People love heroes. Even before the meteoric rise of superhero movies, many movies set up its protagonist as heroes.
And when there’s a hero, there’s a villain. A great villain is just as compelling to watch as a hero. They can raise the stakes for the heroes’ quest, making their conquests and trials much more invested. Who wants to watch heroes win by having everything handed to them?
Some even have their own tragic backstory that justifies their motives. And some are just entertaining to watch. This means playing a convincing, entertaining, and charismatic villain is a Herculean task.
That’s why it's mind-blowing watching actresses succeed in playing a convincing villain. Especially when many of them are only known for playing “good girl” parts. Here are 19 actresses who are scarily good at playing villains.
#1 Blake Lively
Source: © The Age of Adaline / Lionsgate and co-producers, © A Simple Favor / BRON Studios and co-producers
It’s surprising how the ageless beauty in The Age of Adaline can play such a convincing murderous con artist in A Simple Favor.
#2 Rachel McAdams
Source: © The Notebook / New Line Cinema and co-producers, © Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows / Warner Bros. and co-producers
The Notebook’s sweetheart Allie can play Irene Adler - the only woman to outsmart Sherlock Holmes so convincingly.
#3 Scarlett Johansson
Source: © Jojo Rabbit / Piki Films and co-producers, © Under the Skin / British Film Institute (BFI) and co-producers
The determined single-mother in Jojo Rabbit and the literal alien maneater in Under the Skin have nothing in common. Which is scarier because the same person plays them.
#4 Emma Watson
Source: © My Week with Marilyn / BBC Films and co-producers, © Regression / Mod Producciones and co-producers
The shy aspiring designer in My Week with Marilyn is just one side of the 2-faced schemer in Regression, perhaps?
#5 Monica Bellucci
Source: © The Ages of Love / Filmauro and co-producers, © The Brothers Grimm / MGM and co-producers
In The Ages of Love, she played a romantic beauty, while in The Brothers Grimm, she played a murderous queen.
#6 Emma Stone
Source: © Aloha / Columbia Pictures and co-producers, © The Favourite / Searchlight Pictures and co-producers
Emma Stone beautifully portrayed a brave pilot Ng in Aloha and a shameless courtier Abigail in The Favourite.
#7 Charlize Theron
Source: © Long Shot / Summit Entertainment and co-producers, © The Fate of the Furious / Universal Pictures and co-producers
The charming state secretary/babysitter in Long Shot and ruthless mastermind in Fast and Furious are both played by Charlize Theron.
#8 Salma Hayek
Source: © Fools Rush In / Columbia Pictures, © From Dusk Till Dawn / Miramax and co-producers
Salma Hayek is both the naive sweetheart in Fools Rush In and the queen of the vampires in From Dusk Till Dawn.
#9 Anne Hathaway
Source: © The Princess Diaries / Walt Disney Pictures and co-producers, © The Dark Knight Rises / Warner Bros. Pictures and co-producers
Anne Hathaway stunned us by playing the diddy princess of Genovia Mia and Batman’s cat-burglar in The Dark Knight Rises
#10 Demi Moore
Source: © Blind / Michael Mailer Films and co-producers, © Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle / Columbia Pictures and co-producers
In Blind, she portrayed a lady in love with a blind guy, and in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, she played a former angel who turned bad.
#11 Alexandra Daddario
Source: © White Collar / Fox Television Studios and co-producers, © Why Women Kill / Imagine Entertainment and co-producers
Alexandra plays sweet Kate in White Collar and an obsessive murderer in Why Women Kill.
#12 Sophie Turner
Source: © Game of Thrones / HBO and co-producers, © Josie / Boo Pictures and co-producers
She portrayed both the youthful and gentle Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones and her polar opposite, Josie, a daring bounty hunter.
#13 Mila Kunis
Source: © The Angriest Man in Brooklyn / Vedette Finance and co-producers, © Oz the Great and Powerful / Walt Disney Pictures and co-producers
She portrayed a lovely doctor in The Angriest Man in Brooklyn and a furious witch in the fairytale Oz the Great and Powerful.
#14 Nicole Kidman
Source: © Australia / Twentieth Century Fox and co-producers, © The Beguiled / American Zoetrope and co-producers
She portrayed a valiant English woman in the military drama Australia and a vindictive hostess of a women's boarding house in the thriller The Beguiled.
#15 Penélope Cruz
Source: © Twice Born / Medusa Film and co-producers, © Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides / Walt Disney Pictures and co-producers
In Twice Born, she portrayed the lovely mother of an adolescent, and in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, she played a crafty robber.
#16 Emma Thompson
Source: © Sense and Sensibility / Columbia Pictures and co-producers, © Cruella / Walt Disney Pictures and co-producers
In Sense and Sensibility, she played the very intelligent and sensible Elinor, while in Cruella, she played a glamorous maniac who can harm anybody.
#17 Rebecca Ferguson
Source: © The Girl on the Train / Dreamworks Pictures and co-producers, © Doctor Sleep / Warner Bros. and co-producers
Ferguson plays both the young mother in The Girl on the Train and the charismatic cult leader Rose the Hat in Doctor Sleep to perfection.
#18 Carey Mulligan
Source: © An Education / BBC Films and co-producers, © Promising Young Woman / Focus Features and co-producers
Who would have thought the naive Jenny in An Education can be such a bloodthirsty avenger in Promising Young Woman.
#19 Elle Fanning
Source: © Twixt / American Zoetrope, © Maleficent / Walt Disney Pictures and co-producers
In Twixt, she played a character dubbed Vampira due to her unusual teeth. Three years later, she starred in Maleficent as Aurora, King Stephan's daughter.