Perth Film School

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A Blog Post


Villains. There is one in almost every story and the actors who play villains best make the camera and the audience root for them. If you were wondering, that is how villains get to be the leading characters in stories- they make the camera and audience root for them. Strangely, some actors choose not to play villains because they only want to act the kind of roles which would entail deep and emotional conflict. Smart actors understand that this is what earns the actor who is playing a villain an Academy Award.

The following is a few tips that other clever actors understand about how to create perfect cinematic villains.

Villains love the sound of their own voices

What actors (who are playing as villains) can do with their voices is usually more unsettling than what they say with their words. They prefer controlled voices. They choose a more textured voice. They like voices that can be soft and innocent one second and then pure hate the next. They want voices that can seduce or terrify you. They want their voices to be the kind of voices that you can’t get out of your head and they’re not afraid to speak so quietly it feels like they are crawling into your head. They want a voice that will frighten and chill the audience long after the audience has left the movie theatre. To the villain, his or her voice is the ultimate musical weapon.

Villains are always smiling on the inside even if they’re not smiling on the outside

Partly, this is because the villain sees everything as a game, and partly, it’s because the villain enjoys being villainous. Clever actors might choose to create a more interesting reason for why their villain is smiling on the inside- maybe a twisted sense of love or even a darker sense of hope. This is actually why the camera becomes infatuated with a villain. The camera becomes obsessed because it can sense that the villain isn’t cut from the same emotional cloth as the rest of the cast.

Villains are three steps ahead of everyone else in the room

In life, most of us are usually responding to the moment at hand. We probably have a lot of things on our minds but we will only tackle a problem or acknowledge what is going on, if the moment is currently happening. However, the villain is responding to moments that, for the rest of us, haven’t even happened yet. Being three steps ahead will mean that the villain can easily and effortlessly outmanoeuvre everyone else in the room. This is the source of the villain’s greatest power, and it is also their most dangerous weapon.

Another thing about villains is that they should feel effortless. If they don’t, they’ll never possess any real cinematic power.