David Tennant will always be the Ninth Doctor to us, but after ending his reign as Doctor Who in 2013, he branched out a bit. We’ve seen him as DI Alec Hardy in the breakout crime drama Broadchurch (2013-2017) and most recently he lent his naturally Scottish vocals to DuckTales as Scrooge McDuck.
But one of his most compelling performances was as the supernatural mind controller Purple Man in Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Honestly, until that point we didn’t know how we’d feel about Tennant as a super villain. But, we needn’t have worried because he was utterly, terrifyingly believable. Now, we can watch him in another evildoer role and we’re super excited. He plays Cale Ehrenreich, a well-to-do restaurant-goer in the psychological thriller Bad Samaritan, which opens in theaters today (May 4). The restaurant’s valet, Sean, played by Misfits star Robert Sheehan, takes advantage of knowing patrons’ whereabouts for the evening and robs their homes. But when Sean breaks into Ehrenreich’s house, he comes across something very unexpected… actually, scratch that, someone very unexpected:
Tennant is such a dynamic actor, and here he shows, once again, that he can play bad as well as he can play good.
Here are 10 other actors owning their onscreen badness:
1. Sir Ben Kingsley
Ben Kingsley has a long roster of roles, but him playing the leader of India’s independence struggle and pacifist icon Mahatma Gandhi in 1982’s biopic Ghandi is one of his most memorable to date. It might be difficult to knock that image out of viewers’ minds, but Kingsley was clearly determined to do just that and proceeded to book a bunch of bad guy roles. Most memorably he played a mob boss in 1991’s Bugsy and a violent gangster in 2000’s Sexy Beast. And just last year he took on the role of a war criminal in An Ordinary Man.
He makes some bold statements as The General, saying in the trailer, “Everyone needs a villain. War criminal. Fugitive. Please, I am all labels.”
2. Dame Helen Mirren
Like Kingsley, Helen Mirren has a long CV, but her role as Queen Elizabeth II in 2006’s The Queen is the one that leaps to mind. She’s played a lot of “good” characters, but through it all, she harbored a desire to shake things up a little and star in the Fast and Furious series. She mentioned her action thriller aspirations in passing to FF star Vin Diesel, and… bam, she made it happen.
In the trailer for 2017’s The Fate of the Furious we get to see what all the fuss is about. She plays the mother to dastardly brothers Deckard and Owen Shaw, portrayed by Jason Statham and Luke Evans respectively. The clip is brief, but she sneaks in a slap.
3. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie is a human rights activist in her actual life, and her beliefs manifest in her choice of acting projects. In 2007 she portrayed Mariane Pearl, a real-life journalist searching for her husband who went missing in Pakistan, in the biopic A Mighty Heart. And we’re used to seeing Jolie take on the role of the heroine in films like the Lara Croft Tomb Raider series (2001/2003) and 2010’s The Tourist. She also wrote and directed the true wartime story First They Killed My Father (2017). But, we simply cannot forget her as a wicked fairy in 2014’s Maleficent. Sleeping Beauty, who goes by Aurora in the film, grows up to believe Maleficent is her fairy godmother. Only, that’s not quite the case.
4. Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman got her start on the teen show Five Mile Creek in her native Australia during the 1980s. She made her breakthrough to the U.S. with Days of Thunder in 1990, starring opposite Tom Cruise. In DoT she played a neurosurgeon and supportive love interest to Cruise’s Cole Trickle. The fresh-faced Hollywood starlet surprised us when she took on a darker role in 1995’s To Die For. Here she plays teacher Suzanne Stone who wants to make it as TV personality. On her path to fame, she seduces her student (Joaquin Phoenix) and talks him into killing her husband. We should mention, it’s based on a true story.
5. James McAvoy
James McAvoy has the kind of face that makes you think only good thoughts, and this is reflected in the roles he chooses. Most memorably, he portrays the younger version of Professor X in the X-Men series (Patrick Stewart plays the character in his later years). The professor is caretaker to the young mutants and helps them find their way. Then in 2016, we saw McAvoy take on 23 different personalities in M. Night Shyamalan‘s Split. They aren’t all baddies… but as a whole, yeah, he is not a good guy.
6. Charlize Theron
One of Charlize Theron‘s earliest roles was in 1997’s The Devil’s Advocate, opposite Keanu Reeves. She played a doting wife to her lawyer husband, dropping everything and moving to NYC for his career. Again, in 1999 she took on the supportive spouse role in The Astronaut’s Wife, opposite Johnny Depp. It was in 2003 that she took on the transformative role of real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Wournos had a tough life growing up and even lived on the streets as a young adult, all of which added to her intensely violent streak. Most recently, Theron stars in the new film Tully, as a mother of three struggling to keep up with all of life’s pressures.
7. Tom Hiddleston
Here’s an actor who made the reverse move, switching from an iconic bad guy role to a full-on hero. Tom Hiddleston killed it as former British soldier Jonathan Pine in AMC’s original series The Night Manager (2016). But before joining the spy game, we knew him as the playful, yet deadly, Loki in the Thor series. Loki leans to the dark side, but we still find ourselves cheering for him. Maybe it’s because all Loki actually needs is a hug from his father, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Like, he doesn’t really want to destroy the world; it’s an elaborate ploy to get daddy’s attention.
8. Cate Blanchett
Speaking of Thor, Cate Blanchett joined the Marvel franchise last year as the villainess Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. And, she wowed everyone as the horned goddess of death. Blanchett talked about her character’s hunger for badness, saying, “The more havoc she wreaks, the stronger she becomes.” Before that, Blanchett was best-known for highly-visible roles like Queen Elizabeth I in 1998’s Elizabeth which she returned to reprise in 2007’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age. And of course, we can’t forget her as the royal elf Galadriel in the The Hobbit series (2012-2014).
9. Benedict Cumberbatch
There have been a number of film and TV incarnations of Sherlock Holmes, but Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Sherlock steals the show. So when he turned up in the Stark Trek franchise in 2013 as Khan, we were all a bit surprised. But, in a good way. Like, “our” lovely Benedict is now bad?? Well, just on screen. It’s fun to change things up a bit.
10. Hugh Grant
We wouldn’t call professional romantic hero Hugh Grant a total goodie two shoes — err, Daniel Cleaver — but in last year’s Paddington 2 he goes full bad. And, it feels right. It’s almost as if we’ve been waiting for him to step into that unashamed baddie role, having built up to it with all that cringe-worthy smirking in the Bridget Jones’s Diary series.
Which of these actors do you think got mean the most convincingly?