Greatest Villain Actors of All Time

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 Ralph Fiennes 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. 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

2 Daniel Day-Lewis 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

3 Alan Rickman 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

4 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

5 Javier Bardem 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

6 Christopher Lee 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 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

7 Michael Ironside 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

8 Heath Ledger 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

9 Jack Palance

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

10 James Earl Jones James Earl Jones James Earl Jones is an American actor who in a career spanning more than 60 years has become known as "one of America's most distinguished and versatile" actors and "one of the greatest actors in American history." Since his Broadway debut in 1957, Jones has won many awards, including a Tony Award and more.

Although the on screen villain was played (Mimed) by David Prowse, and then in the brief unmasking scene (Arguably the most iconic scene in the franchise) by Sebastian Shaw, its James Earl Jones' bassy, commanding voice that most of us associate with Darth Vader. It would be a crime to exclude him here. - CyberRat

The Contenders

11 Peter Cushing Peter Cushing

You may fire when ready. - HaloFanboy

Charming. To the last. - CyberRat

12 Gary Oldman 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: more.
13 Christoph Waltz Christoph Waltz Christoph Waltz is an Austrian-German actor that has won 2 Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor for his collaborations with director Quentin Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.
14 Tim Curry 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.
15 Kiefer Sutherland Kiefer Sutherland
16 Philip Seymour Hoffman Philip Seymour Hoffman Philip Seymour Hoffman was an American actor, director, and producer. Best known for his distinctive supporting and character roles – typically lowlifes, eccentrics, bullies, and misfits – Hoffman acted in many films from the early 1990s until his death in 2014.
17 Mark Hamill Mark Hamill Mark Richard Hamill is an American actor and voice actor. He is best known for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy – Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi and his portrayal of the Joker in Batman: the Animated Series.
18 Jack Nicholson 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 more.
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