9 Villains Who Stole The Movie

Moustache-twirling scene lifters...

 

 

 

This week, totalfilm.com's DVD Club will be tackling Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

In the Sherwood Forrest romp, Alan Rickman's Sheriff Of Nottingham is a sarky comic delight and considerably more interesting than Kevin Costner's wonky-accented hero.

So we thought we'd look back at some great villains, who proved to be more fun than the supposed heroes of the movie.

And yes, in case anyone was wondering, we purposefully left off The Joker because we've already covered him...




The Film:
Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991)

The Film Thief: Alan Rickman (Sheriff Of Nottingham)

Heist Moment: Sadly, for a film that wants to be an enjoyable adventure blockbuster, there aren't that many moments of pure fun.

Until, that is, Rickman's character stalks on screen and proceeds to eat the scenery like it's been fashioned by gourmet chefs.

The Sheriff is a strutting peacock of a man - a fighter, a lover (he schedules wenches for 15-minute slots of his time) and a cruel, grasping, sarcastic fiend who delights in his power.

Memorable Line: “Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!”

Tea-Leaf Trivia:
Alan Rickman turned the film down twice, until the producers assured him he could do whatever he wanted with the role. Smart move...

Next: Darth Vader

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The Film: Star Wars: Episode I: A New Hope (1977)

The Film Thief:
James Earl Jones/David Prowse (Darth Vader)

Heist Moment: Sure, we know a little too much about Vader these days - having been exposed to his whiny, annoying Anakin days.

But Vader remains an imposing, impressive and awe-inspiring villain.

Who can forget his entrance, framed by the smoke of a battle in the corridors of the rebel ship, all black armour, faceless, imposing mask and brittle wheeze.

And admit it: you love the thought of being able to crush throats just by thinking about it.

If only we could've reached into the screen to squeeze Jar-Jar's larynx...

Memorable Line:
“I find your lack of faith disturbing..."

Tea-Leaf Trivia:
The sound of that famous windpipe-snapping force choke was actually created by crushing walnuts.

Next: Otto

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The Film: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

The Film Thief:
Kevin Kline (Otto)

Heist Moment:
We have to pick just one? Okay, how about his torture scene with Michael Palin's stuttering Ken, as Otto shoves chips up poor, beaten down Ken's nose and proceeds to snack on his fish.

Yes, Kline created a comic monster with the utterly stupid, yet somehow effective Otto, a crazed loon with a yen for violence.

He may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he gets the job done - at least, until he's crushed by a steamroller.

And the performance was so good that Kline scooped as Oscar for his work. So not only did he pinch the flim, he nicked the prizes too...

Memorable Line:
“You pompous, stuck-up, snot-nosed, English, giant, twerp, scumbag, f**k-face, d**khead, a**hole.”

Tea-Leaf Trivia: Kline pleaded with John Cleese to let him speak French in his love scenes with Wanda, since he's fluent in it. But Cleese insisted on Italian.

Next: Doctor Octopus

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The Film: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

The Film Thief:
Alfred Molina (Dr Otto Octavius)

Heist Moment: Molina is a prime example of the magic that can happen when you cast a solid thespian in a comic book movie.

He's great both when he's flinging cars at Spidey, and in the quieter moments, the bits before he becomes the enraged villain stomping through the city on massive metal arms..

All through his performance, Molina maintains our sympathies, even as he's hurling heavy cash sacks at Spider-Man.

Tobey Maguire does his best, but he's never as compelling as Molina.

Memorable Line:
"You've stuck your webs into my business for the last time!”

Tea-Leaf Trivia:
Molina suffered on set with a 75-pound costume to play the Doc.

Next: Agent Smith

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The Film: The Matrix (1999)

The Film Thief:
Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith)

Heist Moment: Like Darth Vader, the Matrix franchise hasn't been kind to the character.

Yet back in 1999, when The Matrix was fresh and new and exhilarating, Hugo Weaving's snide, bitter performance as Smith was a revelation.

Combining machine efficiency with a mocking sneer for his human foes, he acts Keanu Reeves off the screen and makes for a potent threat.

He's also great at speeches (see below for a small part).

After bullet-time, he's the most memorable part of the movie. Impressive.

Memorable Line:
“Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we... Are the cure.

Tea-Leaf Trivia:
Jean Reno was originally approached to play Smith, but turned it down in favour of Godzilla. Foolish!

Next: Gordon Gekko

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The Film:
Wall Street (1987)

The Film Thief:
Michael Douglas (Gordon Gekko)

Heist Moment:
Plenty of '80s movies had memorable villains, but few straddled the line between seeming good and evil better than Douglas' storming, Oscar-grabbing role as Gordon.

