A measure of a great actor comes with his range and versatility. Some actors are great at heroic roles, and some are great at playing villains. But we end up loving all those who can pull off antagonists as well as the protagonists. Tom Hardy, Hugh Jackman, Matt Damon and many others are great at playing both heroes and villains. There are other great actors who usually play heroes, but totally surprise everyone when they play the bad guys. So, here are some 10 great villainous performances by heroic actors.
Tom Cruise in Collateral
We usually see Tom Cruise running around as Ethan Hunt, or even Jack Reacher. But he played the stone-cold assassin, Vincent in 2004’s Collateral. And it is crazy that this performance of uncle Tom usually gets overshadowed by his other roles. His part as the white haired villain was probably even more bad-ass than his usual protagonists are.
Denzel Washington in Training Day
There’s no denying the fact that Mr. Washington can do it all! Sometimes he is busy playing real-life activists. Then there are others where he plays proficient combatants and gunmen. But his role in Training Day was nothing short of legendary! He played a senior narcotics officer named Alonzo Harris, who mentors the rookie cop, Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke). He proved to be a sassy bad guy with his unethical methods. You’ve really got to watch his suave performance if you haven’t!
Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther
We’re used to seeing Jordan as these spirited protagonists like Creed, Bryan Stevenson and many others. But he totally changed the game with his intense portrayal of Erik Killmonger. The way he prepared for the role was inspiring. No one expected Killmonger to be such a great villain. But Michael B. Jordan totally elevated Black Panther as a film with his portrayal of Killmonger. The villains that make heroes sympathize with him are really the best. And, that’s what Killmonger left us with.
Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained
The greatest feat about DiCaprio is that he really commits to all of his roles. He usually shows his immense acting range by playing these well fleshed out protagonists. But his part as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained was ingenious! He was so committed to the role that he even broke the glass for real. This intense scene you can see above shows how DiCaprio actually bled for real while he gave the take.
Liam Neeson in Batman Begins
We’ve seen Liam Neeson play several protagonists throughout his career. We’ve loved some of them, while many others went unnoticed. But the one performance which did not go unnoticed was his take on Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins. His portrayal doesn’t get a lot of credit ahead of Heath Ledger’s Joker. But he was in his own league of awesomeness!
Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator
Schwarzenegger may not have been great as Mr. Freeze. But, his performance as the T-800 is legendary. Obviously, the Terminator was turned into a good cybernetic organism from Judgement Day onwards. But before that, he was this feared killing machine that stopped at nothing. Arnie’s first performance as the Terminator was really one of a kind.
Paul Rudd in Mute
We’re used to seeing Paul Rudd play these lovable heroes like Ant-Man. But he broke bad in 2018’s Netflix original, Mute. Now this is far from being the greatest movies of all time. In fact, you may not even like the film despite having Alexander Skarsgård in it. But Paul Rudd totally stands out as the highlight of the film, playing Cactus Bill.
Christian Bale in American Psycho
Bale’s part in American Psycho really turned a lot of eyes towards him. This was the role that set the stage for him to reach his current pinnacle point in Hollywood. His performance as the psychopathic Patrick Bateman was commendable. And now, we cannot wait for him to play another villain in the MCU, i.e. Gorr the Godbutcher.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Spider-Man: Far From Home
Gyllenhaal usually plays these complex heroes in most of his films. But he made his MCU debut as the mysterious antagonist, who really had Spider-Man fooled at every step. I mean besides Thanos, he was the only villain that actually made the protagonist pay. He may seem dead for now, but we’re pretty sure that he is alive and totally ready to return in Spider-Man 3.
Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas
Hanks has admitted that he doesn’t think that he could deliver the frightening factor of a villainous role. That’s why he doesn’t play a lot of bad guys. But what’s crazy is that he played 6 characters in Cloud Atlas, and three of them were super evil! It’s just sad that the film bombed, and Hanks’ very out of the blue performances went quite unnoticed.