The Flix List: Top Ten Favorite Scene-Stealing Bad Boys

To conclude the trilogy of our Movie Villains post, I’ve resurrected the post I did nearly 2 yrs ago after I saw Public EnemiesI found the Michael Mann movie to be rather disappointing, but one thing is certain, Johnny Depp makes for a charming bad boy, the notorious bank robber John Dillinger. Hollywood does this all the time, making a ‘hero’ out of otherwise shabby characters. These are the kind of bad guys (obsessive stalkers, con artists, psychopaths, what have you) that makes us root for them despite their wickedness as we’re mesmerized by them more than we should be. In many cases, they not only steal the movie, they steal your heart in the process. Yes some are popular picks but I decided to include ’em because their performances hold up well after repeated viewings. So here they are listed in random order (it’s hard enough to pick just ten, I spare myself the task of ranking them):

1. Ben Wade in 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
I don’t even like Westerns but I saw this one at the theater because of the cast. No doubt Crowe is a charismatic actor who is just as compelling as a hero or a criminal, but as a bad boy, he certainly looked like he had more fun. The Bible-quoting outlaw played by Russell Crowe is a complex yet sympathetic character. Even Dan Evans (Christian Bale), the good guy who escorts Wade to the 3:10 train to Yuma, can’t help being drawn to the guy. The battle of wills between the two of them is the essence of the film right up until the end, with Wade having the last close-up and the one we remember more long after the movie is over.

2. Castor Troy in Face/Off (1997)
This despicable character is fascinating to watch, played by both John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. When playing Troy, each actor get the best lines and both seem to have more fun playing that character than the good guy Sean Archer. I probably give Cage the edge over Travolta as Troy, he is so over the top with his crazy eyes and flamboyant swagger, he seems to truly relish being a deranged maniac. I do enjoy Travolta’s performance in the prison-visit scene though, torturing the utterly-deflated Archer with utmost glee… “Ohhhhhhhhweeee, you good-lookin.” Man, I love this John Woo flick!

3. Phantom/Erik in Phantom of the Opera (2004)
When I saw this movie back in December 2004, I had no idea who Gerard Butler was. But just one look at this seductive brooding ‘opera ghost’ and you’ll know why Christine’s lured by him. Despite being the world’s biggest stalker, the Phantom’s extreme obsession is beguiling, yes even tantalizing. “Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation…” The Phantom sings, and with that Christine is cast under her spell… along with practically every woman watching that scene. The half-deformed rogue is supposed to be an ugly creature not much to look at, but it’s hopeless to try take your eyes off this Phantom. He’s the kind of bad boy who makes it impossible to root for the suitor. Raoul who??

4. The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)
The role that eclipsed the Dark Knight himself, The Joker steals literally every scene he’s in from the moment he appears on screen. With his maniacal laugh and strange gestures, the agent of chaos is obviously a scary creature but also pretty darn funny! That pencil ‘magic trick’ for example, it’s both comical but unsettling at the same time, and that interrogation scene with Batman when he’s got his head slammed onto the table, “Never start with the head, the victim gets all fuzzy.” I laugh so hard every time! The more I watch this movie, the more I become fascinated by Heath Ledger’s incredible performance, he was practically ‘lost’ in the quintessentially evil character that might’ve cost him his own life.

5. Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988)
The masterful performance by Alan Rickman always made the list of ‘best villain’ and rightly so. He’s cruel and ruthless but yet so refined, elegant and polite that I can’t help being strangely attracted to this ruthless criminal. Oh, there’s the voice, too, that silky smooth delivery that only Rickman could do. Gruber offers such a stark contrast to the crass and ‘everyman’ John McClane (Bruce Willis) and made the game of cat and mouse so much more fun to watch. Oh and that death scene, still one of the most memorable movie climax ever!

6. Vincent in Collateral (2004)
I’ve never been a huge fan of Tom Cruise, but reading the good reviews intrigued me to see this one. I’m sure glad I did, it’s a great thriller and Cruise is astounding as Vincent, a contract hit man on assignment one fateful night in L.A. The mega star rarely plays bad-guy roles throughout his career, but he really should do more of ’em. Sporting scruff, salt-n-pepper hair, and shark-gray suit, it’s a striking look on the naturally handsome actor. Vincent is meticulous with his craft but he manages to appear amiable on the surface. Even his victims fall for his charm… only to realize too little too late that the person right in front of them is pure psycho ready to take a life without a hint of remorse. Jamie Foxx is excellent as the ill-fated cab driver, but Cruise definitely steals the show.

