Top 10 Greatest Movie Villain Actors

This is not a list of the great villains who have been played in cinema (Although that is an eventual by-product), but rather a list of the outstanding actors that played these roles, oftentimes on multiple occasions. Some here are known as playing almost solely villains, some have played a number of different character types through the years, but its the treacherous villain(s) they played that stand out. There's just something about a believable, eerie bad guy that can carry a film to greatness. Its also these roles that character actors of all types want desperately to play, they can define their careers. While this top 10 represent only my 10 favorites, there are a number of character actors omitted who could have easily made the list, please feel free to add any you feel deserve recognition.

The Top Ten

1 Christopher Lee Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee (1922-2015) was an English actor, singer, and author. He was best known for his villainous roles in films such as Dracula in the Hammer Horror films, Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, Saruman in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit ...read more.

Born to play a convincing villain, his commanding, booming and domineering voice alone demands respect. And fear. Has played Dracula on many occasions, and played the character very well, he remains my favorite to this day. Many here will remember him as the sinister Count Dooku in the "Star Wars" franchise. RIP Mr. Lee - CyberRat

Dracula. I Monter. Dracula A. D. 1972. And several other Dracula movies. The Wicker Man.
Lord of the Rings. The Two Towers. Return of the King. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones & Revenge of the Sith. The Mummy. The Fu Manchu movies.

2 Alan Rickman Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (February 21st 1946 - Janurary 14th 2016) was an English actor and director known for playing a variety of roles on stage and screen, most notably Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series and Hans Gruber in Die Hard. He passed away of pancreatic cancer in 2016

A villain staple, Hans Gruber is unquestionably one of the most memorable villains ever - CyberRat

Alan Rickman had a way of making any evil character believable, or any character at all for that matter. He was at his best when playing the villain.

He simply became the villain, and with that voice, nobody could do it better. He is missed.

3 Christopher Walken Christopher Walken is an American actor of screen and stage who has appeared in more than 100 films and television shows.

One of the best actors of all time

Waynes World 2 is his best movie!

There is just something about Walken that makes the skin crawl, the spine tingle and forces you to run into the night screaming.

My favorite of all times

4 Gary Oldman Gary Leonard Oldman is an English actor, filmmaker, musician, and author. Renowned for his "big" acting style, Oldman is one of the most celebrated thespians of his generation, with a diverse career encompassing theatre, film, and television. He has received a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award: ...read more.

Gary Oldman is legend no matter what he does, but there's no doubt that his most memorable roles involve villainy. I mean, his Stansfield in "Leon": absolutely chilling! He certainly has an affinity for the bazaar, sadistic, and the just plain creepy.

True Romance. (Drug Dealer With Dreadlocks) The Professional. (Corrupt Cop) Air Force One. The Fifth Element. (Leon) Murder In The First. (The Warden) JFK (Lee Harvey Oswald) Drakula. Air Force One. State of Grace. Lost In Space.

Gary Oldman has played some of the greatest villains ever, Stanfield from "Leon", Dracula from "Bram Stroker's Dracula, Russian guy with long name from "Air Force 1".

5 Tim Curry Timothy James "Tim" Curry is an English actor, voice actor and singer, known for his work in a diverse range of theatre, film and television productions, often portraying villainous roles or character parts.
6 Ralph Fiennes Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (born 22 December 1962) is an English actor, director and producer. A noted Shakespeare interpreter, he first achieved success onstage at the Royal National Theatre. ...read more.

With the 3 of the greatest villains already under his belt, it was impossible not to list him as number 1. Amon Goeth, Lord Voldemort and the Red Dragon are just 3 of the many outstanding less than loveable characters played by Fiennes. The Goeth character was one of the most terrifying, and brilliantly played roles in the history of cinema, in mho. His Harry Waters in "In Bruges" definitely deserves a nod as well. (One of the greatest, and funniest, dark comedies of all time). - CyberRat

Nothing can get close to his role as the sadistic voldemort, he was so crazy, he made the audience root for him. And don't forget his role as the dragon in red dragon, he was brilliant. And also as hades in clash of the titans

Schindler's List. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit. The Prince Of Egypt. Harry Potter. Clash Of The Titans. Wrath Of The Titans. Red Dragon.

