6 Upsetting Instances Of Beloved, Affable Actors Playing Dirtbags And Villains
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6 Upsetting Instances Of Beloved, Affable Actors Playing Dirtbags And Villains

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | July 31, 2013 | Comments ()


Steve Carrell — The Way Way Back: Moderate, inconsequential spoilers for The Way Way Back, I suppose. I find Carrell to be such an adorable endearing fellow both on-screen and off that I tried to bend the plot of this endearing summer indie until it snapped to make him not the villain of the piece. But villain he is and his smarmy, disingenuous take on his usual goofy “good guy” schtick lends an extra layer of danger and repulsion to the stock Bad Father Figure character.

Cary Grant — Suspicion: Cary Grant built such an impressive career on being a debonair smoothie (or, in the case of Bringing Up Baby, a slightly less debonair bumbler). But the reason Hitchcock’s story of a woman who suspects her too-good-to-be-true husband is out to murder her works so well is because it subverts that Grantian expectation. It’s certainly not Joan Fontaine’s melodramatic performance that sells it. It’s that we, the audience, are right there with her. Seduced and duped and doubting. Grant sells the danger so well and will keep you guessing right up and through the ambiguous ending.

Nathan Fillion —“Buffy The Vampire Slayer”: Of course the more famous instance of Fillion subverting his typical Man Of Steel persona is as the grinning and terrible bad guy in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” But the most upsetting, for we Captain Mal fans, was what Whedon had him do right here in Season 7 of “Buffy.” Gut churning.

Christopher Lloyd — Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: Lloyd was so identifiably and endearingly addled both on “Taxi” and in Back To The Future that casting him as the horrific Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was a stroke of genius. That movie has a lot of issues in tone, sure, but there are few death scenes more horrific for young viewers than when Judge Doom DIPS THAT SHOE. ACK.

Wilfred Brimley — The Thing: Sure Brimley wasn’t always a beloved Diabetes and oatmeal spokesman, but it is completely impossible for viewers of a certain age to disassociate him from that Aw Shucks, Push Broom Mustache persona. So (ancient spoiler) possessed by the Thing, it’s extra uncomfortable. That’s why Body Snatcher horror is, for me, the most petrifying.

Kyle Chandler — The Spectacular Now: It’s a crappy father figure bookend! This other coming of age indie is out in theaters this weekend and we’ll have a full review for you later in the week but suffice it to say that of all the bad guys we’ve seen Kyle Chandler play (and he’s played a few), this performance as a deadbeat dad is the most heartbreaking. THIS IS COACH TAYLOR. He is everyone’s dad. His complete inability to give a sh*t about anyone other than himself will wither your soul.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Ator

    Kurt Russel in "Deadly Tower".

  • Anon

    In relation to Carrell, he'll be playing ANOTHER despicable character this year (or maybe next year) in Bennett Miller's 'Foxcatcher'. And here's that person he'll be playing:


  • Iam_Spartacus

    Uhhh, Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West? Or Robin Williams in Insomnia and One Hour Photo.

  • marvinmarl

    Benedict Cumberbatch in Atonement. Really? You missed that one?!

  • Viking

    I have not seen it myself but Terry O'Quinn plays an evil guy in Stepfather. I was told by a friend that she hated Wilfred Brimley because he played a child molester at some point in his career. It would have been before the late 1980's which is when she told me. I haven't seen that one either.

  • stella

    What about Alan Tudyk on Dollhouse?

  • ,

    Cruise played a hitman.

  • babykangarootribbiani

    i may be in my twenties, but every time i watch roger rabbit to this day i still watch the scene where doom reveals himself to be a toon through my hands until he has been fully dipped. and yes, i covered the picture on here with my hand

  • Salieri2

    It's the tone shift to angry high squeal + mad eyeballs that does it. Horrific.

  • Ginger

    Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Atonement.' So disturbingly creepy.

  • MisterMJ

    Brimley also played a bad guy on "The Firm" with a memorable line:

    "Not just screwing, Mitch. All sorts of intimate acts, oral and whatnot ..."

