Top 5 Tuesday: Perpetual TV Bad Guys

Fredric Lane on 'Supernatural,' Jack Coleman and his signature horn-rimmed glasses on 'Heroes,' & Arnold Vosloo on '24'

Welcome to another riveting edition of Pop Culture Nexus’ Top 5 Tuesday, where we celebrate the most excitingly random categories you can imagine. This week, we’re taking a moment to recognize the hard-working actors who are really good at being bad. Without further ado, here are the usual suspects… (WARNING: Some spoilers ahead!)

1.) Arnold Vosloo (24, Chuck, Psych, Bones) – Arnold Vosloo makes a great villain, and it’s not just because he looks like the twin brother of recurring super-douche Billy Zane (you remember Billy–he played Rose’s tool of a fiancé in Titanic, among other douchebags). Vosloo is great at playing the villain who always remains in control, which can be even more terrifying than the out-of-control-crazy kind of bad guys. He played a Turkish terrorist in season 4 of 24, a deadly Fulcrum agent on Chuck, and a mobster on Psych. Most recently he appeared on Bones as Jacob Broadsky, the rogue sniper set on killing anyone who got in his way. Oh, and he was also The Mummy. So yeah. He’s kind of a big deal.

2.) Fredric Lane (Firefly, Lost, Supernatural, Castle) – He donned yellow contacts and his signature menacing smile to play Azazel, the demon who killed Sam and Dean’s mother (and grandparents) on Supernatural, and on Firefly he played Rance Burgess, the bigoted landlord of a poor planet who stormed a brothel to claim his son from the companion he impregnated. What really astounds me about Frederic Lane is that his creepiest role (in my opinion) was the one that, on paper, sounds the least evil. He may have been a yellow-eyed demon on Supernatural, a corrupt cowboy on Firefly, and a killer on Castle, but the part where he gives me the most wiggins is the one in which he plays a U.S. Marshal obsessed with finding fugitive Kate Austen on Lost. He pursued her with such a predatory focus, it was easy to forget that she was the felon and he was the lawman.

3.) David Anders (Alias, Heroes, 24, The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time) – There are many different kinds of villains. Some are dark and twisted, others are refined and almost genteel in their wrongdoing. David Anders’ villains are always somewhere between charming and inscrutable (probably due to the appealing combination of his striking good looks and his deep, mesmerizing voice), and often they’re not 100% evil, but instead possess some kind of moral ambiguity. I first saw Anders as the slippery high-end criminal Sark on Alias, but more recently he played the deceitful Dr. Whale on Once Upon a Time, who seems to be in cahoots with the evil queen. He was also the son of a Russian crime boss on 24, and the (almost) immortal villain Adam Monroe on Heroes. Last year he played Uncle John (Elena’s adopted uncle/biological father) on The Vampire Diaries, a character who, while not technically a “villain,” was universally disliked, and ultimately redeemed. What I love most about David Anders (aside from his hair) is the way he brings a prickly likability to his anti-heroes, making it sometimes hard to root against them.

4.) Titus Welliver (Lost, Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, The Good Wife) – At first glance, Welliver may look the part of an everyman schlub, but look a little closer and you’ll see he’s a master of the bitter angst that motivates many TV bad guys. A good number of his roles are characters seeking revenge for some past slight against them. On Lost, he played the mysterious Man in Black, who’d tell you that his only crime was wanting to leave the Island. Okay, so maybe he had to kill a few people to do it, but it’s not his fault his “benevolent” brother turned him into a Smoke Monster. Welliver once again showed off his scowling skills as State’s Attorney Glenn Childs on The Good Wife. Childs released a sex tape of Peter with a prostitute so that he could usurp Peter’s position as State’s Attorney. It’s one thing to be mean to the married man who’s sleeping with a prostitute, but it’s another thing to be mean to his wife. (I blame his mother, for naming him Glenn.) Welliver also played volatile arms dealer Jimmy O’Phelan on Sons of Anarchy, and the rabble-rousing horseman War (as in, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) on Supernatural. But to me, he’ll always be the disgruntled black-clad brother who moonlit as a Smoke Monster.

5.) Jack Coleman (Heroes, Criminal Minds, The Vampire Diaries) – Jack Coleman is most famous for his role as “Horn-rimmed Glasses” on Heroes, since his character’s real name (Noah Bennet) wasn’t revealed until the end of the first season. The self-proclaimed “morally gray” character was a mysterious company man whose job was to protect his adopted daughter Claire, who had the power of regeneration. While he seemed like a decent father in the end, the lengths he went to in order to protect Claire were often rather shady, and with the help of his colleague The Haitian, he played willy-nilly with other people’s memories. He reprised his role as the morally gray father figure on The Vampire Diaries, in which he played Caroline’s gay dad who tried to torture her out of her vampire instincts. (Damon commented on the irony of Daddy Dearest thinking he could change Caroline’s basic nature by using negative reinforcement.) In what was possibly his most overtly evil role, Coleman recently played a sociopath on Criminal Minds who kidnapped and raped a girl, and then later tormented her mother. Coleman is great at being aloof and seemingly harmless, so it’s even more shocking when he turns out to have malevolent ulterior motives. Although at this point, anytime I see him on TV, I immediately shout “He did it!” no matter what show it is. (And I was totally right when I said that for Criminal Minds.)

Okay, now it’s your turn. Who are your favorite villainous actors? Leave a comment below, or tweet us @PopCultureNexus!

-Louise

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Posted on December 6, 2011, in Television, Top 5 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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