg_Hiraeth

"I think it’s too easy of an answer so people are going with other stuff. He is the GOAT for that performance."

– CappinPeanut

"Absolutely this one. Crazy, maniacal, insane, unhinged - he’s just so damn convincing. 100% my favorite Batman film."

– mrshfter

Rage Inducing

"David Tennant in Jessica Jones."

– jennyrob669

"I absolutely adore David Tennant, in a Doctor Who—obsessed kind of way. And Kilgrave terrifies me to my core. It was really difficult to reconcile. He did such a good job being positively chilling."

– Lionswithwands

"The man has range."

– Tudpool

"Man he felt straight up menacing and nothing redeemable about him."

– Konebred

"I’ve never wanted to step into the screen and kill the bad guy more than this character."

– Primary_Difficulty19

Brilliantly Done

"Really enjoyed Andrew Scott’s portrayal as Moriarty in Sherlock."

– GlennSWFC

"Of course people are going to die, because that's what people DO!!!!"

"He was such an enjoyable unhinged maniac in that show."

– Hydra_Master

The Ultimate Anti-Hero

"Walter White"

"Probably the most complex and realistic evil character both in writing and performance. So complex that you honestly might not call him a villain at all. He's something like a good person who does evil things with good intentions and evil reasons. And Bryan Cranston's portrayal of him is awesome."

– PaulsRedditUsername

Animated Villain

"Azula in Avatar the Last Airbender"

– nicoledtn

"The scene where she and Zuko fight is so amazing. You see her unhinge and slowly lose her sh*t up to that scene. She finally goes crazy and it’s brilliant."

– vaulter2000

"Grey Griffin was the best voice actor for the role. Intimidating but cool."

– Sleepy_H34D

Azula was always my favorite villain!

Who would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.

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