  • googergieger

    Us Xander haters, kind of liked it.

  • JoannaRobinson

    I'm a Xander hater too. But still.

  • Uriah_Creep


  • Fabius_Maximus

    Christopher Lloyd had already evilly chewed scenery as Commander Kruge in Star Trek III before doing Back to the Future.

  • kirbyjay

    I love Steve Carrell so much in Dan in Real Life it hurts. The dancing......the dancing....

  • llp

    I would suggest maybe Jason Bateman in Juno. He was just so soft spoken, and his character in that movie became surprisingly different than the perennial straight man that Bateman exists as in my head.

  • Megan

    True. He was also kind of a pedophile.

  • llp

    There did seem to be a shade of that.

    Your comment just reminded me of him singing "Afternoon Delight" with Maeby on Arrested Development, though. Is that wrong?

  • PDamian

    It's a TV role, and a guest spot rather than a regular cast role. But Martin Short did a turn on Law and Order: SVU as a psychic who isn't the innocent bystander he seems to be. That performance kept me up nights -- and I'm a dedicated fan of Short (Ed Grimley is the man!).

  • I think he may have reprised that performance a season or so later and it was just as good the second time.

  • I grew up in a world where Ian McShane was an amiable antiques dealer, who solved crime. Then I saw him on Deadwood...

  • Uriah_Creep

    And then in American Horror Story, Season 2!

  • Viking

    I recently saw that episode, he was obviously delighted by the role. I could not help but enjoy him in that. It took away from my disgust at the horrid things he did, which I'm OK with. That show gets really, really dark.

  • csb

    For me, Fillion's Caleb was hands-down the best thing to come out of the later years of Buffy.

  • Michelle

    My only takeaway from this is how handsome Kyle Chandler is. And I miss FNL, obv.

  • stella

    Honestly...who doesn't?

  • damnitjanet

    My family was watching Roger Rabbit the other day, and I LEFT THE ROOM DURING THE SHOE DIP. I can't even...

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Captain Hammer is arguably a hero, he's just also a douchebag. He's a creepier Tony Stark, is all. Just like Dr. Horrible is totally a villain, no matter how much we may sympathize.

  • Calla Dain

    Colin Firth in Shakespeare In Love. The Mustache. That Earring. The Forced Marriage. Yuck.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Also Gina Torres as Jasmine in Angel.

    Not a movie, but still.

  • Maguita NYC

    Oh the kind savior! Her calm demeanor, her kindness, her softness, her love towards all, and the way she daintily devoured her followers.
    Not as freaky as Caleb though.

  • lowercase_ryan

    no, the role and the performance can't hold a candle to Caleb.

  • Maguita NYC

    Who was that girl again on Angel who was full of electricity and could make his heart beat?

    That was my favorite sexy good-bad-girl on the show!

  • lowercase_ryan



    Great call!

  • Maguita NYC

    Yes! Now she, I consider hot... Not that meh god looking for the key. Meh-meh.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I concur, she was really hot.

  • Maguita NYC

    Alexa Davalos is her name. And she was in Defiance and Clash of the Titans (don't judge, I was under the obligation to watch it with my friend).

    And she was the one (IMO) that had the most chemistry with Angel.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Watching Cordy and Angel was like watching two lifelong friends before forced to kiss. It was awkward.

  • The awkwardness of Cordy and Angel hooking up was only surpassed by that of Cordy and Connor hooking up. Eeewww....now I'm thinking about it. Bummer.

  • Viking

    She and Wesley had the most hilariously awkward kiss sometime around Prom when they were both still on Buffy. I have forgotten a lot about Angel. I enjoyed it when it was on the air, but have rewatched Buffy on Netflix, but not Angel.

  • Maguita NYC

    But they had chemistry in the beginning... As long she played the spoiled destitute princess, but then, she had to became a "higher being". Blergh.

  • lowercase_ryan

    yeah, then it was...meh. Uninteresting.

  • L.O.V.E.

    timothy olyphant is actually delightful but plays a great bastard. (See ... just about everything he has been in)

  • there are few death scenes more horrific for young viewers than when Judge Doom DIPS THAT SHOE.

