Think your favorite actor — maybe best known for rom coms or being the goofy sidekick — could never play a villain? Think again. Lots of actors have successfully played awful villains precisely because they were the least expected casting option. Here are five of our favorites.
Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen
Known for her mile-wide smile and infectious laugh, Julia Roberts has never before played evil — she is America’s Sweetheart, after all. So how is she going to pull of playing one of the most evil women in fairy tale history, the Evil Queen of Snow White? Easy: She uses that rep to totally disarm the audience, then whammo!
“She gave me goosebumps,” Robert’s costar Lily Collins told People. “She played the Evil Queen brilliantly. You forget that’s really Julia because she’s so good. Off camera, she’s so down to earth and so sweet. We’d be shooting and she’s being extremely horrible to me [in character] and once they yell cut, the first thing she says to me, ‘Are you okay? I’m sorry, I hate being mean to you.'”
Image courtesy Entertainment Weekly
Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy
Rubber-faced Jim Carrey was known purely for his wacky humor and total goofiness until The Cable Guy revealed his dark side. The character started out as a seemingly harmless lonely guy looking for a friend — until it became obvious he was actually an obsessed stalker. The film was still a comedy — albeit a dark one — but it showed Carrey had a whole range as an actor no one was aware of before.
Why was he so good at playing bad? Carrey revealed that he struggles with depression, and that depth of emotion allowed him to reach down into dark places when needed.
Image courtesy Columbia Pictures
Nicole Kidman in To Die For
While she had played a bad guy before as the scheming wife in 1993’s Malice, for the most part the public viewed Nicole Kidman as the loving and doting wife of then-husband Tom Cruise. All that changed with her role as the murderous cheating wife in To Die For, a character based on real-life murder conspirator Pamela Smart.
Kidman played the perfectly perky career woman in such a way that if you didn’t know the back story you would never suspect what she was up to — until she seduces a teen and strong arms him into killing her husband. The film was critically acclaimed, won Kidman several awards and opened up a whole new world of meatier roles for the actress.
Image courtesy Columbia Pictures
Jennifer Aniston in Horrible Bosses
Rachel Green, sexual predator? Shocking! After spending her entire career playing good girls, even when conflicted like in the aptly-named The Good Girl, Jennifer Aniston has made millions off her sweet on-screen persona. To fully allow for the ever-important suspension of disbelief, Aniston donned a brunette wig complete with bangs, went topless and even dropped a gay slur in Horrible Bosses.
Aniston herself knew she had to snap up this role to stretch her wings. “I’d never seen anything like this woman, and I couldn’t imagine not doing it,” she told MTV News. “This stuff never comes my way.”
Image courtesy New Line Cinema
Tim Curry as Pennywise
Classically trained actor Tim Curry had played lots of villains before, but those roles all had a decided element of camp to them — e.g. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. When Curry hit the screen in Stephen King’s It as the scariest freaking clown you have ever seen in your worst nightmares, he gave a whole new generation a paralyzing fear of the circus.
Playing a predatory monster that could shape-shift into anything that best exploited the darkest fears of his victims, Curry’s character most often took form as child-murdering Pennywise the Clown. Just thinking about it still scares the crap out of us.
Image courtesy Lorimar Television