Home Films Here’s What Famous Movie Villains Actually Look Like In Real Life

Here’s What Famous Movie Villains Actually Look Like In Real Life

Darren September 25, 2023

We can’t deny that movie fans love a good hero. But deep down inside, we also know that many movie villains are much cooler than the heroes. They get the best costumes and the best lines but something bad happens to them in the end. Some of these villains become iconic like Darth Vader and the Joker. However, you may wonder what the actors who play them actually look like in real life.

We’ve got you covered if you do. Today we’ll look at the people behind the masks and under the costumes. Wardrobe, makeup, and VFX departments deserve immense credit for the work they do in bringing these characters to life. It’s amazing to imagine that some of these beautiful people play such evil beings on-screen, so let’s get started.



Thanos was the big bad of the Avengers movie series and one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe. It’s easy to recognize him as the gigantic purple humanoid with a penchant for finding the Infinity Stones. But this supervillain looks very different in real life as we can see below.


Josh Brolin starred as the evil villain in the Marvel films that broke box office records. It’s safe to say that Brolin is more handsome than his character. Brolin wore facial and body capture systems in his performance. Then VFX artists used CGI to create this massive monster (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Radio Times

Lord Voldemort

‘You Know Who’ was Harry Potter’s chief nemesis throughout the franchise. Fans don’t see him in the flesh until the fourth movie; Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire. The snake-nosed Voldemort has a murderous vendetta against non-magical humans and wants to dominate the world.

New York Times

Legendary English thespian Ralph Fiennes brought Voldemort to life. He’s one of the greatest British actors of his era with an incredible background in film and theatre. It took two hours in the makeup chair to transform the refined actor into the evil Dark Lord (via Looper).



Weta Workshops brought Gollum to life using revolutionary technology. They transformed versatile actor Andy Serkis into the sneaking creature by using a motion capture suit. Later, Serkis starred as Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes trilogy as they used similar systems.


Serkis earned credit for his mannerisms and his voice. However, these days we’re more likely to see Serkis in the flesh. He’s a handsome man in real life and appears in many franchises. Furthermore, his recent performance in Star Wars won him even more plaudits for his brand of character acting (via The One Ring).



Yes – spoiler alert – we know that Nebula becomes a hero in the Marvel universe. But she began life as a murderous assassin before she achieves redemption. That’s why she merits a place on this list. Nebula cuts a distinctive blue figure with her cybernetic body parts.

Women’s Health

Unsurprisingly, things are very different in real life. Karen Gillan made multiple appearances in the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy movies as the anti-hero. Gillan was also the face of the Netflix action film Gunpowder Milkshake and is a major upcoming star (via Nerdist).


Red Skull

Captain America’s nemesis hit the big screens in 2011. Hugo Weaving lent his formidable acting chops to the role and had a lot of fun in the role. Red Skull’s name says it all because it perfectly describes his appearance. The HYDRA leader threatened to wreak destruction across the world.

If Magazine

We can see that Weaving has a standard head in real life. The English star moved Down Under at a young age and now counts himself as an Australian. He has many famous roles including Elrond in The Lord of the Rings and Agent Smith in The Matrix (via Entertainment).

Den of Geek

The Joker

Joaquin Phoenix is an amazing actor, but with all due respect, Heath Ledger’s shadow continues to hang over this role. The Joker is one of the most iconic fictional villains ever and so many people have played him. But Hedger’s version in The Dark Knight won him a posthumous Oscar.


We also never see his Joker without makeup. Meanwhile, Ledger’s tragic death means that many younger viewers forget him. That’s why it’s even more interesting to see him in real life. Ledger was a handsome, charismatic man and the world misses him dearly (via Den of Geek).

Star Wars

Captain Phasma

Cool armor is an exciting trademark of the Star Wars franchise. From Darth Vader to the Mandalorian, there are many iconic helmets. Captain Phasma was another addition to the canon with her shiny chrome stormtrooper armor and cloak. Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie played this role.


In the end, the trilogy criminally underused Phasma’s character and Christie’s talents. But there’s no denying that she’s very impressive in real life. The English actress is changing the parameters of gender expectations in Hollywood and there’s a reason why she’s achieved a massive following (via Grunge).



