A hero is only as interesting as his villain, they say. But sometimes the villain is so interesting that we forget the hero entirely. Have you ever read a book or seen a movie where you really can’t wait for them to get back to the villain, because he’s just THAT much more interesting?
Here are my three favorite villains, some of the absolute, scene-stealing, best villains ever:
Tommy Udo, played by Richard Widmark in the movie “Kiss of Death”. Widmark brought a creepy, unstable dimension to the role of Udo, creating a character so widely unpredictable and vicious that you had no idea what the hell kind of crazy shit he was going to do next. The creepy laugh, the dead-eye stare, the sneer of a smile that didn’t touch any other part of his face… it’s easy to forget Victor Mature was even IN that movie. “Ya dirty squit…”
Anton Chigurh, from the book and the movie “No Country for Old Men”. Chigurh moved through the story like a bad dream, implacable and as inevitable as Satan himself. You just KNEW that the erstwhile hero didn’t stand a chance once their paths crossed. Chigurh seemed to have attained some bizarre villainous zen-state, where even attempting to fit in with the rest of the world was unnecessary-- all that was required was killing these pesky creatures that stood in his way. Humans seemed downright irrelevant to him. Carson: “You’re not outside of death.” Chigurh: “It doesn’t mean to me what it does to you.”
The Joker, portrayed by Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight“. The Joker in all his incarnations has always been a great villain, but Ledger brought something truly uneasy and disconcerting to the role-- the gleeful embrace of chaos and the complete disregard for consequences. He was something a rational human being could never understand-- a creature without reason or obvious motivation, existing for no other reason than to kill and destroy. A sort of murderous anarchist. All of Batman’s reasoning and logic meant nothing in the face of this chuckling, slouching monument to discord. “Look at me. Do I look like I have a plan??”