Actors who portrayed villains so well that people hate them


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Some actors are so convincing in portraying antagonists that audiences find themselves loathing the actor just as much as the character they play.

From psychopathic serial killers to Machiavellian masterminds, these actors have proven that there’s a fine art to being a truly hated villain on screen.

Here are some of the best actors who portrayed villains so well, people hate them for real.

Note: While most of the following movies and TV shows premiered ages ago, for those living under a rock, there are spoilers ahead!

Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in ‘Harry Potter’

Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in 'Harry Potter'

We could say Professor Dolores Umbridge was a likable character in “Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix,” but “we must tell no lies.”

With her saccharine-sweet demeanor and penchant for punishing Hogwarts students with  “special” detention methods, the vicious Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher quickly became one of the most despised characters in the wizarding world.

Even Imelda Staunton — the actress behind the character who did absolutely amazing job on portraying the “monster in pink” admits that her portrayal of the ultimate villain traumatized many, with people still cowering when they see her in public.

What people say:  “When you find yourself disliking an actress because she played a villain, you know she played her character well.”  –Beef Supreme

Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton in ‘Game of Thrones’

Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton in 'Game of Thrones'

The Welsh actor, Iwan Rheon, expertly brought to life one of the most twisted and vile characters in television history. As Ramsey Bolton (née Snow) on “Game of Thrones,” Rheon portrayed a sadistic psychopath with devilish delight, inflicting acts of depravity that always managed to one-up his previous offenses.

Whether dismembering body parts, torturing Theon, abusing Sansa, or murdering Rickon, Bolton’s atrocities made him one of the most despised characters on television.

Rheon’s portrayal was so convincing that it blurred the line between actor and character, leading fans to dislike him in real life.

“I get called bastard a lot,” the actor revealed in an interview with IMDb back in 2018.

What people say: “I hate every scene he is in because he makes me so uncomfortable and I absolutley love it.” –Juz_4t

Donald Sutherland as President Snow in ‘The Hunger Games’

President snow

Donald Sutherland’s portrayal of the main antagonist in “The Hunger Games” series, President Snow, was so effective that it’s safe to say that the odds of not hating his character are not in his favor.

Sutherland brought the authoritarian ruler of the dystopian society of Panem to life with a calm and measured tone, conveying a sense of menace and power that made you just love to hate him.

“This is a tyrant,” Sutherland told USA Today of the character. “President Snow makes Dick Cheney look like a good guy. And that’s hard to do.”

What people say: “He really brought Snow alive and made him someone to root against.”  –u

Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa in ‘Inglourious Basterds’

Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa in 'Inglourious Basterds'

Christoph Waltz’s performance as Hans Landa in  Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” was downright unforgettable and one that earned him an Oscar. Waltz’ played a charming but ruthless Nazi officer as nobody else could —with a twinkle in his eye and an impeccable command of multiple languages.

What people say: “I know he’s going to be the bad guy before anything even happens. He’s evillll.” pencilmatemc

Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly Holbrook in ‘The Help’

Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly Holbrook in 'The Help'

Few can argue that Bryce Dallas Howard’s portrayal of Hilly Holbrook in “The Help” was a tour de force performance. As the primary antagonist of the story,  Dallas Howard’s breathed life into the manipulative and racist socialite  Hilly Holbrook who used her influence to maintain the oppressive racial hierarchy of 1960s Mississippi.

Howard’s ability to bring out the worst in Hilly made us all hate her character just a little bit more.

What people say: “I hated how much I enjoyed hating the character of Hilly.” –Nikole Horkin

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in ‘Game of Thrones’

Lena Headey
Helen Sloan/HBO

If you haven’t found yourself wishing for Cersei Lannister’s horrific downfall while watching “Game of Thrones,” have you even seen the show at all?

The cold, calculating, and power-hungry queen, Cersei was the ultimate villain of the hit HBO series, and Headey’s performance was nothing short of exceptional.

With her piercing gaze and razor-sharp wit, Headey brought Cersei to life in a way that made you both fear, loathe, and pity her, and sometimes it even made it hard for people to separate the actor from the character.

During an interview with Conan O’Brien in 2014, Headey revealed that some fans of the show would get angry with her in person, yelling profanities and accusing her of being evil.

What people say: ” I hate Cersei so much, she is a monster, but that must mean the actor playing her is really good. And she is, she plays her so well I love to hate her!” – reKSanity

Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

Javier Bardem is downright terrifying as cold-blooded psychopath Anton Chigurh in the 2007  “No Country for Old Men” Bardem’s ability to convey the character’s psychotic nature through subtle gestures and expressions earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but also made many scared of him for eternity.

Bardem’s performance caught the attention of a group of psychologists who hailed it as the “Most Realistic Depiction of a Psychopath” in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.  It’s no wonder that many viewers continue to be scared of him to this day.

What people say: “He’s genuinely terrifying” –RoyalRootersRallyCry

Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring in ‘Breaking Bad’

Gus Fring in Breaking Bad

Few TV villains have been as intimidating and downright chilling as the character of  Gus Fring in the AMC hit “Breaking Bad” and its prequel “Better Call Saul.”

Giancarlo Esposito, the actor behind the cold-blooded businessman/narco boss, was remarkable, as he brought a level of nuance and depth to the character that made him all the more terrifying. He portrayed Gus with a calm and collected demeanor, even in the most intense and violent situations.

In an interview with Conan O’Brien, Esposito revealed he was so convincing that on the set of “Better Call Saul,” the crew was intimidated by him even when the camera wasn’t rolling.

“Many of the crew members —even though they’ve known me for many years—are very afraid of me when I’m in that yellow shirt and those khaki pants,” Esposito said. “So I try to disarm them and tell them, hey just relax won’t do anything to you that you weren’t expecting.”

What people say:  “I can’t look at Giancarlo Esposito without thinking of all the horrible things Gus Fring did in Breaking Bad, no one else could’ve played this character like him.”


Game of Thrones

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey in ‘Game of Thrones’

King Joffrey in ‘Game of Thrones’ is one of the most hated characters in the history of television, and you have the Irish actor Jack Gleeson to thank for that.

Gleeson did such a superb job in portraying the vile, sadistic power-hungry boy-king that he had us all cheer, clap, and scream with glee when a teenage boy died a gruesome death in his mother’s arms. But Gleeson was maybe a little too good at portraying the villain, as it made fans bully the actor mercilessly, ultimately leading the actor to take a break from acting and reevaluate his career.

George R.R. Martin, the author of the G.O.T books, told Entertainment Weekly he thinks the role was the reason behind Gleeson quitting acting altogether in his early 20s. Martin

“He created someone that everyone hates, and everyone loves to hate, and that’s a considerable feat of acting. I feel a little guilty that he’s quitting acting now. I hope that playing Joffrey didn’t make him want to retire from the profession because he does have quite a gift for it.” Martin said.

What people say: “If you hate the character to death, you know the actor has done his job exceedingly well” – anonymous


Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’

Hannibal Lecter

When it comes to iconic villains in cinema history, few characters are as memorable as Hannibal Lecter from “The Silence of the Lambs.”  From his iconic mask to his signature greeting of “Hello, Clarice,” Lecter has become one of the most recognizable and terrifying characters in cinema history, thanks in no small part to Hopkins’ unforgettable performance. But did you know that Anthony Hopkins was only on screen for a total of 16 minutes?

In those 16 minutes, Hopkins delivered a performance that would earn him an Academy Award for Best Actor.

What people say:  “He will always be Hannibal Lecter in whatever I’m watching him in.”—pamalahj