7. Dr. Octopuss in Spiderman 2 (2004) 
Alfred Molina is one of my favorite character actors, so when he was cast as the villain in this movie, I was in for a treat. The biggest nemesis often start out as friends, and the same with scientist Otto Octavius and Peter Parker. In fact, Peter looks up to Octavius, but one devastating scientific experiment gone awry changes all that. I see Doc Ock as much a victim as he is a villain — he’s overpowered by those mechanical tentacles he helped create that despite his brutal shenanigans, I never quite despite his character. His fight scenes with Spidey is so awesome that it deserves to be on this list. I think Spiderman 2 is easily the best of the franchise largely because of the compelling villain.

8. V in V for Vendetta (2006)
I’ve written an entire post on this very character, giving my homage to Hugo Weaving’s spectacular feat of acting entirely behind a mask. As I said before, no matter how you look at it, V is a ruthless and dangerous terrorist. Saying that he’s morally ambiguous is putting it mildly, because no matter how you look at it, the masked vigilante is basically a radical extremist. But anyone watching the movie will be hard-pressed not to root for the other guy and be mesmerized by Weaving’s masterful performance. His inimitable speaking voice sounds even more distinct and hypnotizing under that Guy Fawkes mask. That self-introduction scene when he rescues Evey from the corrupt police is one of my favorite scenes of all time (see the clip on the V post above).

9. Elijah Price in Unbreakable (2000)
This is the movie that makes me believe M. Night Shyamalan is not a lost cause. Unbreakable is one of my favorite mystery thriller of all times and boasts not one but two of the most intriguing cinematic characters. Price is the ultimate tragic figure, a man disillusioned and embittered by his debilitating brittle bone disease to the point of becoming a mass murderer. But watching the comic book dealer, you can’t help being drawn to his sophisticated and cultured persona… it also seems customary that memorable villains are impeccably dressed and his fashion style isn’t just stylish, they say something about who they are. I enjoy watching both Samuel L. Jackson’s and Bruce Willis’ unusually nuanced performances as they’re sort of playing against type as polar opposite individuals who cross path under the most incredible circumstances.

10. Col. Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Quentin Tarantino’s got a knack for casting charming bad boys (Hello Mr. Blonde), but he outdid himself when he cast Austrian veteran actor Christoph Waltz as the villain that practically ‘dwarfs’ every other actors in the movie. He is such a nasty piece of work who only cares about his well-being. He’s not even loyal to the Third Reich because he firmly believes in its cause, he’s just in it because it benefits him at the time. If another leader with a totally different viewpoint comes along, I don’t think he has qualms about switching his allegiance so long as there’s something in it for him. He’s spine-chillingly sinister but yet so darn charming and quite hilarious, sometimes he conveys all three at the same time in just the way he delivers a line! The suspenseful opening scene stretched my nerves to their snapping point, but  Every award the film industry had that year for Supporting Actor, they gave ’em all to Waltz and rightly so. He’s one of the major reasons I was rooting for Basterds to win Oscar’s Best Picture!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Neville Sinclair and Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton) in The Rocketeer and Hot Fuzz, respectively
  • Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) in The Matrix
  • Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in Wall Street
  • Keyser Söze (Kevin Spacey) in The Usual Suspect
  • Dracula (both Gerry Butler and Gary Oldman) in Dracula 2000 and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, respectively
Please note that I decided to leave out female villains and those from animated features as they deserve to have on their own list.

What do you think, folks? Any particular cinematic bad boy(s) stood out to you?

46 thoughts on “The Flix List: Top Ten Favorite Scene-Stealing Bad Boys

  1. For me, Alex from A Clockwork orange is one of my fav. Malcoms performance was amazing. In the special features for it, one guy said some people thought his performance was too good considering how much of a bastard the character was up until the midpoint of the movie, and i can see why

    Halfway through the movie i was about to give up halfway, and then Malcolm managed to come off sympathetic, and i found myself feeling sorry for him despite what his character did.

    Jin-tai from Mother i would also put on my list of fav bad boys. Something about the character and the actors performance was just really striking to me

    I also really liked White from a movie called Exam. Even though he was kind of a douchebag he was just so charismatic i just couldn’t help finding him massively entertaining.

    1. Yeah I saw Malcolm getting a lot of mention in people’s villains’ list, but I haven’t seen that one actually. His eyes really creeps me out some of the photos I’ve seen of him.

        1. Oh yeah I will at some point, though it’s more fun for me to compile the bad boys list 🙂 Hmmm, I wonder which female bad girl you have in mind… does it involve Deborah by any chance? he..he..

          1. Actually i was gonna put down Esther from Orphan. Through that 1 role Isaballe Furhman went from a complete unknown to one of my fav actress’s. She was just so amazing creepy, and even when she was around more experienced actors she held my attention completely. If you do make a list for bad girls i will think of more(or i may end up making my own bad girls post) but for now i wanted to mention her

            And speaking of Deborah, i recently checked out a trailer for a movie with her in it, and my thoughts after watching it was “I don’t care if you have Deborah in it, you cannot make golf dramatic for me.”

        2. Jack Deth

          Hi, dirtywithclass:

          When it comes to scene stealing Bad Girls or Villainesses. One need look no further than Linda Fiorentino’s conniving, cold as ice femme fatale, Wendy Kroy in ‘The Last Seduction’ opposite Bill Pullman as her abandoned ex and Peter Berg as her latest patsy.

          Far more calculating than Kathleen Turner in ‘Body Heat’. Fiorentino reveled in her role as a grifting Black Widow and was robbed of an Academy Award when the film went to HBO before hitting the big screen.

          Second and third choice would both go to Ellen Barkin in ‘Sea Of Love’ and ‘Johnny Handsome’. Nearly playing detective Al Pacino for a sap in the former, easily holding her own oppiste Mickey Rourke and Lance Hendricksen in the latter.

          Fourth would go to Billie Whitelaw as the Mother From Hell with twin psychotic sons in ‘The Krays’.

    1. Oh yeah, Virtuosity! Seriously, there’s really no Crowe performance I didn’t like apparently 🙂 He really should do more bad boy roles!

  2. Ted S.

    Great list Ruth, def love The Joker and Castor Troy and yes I thought Cage did a better job of playing that role, even for only a few minutes.

    You know I like 3:10 to Yuma a lot but I still have problem with the ending, how Wade can turn on his men so fast like that just didn’t sit well with me. I mean his men risked their lives to save him and he killed them all after they succeeded!

    BTW, I read that you’ve never seen A Clockwork Orange, it’s a pretty intense movie. Not sure if I can recommend it to you but if you want to see it, I have it on BD.

    1. Cage was total bad ass as Troy… that scene on the plane and when he’s dressed as a priest. He gives me the creep but he’s so darn entertaining.

      Yeah, I thought that too about Wade though I don’t really feel bad for Ben Foster’s character. I guess by the end he becomes sympathetic with Evans, though not enough to turn himself in obviously.

      I don’t know if I want to watch Clockwork Orange, it’s really not my thing. But if I change my mind one day, I know who to borrow it from, thanks Ted 🙂

  3. I don’t know whether to be pleased that I’m #2 on this list or offended that I’m not #1… 😛

    Great list Ruth! I probably wouldn’t have Dr. Octopuss on my top 10 and I would replace him with Brad Pitt from Fight Club.

  4. Castor Troy is a def must-have for this list. I will say, however, that I’m not sure that Phantom would make my list. He doesn’t really come to mind when I think of villains. Perhaps that’s just me.

    A great post! I agree with Castor in adding Tyler Durden, but I might also suggest Denzel’s character from Training Day!

    Must say, I’m surprised that Voldemort from HP and Comedus from Gladiator is not on your list! 🙂

    1. Hi T. Yeah, I can see how you’d say he’s not a villain in the sense that we normally associate that word with. But he’s a stalker and a killer so he’s a criminal in my book, someone who’s morally corrupt and has a deranged mindset (I mean, he’s got a replica of Christine in his lair, talk about uber creepy!) But yet he’s so darn mesmerizing that I’d easily fall for him… in fact, this is the role that made me indeed fall for Gerry Butler 😀

      I haven’t seen Training Day yet, but I heard the guy is pure evil! I did consider Voldemort and Commodus but neither one of them is charming enough to be on my list, in fact I feel pity for Commodus than being mesmerized by him.


    Love this list Ruth. I loved every addition as I carried on down. My head kept on nodding, yes, yes, yes….

    Except V. I really didn’t like this film. There is no denying Hugo was great in the film, but I just prefered the comic. Each to their own I guess!!

    Great list (Yeay for Rickman 😉 )

    Have a good weekend


    1. Thanks Custard, glad you like my list! It’s uncanny we both are talking about Rickman this week on our posts… but I can easily talk about him every week if I can 😀

      You don’t like V? Well, I suppose I’m not gonna hold it against you as I haven’t read the comics. I don’t actually care for the character per se… I was more enthralled by Hugo’s amazing performance.

      Hope you’re enjoying your weekend, too! We’re going out of town a bit to meet up w/ friends who are visiting from Indonesia, should be fun.

      1. Weekend is good thanks Ruth, nothing as posh as yours but a little cycling with Pearly and a little Wii play with Daisy. Plus a family film night on Saturday night, Gnomeo and Juliet..HAHAH What a strange little film!

        Take care my friend and speak Monday


          1. It was alright. You have to like Elton John, as his music is going throughout. Nothing special or Ground breaking, but Daisy liked it as she is doing a version of Romeo and Juliet at her drama class.

            If it is a dollar, then I would get it done!! (I will put a review up tomorrow, on me blog)


            1. I haven’t seen Gnomeo, not a big fan of Elton and gnomes generally creep me out for some reason.

              Oooh, Daisy is doing Romeo & Juliet? That sounds awesome… what role is she playing, Custie? You must be one proud papa.

        1. Sounds like fun, Custard! I’m doing my weekend roundup as well but the movie I saw is a bit more somber. It’s a really good one though, it’s called Five Minutes of Heaven w/ Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt, it’s a small Irish indie.

    1. No, I’m not forgetting him… I don’t think I ever want to see No Country For Old Men, looks terrifyingly violent and my friends have warned me not to see it as they know I don’t have the stomach for such flicks. I doubt I’ll be mesmerized by Chigurgh judging from the trailer… oh and that haircut, sooo ugly! 😀

      1. LOL I suppose that haircut is annoying but when/if you see the film, whether you like it or not, you won’t be able to disagree when I call him a scene-stealing baddie. He is creeeeeeepy.

  6. Castor Troy is a great choice. One of Cage’s best performances in that film.

    Another great choice is Hans Landa from Inglorious – what a great villain!

    1. Glad to see everyone loves Castor. That is definitely one of my fave Nic Cage roles, but the film itself is also excellent.

  7. PrairieGirl

    Ah, yes, my all-time forever favorite bad guy I hate to love – Gerard Butler as the Phantom of the Opera… he could lure me to his cavern any day (or night is more appropriate, right?) ;-O

    1. Yay Becky! His underground home is called lair I believe, that’s what lots of Phantom phans call ’em anyway. Yep, I might not file a restraining order against him if he were to stalk me, he..he.. Btw, that pic I put of him above is the exact moment I went, ‘who is THAT guy??’

  8. Finally have time to read this 🙂

    Nice list…there are 4 I haven’t seen yet, 3:10 to Yuma, V for Vendetta, Phantom of The Opera and Inglorious Basterds. I can’t say much there.

    I really like Vincent and Elijah Price, those are two smart villains. They are so full of calculation.

    I would put Kevin Spacey from Se7en and Anthony Hopkins from Silence of The Lamb. Those two are such great psycho .

    1. Nov, you haven’t seen those four movies? I highly recommend all of them.

      Yep, Vincent and Elijah are intelligent criminals, and charming, too.

      Both villains you mentioned are definitely terrifyingly good, but I was really creeped out by them, so I won’t consider them as charming.

    2. I agree about Spacey and Hopkins. I think I’d have to include them in this list in replacement of some of these on this list. There are several that I could replace on there.

      While these are all good villains, only a handful of them did I really find to be scene-stealing great/brilliant villains.

      The Joker, Hans Landa, Castor Troy, Ben Wade and V. Hans Gruber to an extent as well. I mean he never struck me as just a brilliant character, but he was indeed effective, as his character is iconic in it’s own right.

  9. Richard

    Great list, Ruth. There was always going to be Ledger’s Joker in here, but kudos for including Hugo Weaving’s V. I love both the graphic novel and the movie for showing that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. It was a brave movie to make in this climate.

    But wait, where is Timothy Dalton’s turn in The Rocketeer? 😉

    1. Glad you like it, Rich. He..he… Dalton is the Honorable Mentions. He actually would make my list but since I have dedicated a post for his role as Sinclair, I feel that it’d be too indulgent of me 🙂

  10. Melissa Bradley

    Scene-stealing Bad Boys…Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Avengers, Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street, Michael Sheen as Lucian in Underworld and of course, Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector. Great post!

    1. Hello Melissa, always nice to see you stop by. I made this list a while ago before I saw Thor but yeah, I LOVE Loki, he’s the scene stealer in the film for me. Hiddleston’s so charismatic! Oh I like Sheen as a Lucian in Underworld too, great pick!

    1. Hi Brittani! Oh yeah, I really think that in Nolan’s Batman films, the second film is more about the villain as Batman Begins focuses more on Bruce’s journey. Then in the 3rd one I think there’s a good balance between the hero and villain.

  11. Pingback: Blogathon: 10 Actors I Would See In Just About Anything |

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