We’ve already looked at one notorious clown in real life but how about another? Pennywise is the main villain in Stephen King’s IT. This terrifying entity spends its days tormenting children and is the reason why many people hate clowns. But the movie’s makeup department still deserves plenty of credit.

Digital Spy

That’s because actor Bill Skarsgaard is very handsome in reality. The Swedish star possesses dark, brooding looks and doesn’t resemble an evil, tormented spirit. Skarsgaard said that the wardrobe department spent two and a half hours each day applying his distinctive makeup (via GQ).

Slash Film


It was always going to be tough for Tom Hardy to live up to Heath Ledger’s iconic performance in The Dark Knight. But Hardy delivered a magnificent, underrated display as Bane in the final movie of Christopher Nolan’s series. The role is an exercise in physicality as he cracked bones and spines.


Some viewers criticized the movie because they couldn’t understand Hardy properly through his mask. He is relatively softspoken in real life but he’s also one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs. There’s a grittiness to Hardy that makes him simultaneously dangerous but appealing (via Den of Geek).



Ben Mendelsohn plays Talos the Untamed, an evil Super Skrull in the Marvel Universe. The Australian star enjoyed the role but it’s almost impossible to recognise him in costume. Nonetheless, his distinctive voice gives viewers something to cling to. It took a couple of hours to apply his prosthetics before filming.


Mendelsohn has had some massive roles over the past few years. He played significant characters in Rogue One and Ready Player One amongst other movies. The charismatic Aussie always lifts the bar and it’s a good sign for quality when he agrees to be in a picture (via Collider).

Vanity Fair


Cate Blanchett is a two-time Oscar winner but that didn’t stop her from joining the Marvel universe. The legendary Australian actress joined the dark side when she starred as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. This was a massive leap into the unknown for Blanchett because she played an evil supervillain.


Hela’s dramatic costume raised any eyebrows but Blanchett pulls it off. She said she enjoyed the role because it allowed her to express herself in a very different way. Luckily, she’s a much nicer person than Hela in real life. Blanchett is even open to returning as Hela in a future installment (via EW).

Den of Geek


Nobody will pretend that Steppenwolf was the greatest comic book villain ever. Despite Ciaran Hinds’ best efforts, he remains another ugly bad guy in a dramatic costume. But the most interesting part of him is that Hinds was never on the main set. That’s right; Steppenwolf was a CGI creation in real life.


Motion capture studio Animatrix worked privately with Hinds to ensure the best possible rendition of Steppenwolf. There’s no denying that he has a fantastic appearance but the movie wasn’t memorable. The Justice League pales in comparison to the Marvel franchise despite the talent working on it (via Creative Bloq).



Eric Bana starred as Nero in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek remake in 2009. This movie won plenty of acclaim and reignited the franchise. It was difficult to recognize Bana behind his Romulan make-up as he played the psychopathic leader. However, Bana admitted that it was a grueling experience.

The New Daily

He spent three hours in the makeup chair each day as they applied and removed his costume. It was a major challenge for the actor and he said that he had gaps in his memory because he zoned out. People think that acting is glamorous but in real life it can be extremely boring (via Star Trek).


Harley Quinn

These days, Quinn threads the fine line between anti-hero and villain. Nonetheless, she’s one of DC’s most iconic creations. Margot Robbie brilliantly gave her more depth than being merely the Joker’s girlfriend. However, Robbie doesn’t wear Quinn’s wardrobe in real life.


Everybody recognizes Quinn’s trashy, emo aesthetic. But Robbie is a blonde bombshell. She’s one of the most stunning women in Hollywood today and that’s why she won the role of Barbie. But she has charisma and intelligence to go with her looks and this is a winning combination (via Grazia Magazine).

The Irish Sun

Darth Maul

There are several Star Wars villains on this list but Maul is one of the most dramatic. His character design is one of the greatest in the franchise and he instantly became cool because of his double-bladed lightsaber. The Sith Lord was a big part of arguably the series’ best fight sequence (via The AV Club).

