Some individuals have a presence that oozes evil from the moment that you see them. There’s something about the look in their eyes, a slant to their smile, and slyness to their personalities that makes them someone to maintain your guard around. These people make for perfect horror villains because they can present a believable performance as a merciless bad guy without having to try. However, there are some people who fail to fit the bill at first glance, because they are unassuming and almost too innocent and harmless-looking to believe that they would commit evil acts.
When Elijah Wood was cast as Frank in the remake of Maniac, some people were probably left scratching their heads. Elijah Wood? The wide-eyed and soft-spoken guy from The Lord of the Rings is going to play a sadistic psychopath who takes pleasure in murdering women? He didn’t seem like the immediate person that people would picture for that type of role. In response to this somewhat unconventional casting, Shock Till You Drop takes a look at other inconspicuous people who have played evil characters.
John Ritter – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The late John Ritter isn’t exactly known for his evil side; he was beloved by audiences as the gullible and hapless sitcom star he portrayed for years on the small-screen. When the comedian appeared in season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the idea of “villain” did not immediately cross the audience’s radar. However, Ritter’s character Ted was far from the lovable bachelor that viewers were used to seeing. At first Ted appears like the perfect man; he’s nice, presentable, and he seems to get a long well with everyone – except for Buffy. Behind closed doors Ted ridicules, threatens, and hits her in an effort to make her succumb to his wishes. Eventually, Buffy discovers that Ted is a robot with a history of murdering women. Although Ritter didn’t play evil characters often, he conveyed an intimidating presence while on the screen, making his performance believable and enjoyable.
Austin Pendleton – The 4th Floor
Austin Pendleton has played a few evil characters throughout his career with roles in Oz and Wishcraft; however, his role as Mr. Collins in The 4th Floor was the perfect blend of egotism and psychopath. When Juliette Lewis’ character Jane moves into an apartment complex and begins being terrorized by her unseen neighbor, she finds solace in her new friend Mr. Collins, who also lives in the building. Collins welcomes her with open arms, offering advice and friendship; however, behind his smile, Collins is actually plotting the next way he can make Jane’s living arrangement unbearable. The old saying goes “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” and Collins is the prime example of that. Pendleton’s appearance as a small, quirky, and nice guy is perfectly suited for a role that requires him to be welcomed by the victim as a friend—not a foe.
Katie Holmes – Abandon
For years Katie Holmes played the shy tomboy Joey Potter on Dawson’s Creek, a character that was far from threatening. Her roles during and after her time on the teen drama were cutesy and reflective of her work with the WB, so her role in the thriller Abandon seemed strikingly similar to her past characters. Although her character Katie seemed like the good girl audiences were used to the actress playing, it is soon discovered that she is actually pretty psychotic and willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. The role didn’t allow the actress to display a lot of range because the audience doesn’t actually get to see her mentally freak out until the film’s final act; however, it was fun to see the girl-next-door play a ruthless bad girl.