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From Zero to Villain: 10 Surprising Actors Who Nailed Their Dark Roles

Wealth of Geeks 3/24/2023 Elizabeth Ervin

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics. © Provided by Wealth of Geeks Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

Recently a Redditor posted, “I am looking for movies where actors that haven't played a super dark role came out of nowhere and killed a dark part. For example, I've seen Heath Ledger as the Joker, Zack Effron as Ted Bundy, and Evan Peters as Dahmer. I realize he's played dark roles, but not like this.” The internet responded with these top-voted choices. 

1. Robin Williams

Redditor Darkmoon nominated Robin Williams in the movies One Hour Photo (2002) and Insomnia (2002). However, other Redditors added these Robin Williams as a bad guy films to the list: Death to Smoochy (2002), The Night Listener (2006), The Secret Agent (1996), and World's Greatest Dad (2009).

Williams was a brilliant and complicated man, capable of making us laugh hysterically one moment and rendering us speechless with emotion the next.

2. Patrick Stewart

Several people agreed that Patrick Stewart slayed his role in Green Room. One user admitted, “Green Room is easily one of my favorite movies. I get a kick out of Patrick Stewart being in it, but I didn't find him that compelling. He mumbled almost all his lines and was scary in the story's context, but I didn't see that he rose above it in any way.”

3. Ben Kingsley

One use nominated, “Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast.” GodsGiftToNothing added, “Kingsley based his character off of his racist grandmother, which adds more depth to that character. She was a truly horrible woman.” Many other users agreed that Kingsley nailed this part. 

4. Javier Bardem

Redditor lostfanatic6 answered, “Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men. It might be one of the darkest/creepiest roles ever.” Polarchuck added, “People always ask for the scariest movie on this subreddit. Yet, no one ever mentions No Country For Old Men. Javier Bardem is the mac daddy of horror film icons in this film.”

5. Tom Cruise

Redditor jonnyb61 nominated “Tom Cruise in Collateral.” Several Redditors agreed that he nailed this performance. However, others further noted these darker roles: Interview With a Vampire (1994), Magnolia (1999), and Tropic Thunder (2008).

Cruise has shown that he can handle more than just action flicks.

6. Steve Carell

Burnt_Toast_Crumbs volunteered, “Steve Carell in Foxcatcher.” Many agreed with the sentiment. However, others argued he was also the terrible dad in The Way Way Back.

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Finally, l8nitefriend added, “Also, Steve Carrell is in The Patient on Hulu right now. It's a limited series, but dang, it's pretty freaking dark.”

7. Anthony Perkins

Redditor solojones1138 replied, “This is going to be real old-school, but Tony Perkins in Psycho. The guy was in lots of romantic movies before that. He was literally on the cover of Tiger Beat, had released an album of big band cover songs, and had this whole persona. Then Norman Bates happened. Still one of the best performances ever.”

8. Jake Gyllenhaal

DiscordianStooge responded, “Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. He'd been sort of jaded in many roles, but he was straight-up evil in Nightcrawler. He brings it back in Ambulance, too. Although, the movie is subpar.” Many users agreed that Nightcrawler was disturbing.

9. Anthony Hopkins

Greaser_Dude stated, “Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. Before that character, he typically played mild-mannered, aristocratic lawyers and corporate types.” Several users agreed he went from mild to wild as the notorious cannibal Hannibal Lecter.

It seems that Anthony Hopkins is at his best in dark movies.

10. Henry Fonda

NOWiEATthem said, “Henry Fonda famously went against type to play the villain Frank in Once Upon a Time in the West.” ECDoppleganger replied, “Best Leone film – or at least my favorite. It does have some stiff competition, and Fonda is great in the film. I'd only seen him in Twelve Angry Men, and Frank couldn't be any more different from Juror 8.”

What do you think? Did Reddit get this list of great actors coming out of nowhere with a dark role, right? Or are there significant roles missing from this list?

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock.

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