Outer Rim News

Most people wouldn’t know Ray Park if they walked past him on the street. But the Scottish actor is a respected stuntman and martial artist in real life. He also appeared in the X-Men franchise and did an amazing job in bringing Darth Maul to life. We can see that he’s much more handsome than the dark lord too!


Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

Denis Villeneuve made the brave decision to readapt Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel series Dune. He created a visual feast that blew audiences away in theaters across the globe. Veteran Swedish star Stellan Skarsgard played the movie’s chief antagonist, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

Financial Times

According to Skarsgard, he spent four hours in the make-up chair each day. In the end, he clocked over 80 hours as the wardrobe team went to work. Most people agree that it was worth the effort because he’s a very disturbing villain. Skarsgard’s considerable acting chops elevated the role (via IndieWire).


The Grudge

In 2020, Hollywood released a remake of the Japanese horror classic The Grudge. Everybody agreed that the new movie wasn’t good but there was one saving grace. The costumes were excellent and it did have great aesthetics. This didn’t overcome the lackluster script but it’s something.


Junko Bailey played the movie’s notorious ghost and replaced the original actress, Aiko Horiuchi. Her white makeup is genuinely terrifying but it’s a far cry from her appearance in real life. Bailey is a wholesome person with a big smile and doesn’t want to haunt anybody’s house (via Salon).


Proxima Midnight

Carrie Coon joined the ranks of Marvel villains when she played Proxima Midnight in Infinity War. However, unlike other stars on this list, Coon didn’t spend hours sitting in a makeup chair. The studio opted to use CGI instead because they felt the differences would be barely noticeable (via Koimoi).

People Magazine

That’s debatable but Coon is very different from her character in real life. Most of her on-screen success is in TV and Coon admitted that this role took her out of her comfort zone. We imagine that the money that she made more than made up for it. Coon also appeared in the Ghostbusters: Afterlife as she continued her Hollywood journey.


Ronan The Accuser

One of the main criticisms of the Marvel cinematic universe is the lack of compelling villains. There are many forgettable baddies in crazy costumes but few of them resonate. Ronan the Accuser is a perfect example because Lee Pace gave everything in Guardians of the Galaxy.


This is a great movie but he’s not the best villain ever. Meanwhile, the man behind the cowl is very handsome compared to his character. He doesn’t walk around with disgusting black makeup around his eyes or chin like an evil panda. Pace cuts a dashing figure and is a brilliant actor (via Screen Rant).


Bellatrix Lestrange

Lestrange was the human face of Lord Voldemort’s evil dominance in the Harry Potter universe. Helena Bonham Carter was perfect as the wild-haired witch. This was brilliant casting because Carter favors a gothic vintage style in real life. Lestrange’s costume takes this to the extreme.


But the younger Carter dressed quite similarly in her more youthful days. She famously collaborated many times with her ex-husband Tim Burton because they shared a similar spooky aesthetic. But Carter isn’t a murderous, psychopathic witch like her character (via EW).


Davy Jones

Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean series saw some incredible villains. But the most aesthetically spectacular was the cursed pirate Davy Jones. Legendary British thespian Bill Nighy lent his voice and his eyes to the tentacled character. He remains one of the most impressive CGI creations ever.


Nighy was the man behind Davy Jones in real life. The studio made Jones more realistic by using Nighy’s real eyes in their creation. This gave Jones more depth, soul, and life than most CGI characters. It was a phenomenal decision that made him an unsettling villain (via Collider).

The Mary Sue

Ayesha (GG3)

We don’t see much of Ayesha in the Guardians of the Galaxy series but she’s a key antagonist in the background. Elizabeth Debicki played the golden goddess and gave life to her evil plans. James Gunn wanted Debicki because of her tall stature in real life as well as her elegant beauty (via The Mary Sue).

Vanity Fair

Debicki stands at six feet three inches and is one of the tallest actresses in Hollywood today. The wardrobe department put her in platforms so she towered over everybody at almost seven feet. Meanwhile, Debicki played Princess Diana in The Crown series and worked with Christopher Nolan in Tenet.

Screen Rant

Princess Ahmanet

There wasn’t much to remember about Alex Kurtzman’s recent adaption of The Mummy (2017). