There are quite some ways to debut as a big-time actor. One of them is by playing an iconic villain on screen. While it might lead to nix the career or typecasting, some actors managed to begin their careers by playing an unforgettable villain in TV or movies.
Some of these villain roles helped actors to launch their careers and become permanently associated with the character in an irreversible way. While each of them had a different story, these actors found their way after playing a villain on screen –
Rickman played Hans Gruber, an unforgettable bad guy in Die Hard. As a result, he got to play many other villains such as Severus Snape, Sheriff of Nottingham, and Judge Turpin. He was 40 years old when he entered the film industry. Being a prominent part of the Royal Shakespeare Company, he played Vicomte de Valmont for which he even got nominated for a Tony. Apparently, he passed away in 2016, right after finishing the Harry Potter series.
Tom Hiddleston, before playing the iconic character, Loki, played in quite a few British TV series and shows. But it was Kenneth Branagh who encouraged Tom to step into the auditions for Thor. However, the actor managed to crack the villainous character, Loki, God of Thunder’s brother in the Marvel universe. After that, he played Loki in The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and recently landed a solo Marvel and Disney+ series, Loki as well. Apart from playing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hiddleston has also played in The Hollow Crown, Kong: Skull Island, and Crimson Peak.
Arnold Schwarzenegger played the lead role in 1982’s Conan the Barbarian. But it was 1984’s The Terminator that changed his life completely. Primarily, the president of Orion Pictures, Mike Medavoy, pitched Arnold Schwarzenegger the project’s good guy lead. But when Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his thoughts on how the Terminator should be portrayed, Mike offered him to play the bad guy from the future. While Schwarzenegger had some reservations about playing a villain in a film, he ultimately took the offer. He could have continued his career even without The Terminator. But apparently, today, it becomes unimaginable to think of anyone else who could have portrayed this role better than the former Mr. Universe.
James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones played Darth Vader in Star Wars. He even played Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian and gave his voice to Mufasa in The Lion King. But his most prominent role never revealed his face. James even got himself un-credited from the first two Star Wars films. Even when Linda Blair played in The Exorcist, James Earl Jones echoed that it is Mercedes McCambridge behind the voice. But when it came to end credits, it was just special effects. Thus, when it came to Darth Vader, Jones echoed that he is also just a “special effect.”