Embodying and espousing the greed-is-good mantra of the decade, Geeko's a swaggering, opinionated shark, and chews up Charlie Sheen's Bud Fox, and we'd pick his greed... for lack of a better word... is good" speech as the highlight.

He might be a wrong 'un, but we know who we'd trust our stock picks to...

Memorable Line:
“Lunch is for wimps.”

Tea-Leaf Trivia: Stone nearly didn't cast Douglas because of an apparent bad rep: "I was warned by everyone in Hollywood that Michael couldn't act, that he was a producer more than an actor and would spend all his time in his trailer on the phone".

He soon discovered that the opposite was true when Douglas blew everyone else off the screen.

Next: Annie Wilkes

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The Film: Misery (1990)

The Film Thief:
(Kathy Bates (Annie Wilkes)

Heist Moment:
Everyone remembers the hobbling scene, but the genius of Annie is also in the buildup.

Bates is pitch perfect as the enthusiastic, ingratiating super fan to James Caan's neurotic novelist, Paul Sheldon.

It's a performance of layers and poised mannerisms and for all his roguish charm and power, Caan can't match her.

Memorable Line: “God I love you.” This, mind, shortly after she's smashed his ankles with a sledgehammer.

Tea-Leaf Trivia: In original cut of the film, there's a scene where Bates kills a cop by running him over with a lawnmower.

She was disappointed to see it edited out, but director Rob Reiner thought it would only get laughs.

Next: Captain Hadley

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The Film:
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Film Thief: Clancy Brown (Captain Hadley)

Heist Moment: Sure, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and "Red" Redding are the focus of the movie.

And Andy has his big breakout moment.

But from the moment he stalks on screen and starts hollering at the prisoners, Clancy Brown's Hadley drags your attention away every minute he appears.

He's a brutal, uncompromising bastard and hates his charges with a vicious fury.

Drunk on power, he's eventually brought down, but not before beating at least one man to death.

Okay, so maybe he didn't strictly steal the whole movie - when the ending kicks in he's the last thing on our minds - but he's still a major scene pincher...

Memorable Line:
“If I hear so much as a mouse fart in here the rest of the night I swear by God and sonny Jesus you will all visit the infirmary. Every last motherf****r in here.”

Tea-Leaf Trivia:
Brown was contacted by several real prison officers offering help with his portrayal.

But he turned them down and concentrated on making Hadley a purely evil git. It worked...

Next: Frank

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The Film:
Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

The Film Thief:
Henry Fonda (Frank)

Heist Moment: An outlaw so mysterious he only has one name, Frank was a big departure for Fonda, who had mostly played kind-hearted good guys.

But Sergio Leone saw something in him, and so it proved  - Frank is an outstanding villain, a cold-hearted snake who murders an entirely family, including the 10-year-old son.

While Charles Bronson's equally mysterious "Harmonica" is almost his equal, Frank still stands as the film's best feature - and one of the greatest Western villains on celluloid.

Memorable Line: “People scare better when they're dying.”

Tea-Leaf Trivia:
Fonda showed up with brown contacts and stubble, but Leone told him to shave and stick with his natural blue eyes. It worked to perfection...

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Comments

    • gambit21

      Aug 11th 2009, 10:57

      How could Nicholson's Joker be left out and indeed Ledger's.

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    • JoWareham

      Aug 11th 2009, 12:34

      Where is Marcia Gay Harden's terrifying Mrs Carmody from The Mist? She blows everyone else off the screen and manages to be much scarier than anything in the parking lot.

      Alert a moderator

    • rosco2903

      Aug 11th 2009, 13:03

      How could you miss Gary Oldmans scenery chewing performances in Leon or State of Grace. James Woods in The Specialist. No Clarence Boddicker, Kurgan or Hans Gruber. Hang your heads in shame TF

      Alert a moderator

    • pimpernel

      Aug 11th 2009, 22:31

      I concur with gambit21 - where's Ledger's Joker?! And Kenneth Brannagh's Iago? Toby Stephens in 'Die Another Day'? And, well I know this isn't a film, but John Simm as The Master in Doctor Who - he definitely nicked the limelight from Tennant! Totally agree about Alan Rickman in Prince of Thieves! "I'm going to cut your heart out with a spoon!" "Why a spoon cousin?" "BECAUSE IT HURTS MORE YOU IDIOT!!" Legendary...

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    • allykatharvey

      Aug 16th 2009, 12:50

      Great list! Could have been a bit longer to include Tim Roth's magnetic baddie in Rob Roy and Jeremy Northam's contribution as the almost-baddie but Wickedly-Sharper-Than-The-Hero scene stealer in Enigma! I bought the DVDs for both of these for the stunning bad guys!

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