We become mesmerized and seduced. How far do you go before you stop? Once corrupted, can you go back to a state of purity? Nothing is more sweet than the taste of innocence. Just ask Humbert Humbert, from that famous book by Nabokov. Temptation is a universal, evocative power. The sly villain preys on your sympathy and they are able to charm you through lies and manipulation. All the while, you marvel at their wits. The more human the villain, the more interesting the story.
John Milton, 1667, Paradise Lost. In the epic poem, Satan is majestic, intelligent, fearless, and seductive. What is it about smarts and power? The fool is the one who believes it will set you free. The irony, of course, is the villain is enslaved to the very thing it tries to dominate. Happens all the time literature and film. It’s the Byronic hero sucking the soul out of a woman or the seductive, female emasculator. It’s the predator toying with its food, the powerful exploiting the weak, and the control-freak who needs to dominate at any cost.
Which one of these smart, misunderstood characters do you secretly admire?
But would you want them to baby-sit your kids?
Some actors have made a career playing evil so well, I wonder if they can turn it off when the shoot is over?
The modern-day actor who plays evil better than anyone is Ralph Fiennes.
“Don’t hate me because I represent everything wrong with humanity and all that is inhuman, too!”
Shindler’s List, Harry Potter, Red Dragon, The Dutchess.
Clash of the Titans, Coriolanus.
Ralph is in my favorite dark comedy, In Bruges.
When Ralph Fiennes isn’t playing pure evil, he’s hurt and confused: The Reader, The Constant Gardner, and The English Patient.
In order for there to be a hero, there must be a worthy adversary. Who have I left out?
Edward Norton in American History X?
Or perhaps Kevin Spacey in Seven?
Johnny Depp portrays confused soul well….