7 John Malkovich John Gavin Malkovich (born December 9, 1953) is an American actor, producer, director, and fashion designer. Over the last 30 years of his career, Malkovich has appeared in more than 70 motion pictures. ...read more.
8 Michael Ironside Michael Ironside is a Canadian actor. He has also worked as a voice actor, producer, film director, and screenwriter in movie and television series in various Canadian and American productions.

The standard baddie in many major Hollywood productions throughout the 80's, and rightfully so. Very effective and convincing, albeit maybe just a bit redundant. - CyberRat

9 Al Pacino Alfredo James "Al" Pacino is an American actor and filmmaker. Pacino has had a career spanning more than five decades, during which time he has received numerous accolades and honors.

For Scarface

10 Kevin Bacon Kevin Norwood Bacon is an American actor and musician whose films include musical-drama film Footloose, the controversial historical conspiracy legal thriller JFK, the legal drama A Few Good Men, the historical docudrama Apollo 13, and the mystery drama Mystic River.

Hollow Man. The River Wild. Super. Trapped. X-Men First Class. Wild Things.R.I.P.D. Crazy, Stupid Love.

The Contenders

11 Hugo Weaving Hugo Wallace Weaving is an English-Australian film and stage actor. He is best known for playing Agent Smith in The Matrix trilogy, Elrond in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies, V in V for Vendetta, Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger and the father in Hacksaw Ridge.

His role as Smith was the best!

12 Tony Jay
13 Samuel L Jackson
14 Rutger Hauer
15 Morgan Freeman Morgan Freeman (born June 1, 1937) is an American actor and narrator. Freeman won an Academy Award in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor with Million Dollar Baby (2004), and he has received Oscar nominations for his performances in Street Smart (1987), Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and Invictus. ...read more.

Morgan Freeman was a bad guy in (spoilers):
Wanted. Nurse Betty. Dreamcatcher. Hard Rain. Street Smart. The Contract. Chain Reaction. Lucky Number Slevin.

16 Frank Gorshin
17 Kevin Spacey Kevin Spacey Fowler is an American actor, producer and singer. He began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s before obtaining supporting roles in film and television.

He's always the bad guy

SE7EN. enough said. - courier28

18 Jeremy Irons Jeremy John Irons is an English actor. After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969, and has since appeared in many West End theatre productions including The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the ...read more.
19 Jack Nicholson John Joseph Nicholson (born April 22, 1937) is an American actor and filmmaker, who has performed for over 60 years. Nicholson is known for playing a wide range of starring or supporting roles, including satirical comedy, romance and dark portrayals of antiheroes and psychopathic characters. In many ...read more.

The Departed. The Shining. A Few Good Men. Batman (1989 film)

The Witches Of Eastwick. Blood and Wine.

20 Vincent Price Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. was an American actor, well known for his distinctive voice and performances in horror films.
21 Cesar Romero
22 Daniel Day-Lewis Sir Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is an English actor. He holds both British and Irish citizenship. He has won 3 Academy Awards for Best Actor for My Left Foot, There Will be Blood, and Lincoln.

The undisputed champion of method acting, his roles of Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in "Gangs of New York" and as Daniel Plainview in "There Will be Blood" will go down of 2 of the greatest baddies in history. - CyberRat

23 Burgess Meredith
24 Robert Englund Robert Barton Englund is an American actor, voice actor, singer, and director, best known for playing the infamous serial killer Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street film series.

Best known for playing "Freddy Krueger" in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Robert Englund is best known for playing Freddy Krueger

25 Vin Diesel Mark Sinclair, better known by his stage name Vin Diesel, is an American actor, producer, director, and screenwriter.
26 Vinnie Jones
27 Robert DeNiro Robert Anthony De Niro Jr. is an American actor, producer, and director. De Niro was cast as the young Vito Corleone in the 1974 film The Godfather Part II, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Taxi Driver. Goodfellas. Meant Streets. Angel Heart. The Untouchables. The Fan. Heat. This Boy's Life. I know I'm missing a few.