    I'm an adult, and even THINKING about that scene makes me want to cry into my own vomit. It is so immeasurably disturbing. #emotionalscars

  • DominaNefret

    And, you know what, I'm going to go ahead and say it.
    Lee Pace in The Fall.
    I know he ends up redeeming himself in the end, but I don't know if I have ever been so angry at a character; it was so difficult for me to separate him from the Pie Maker at the time, so I ended up angry at Ned too. And I didn't want to be angry at Ned.
    That is my all time favorite movie, and it took me a few watches to stop getting angry at Ned. Who is probably my favorite television character, which probably explains the difficulty I was having.

  • Less Lee Moore

    Oh shit, I am now realizing why he looks so familiar in all these photos of him from Bryan Fuller shows. Yes, he was definitely a jerk in that movie. And what a great movie.

  • Wigamer

    Know who's not part of this list? TOM HANKS. Because he can't be. And no, Bonfire of the Vanities doesn't count, because he was kind of a bad guy, therefore no one believed that bullshit.

  • Three_nineteen

    I think he was pretty convincing in Road to Perdition. It was more matter-of-fact businesslike evil than over-the-top scenery-chewing evil, though.

  • Wigamer

    And there was a core of goodness there, I think, shown when he realized his shortcomings as a father and tried to remedy them. But I am unreasonable on the subject of Tom Hanks.

  • emmalita

    Tom Hanks would be the best most terrifying bad guy. He has so much good will built up it would traumatize generations of film-goers all at once.

  • Wigamer

    I'm sure he would be amazing, because there's a little edge to his humor that kind of belies something a wee bit dark there. That being said, NO.

  • Sherry

    Whoa. I read the header as "playing vampires" only (probably in part because of the header pic) and skimmed intro copy, so the first two really, really confused me until I scrolled back up and read what this really was. My exact thought on The Way Way Back (which I haven't seen): "Well, that would be a hell of a spoiler, alright. Carrell's character becomes a vampire?"

  • Judge Doom DIPS THAT SHOE.


  • linnyloo

    And it makes the sad muffled moaning sounds as its mouth gets submerged... gah.

  • And it kept twitching all the way into the dip.

    Poor little shoe.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Judge Doom gave me nightmares as a kid.

    Yes. Only as a kid.

  • Yeah, me too. Only as a kid.

    Maybe if we keep saying it, it will come true.

  • AvaLehra

    Oh, man! My David Tennant in Harry Potter.

  • NateMan

    He was so wasted, though! That portrayal demanded more screen time.

  • DominaNefret

    Benedict Cumberbatch - Atonement
    Damian Lewis - The Forsyte Saga
    David Tennant - Secret Smile

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Good call on Damian Lewis, it took me years before I could watch him in anything without loathing.

  • I think a huge part of the reason why I can't stand the sight (or can't get the attraction) of The Lizard King is because of that movie. I can't look at him and not see that pornstache.

  • Gretchen

    David Tennant being gross in Secret Smile, while the Doctor disapproves (NSFW): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • Salieri2

    a) That was horrid, and
    2) MAN does that thumbnail make David Tennant look like Nicolas Cage. Honestly, I clicked through just to check. And now I need a shower.

  • lonolove

    I absolutely loathed Benedict Cumberbatch for quite awhile, because my introduction to him was "Atonement" and he was such a smarmy, disgusting and repellent monster in that movie. I came around...eventually...but not before many an outraged night on the web (and on this site), absolutely failing to grasp the appeal.

  • jeannebean

    I absolutely agree. He was just vile in Atonement - manipulative, self-centered, violent, knowing/counting on Lola to be too ashamed to speak up - ugh! I avoided his films for years because Paul Marshall was so perfectly repellent. It wasn't until I saw Amazing Grace and Starter for 10 that the light bulb came on.

  • Secret Smile makes me need a shower... yech (so good though)

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn

    Not exactly recent, but Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West.
    Such a heartless bastard.

  • jfm

    Thanks! I was just perusing the comments to see if someone had already mentioned this. Best example I know of someone who was known for playing the good guy playing an absolutely evil son of a bitch.

    "I only told you to scare them!"
    "People scare better when they're dying."

  • Wigamer

    Based on this picture alone, I'm fairly sure I can't see this movie.

  • Less Lee Moore

    Oh my god, yes! What a great example. That movie gives me the chills. He's terrifying.

  • Bea Pants

    Minor quibble; I don't know that I'd call Wilford Brimley's character in The Thing a villain or dirtbag. Certainly he flips out and tries to kill everyone but that's essentially to save humanity. NOW, his character in The Firm is certainly a villain.

  • Archie Leach

    Hmmmm...... someone caught Archibald Alexander Leach, but missed the biggie of beloved goodie Young Abraham Lincoln and Tom Joad and Juror #8, Henry Jayne Fonda, turned child killer Frank..... oh and Archibald was hardly a bed of roses in "Notorious"......

  • Deidra

    Ronald Reagan as president?

  • If I had the power I'd nominate this for eloquent eloquence.

  • Mrs. Julien

    You have the power. Yours is the power and the glory. Nominations are welcome. Nominations are great. Nominated comments almost always make the list!

  • Samantha Klein

    NOO, NOT XANDER'S EYE. I have nightmares about that.

  • luthien26

    Oh Lord! True story: I was a latecomer to "Firefly" (I know, I know), and my first real exposure to Nathan Fillion was as Caleb on "Buffy." Took me a while not to see him in that light afterward, since he was so remarkably evil! I guess that's a testament to his ability to play against type, though. Now of course, having seen "Firefly" and everything else, I love the man to bits and think he's more adorable than a pack of Corgis pooping rainbows.

  • Uriah_Creep

    What's so adorable about having to pick up your Corgis' ass rainbows while you're walking them?

  • Joe Grunenwald


  • Maguita NYC

    That moment when Caleb forces his thumb into Xander's eye... Loved that son of a preacher man and despised him at the same time. He really was wonderful in his role.

    He made that Buffy season the best.

  • Michelle

    That season is the.. best? I am so confused.

  • BWeaves

    Since Caleb was my introduction to Fillion, I had a hard time buying him as a nice guy, until I was about halfway through Firefly.

  • Maguita NYC

    Same here. Which is why later on upon revisiting Buffy, I fell more for his twisted charms.

    I've been trying to find and post from YT that moment Buffy rode in his truck, and he talked about the whores of Babylon or something from the bible about temptresses and their deserved punishment, but I just can't find it!

    He was glorious in his evil.

  • NateMan

    I had to look away when I saw that for the first time. It was so breathtakingly evil... And eye damage has always been a phobia of mine, to the point I can't even do eye drops. I could never wear contacts, if my vision starts to fail. Yeesh. Makes my skin crawl just to think about this scene.

  • Helo

    Party in my eye socket and everyone's invited.

    someone had to say it.

  • alwaysanswerb

    My god, eye stuff is my worst squicky fear ever too. I had to turn Buffy off for several minutes when that happened

  • Maguita NYC

    Don't say that in front of me... Do you know how much I am resisting posting THE PERFECT FREAKY-EYED DOLL PICTURE???

  • lowercase_ryan


  • Maguita NYC

    Do you think I overdid it and ...

    Nateman fainted?

  • lowercase_ryan

    You overdid nothing, you're just being you. you know, cute and stuff.

  • Maguita NYC

    Cute dork .com :p

  • lowercase_ryan

    somebody say .COM?!?!

    I've decided that's my version of "pop pop". just dirtier.

  • Maguita NYC

    Well, you do push that button on your mobile often enough. Whether intentionally or not.

  • Maguita NYC

    Nooooooooooo, the temptation...
    I can't...
    I'm sorry.
    It is beyond my control.

  • NateMan

    You're a terrible woman!

  • Maguita NYC

    I never said I wasn't!

  • emmalita

    You are so mean. *snicker*

  • NateMan

    John Lithgow on Dexter. Goddamn disturbing genius casting.

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