Cape Fear (1991)
A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.

Cape Fear (1991)
A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a 14 year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.

28 Anthony Hopkins Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins CBE is a Welsh actor, director, and producer. He was born on December 31, 1937 in Margam, Wales. He is known for winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1992, and was nominated three additional times. Hopkins has also won three BAFTAs, two Emmys, and the Cecil B. DeMille ...read more.

He seemed to be a good guy at the beginning of The Wolfman, but near the end, he's revealed to be the villain.

Best known for playing "Hannibal Lector" in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

29 Donald Pleasence
30 John de Lancie
31 Javier Bardem Javier Ángel Encinas Bardem is a Spanish actor. Bardem won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the psychopathic assassin Anton Chigurh in the 2007 Coen Brothers film No Country for Old Men.

Quite possibly the scariest character I have ever seen on the big screen (Anton Chigurn-"No Country for Old Men"). A complete lack of compassion and empathy. Psychotic killing machine. Bardem has played other baddies, most notably in "Skyfall", but everything else pales in comparison. - CyberRat

32 James Woods

The Specialist. Ghosts of Mississippi. Casino. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Hercules. Stuart Little 2. Recess: School's Out.

33 Mako Iwamatsu
34 Richard Widmark

Although Widmark did play other villains in his career, nothing can compare to the ruthless Tommy Udo in 1947's "Kiss of Death". Every time I re-watch it, I'm amazed a character this aggressive was allowed to be viewed by 1947 audiences. It is a very good film as well. - CyberRat

One of the greatest - BorisRule

35 Christopher McDonald

KENT MANSLEY! - 445956

36 Liam Neeson Liam John Neeson, OBE is an actor from Northern Ireland. In 1976, he joined the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast for two years. He then acted in the Arthurian film, Excalibur.
37 Lee Marvin
38 Steve Buscemi Steven Vincent "Steve" Buscemi is an American actor, comedian, director, and former firefighter. Buscemi has starred and supported in numerous successful Hollywood and indie films.
39 Heath Ledger Heath Andrew Ledger was an Australian actor and director. After performing roles in Australian television and film during the 1990s, Ledger left for the United States in 1998 to develop his film career.

If for only that one role, he deserves inclusion. Ledger played nothing like his Joker in "The Dark Knight" in any of his previous efforts, yet it is undoubtedly his finest acting achievement. Scary, smart and decidedly twisted, Ledger's Joker took over the screen in every shot he was included in, and still resonated in the film many times when he was not on screen. Brilliant. It really is tragic we lost this actor right when he was on the cusp of greatness. RIP Heath. - CyberRat

40 Ian McKellen
41 Malcolm McDowell
42 Michael Shannon
43 Danny Trejo Danny Trejo is an American actor. He is best known for his "tough guy" roles in various movies. He is also a frequent collaborator of director Robert Rodriguez in films such as Desperado (1995), From Dusk till Dawn (1996), the Spy Kids franchise (2001-2011), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), Grindhouse ...read more.
44 Claude Rains William Claude Rains (10 November 1889 – 30 May 1967) was an English film and stage actor whose career spanned 46 years. After his American film debut with The Invisible Man (1933) he played in classic films like The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Wolf Man ...read more.
45 Jack Palance

Much like Michael Ironside, but in the 50's thru 80's, Palance was the standard of slightly crazed, intimidating villains - CyberRat

46 Robert Patrick
47 J.T. Walsh

Played the heavy or bad guy in: Tequila Sunrise. Breakdown. Backdraft. The Negotiator. Good Morning Vietnam. Needful Things. Sling Blade. Nixon. Pleasantville. And a few others I probably can't think of.

48 Matt Dillon
49 John Lithgow
50 Ed Harris Edward Allen Harris is an American actor, producer, director, and screenwriter. His performances in Apollo 13, The Truman Show, Pollock and The Hours earned him critical acclaim in addition to Academy Award nominations.
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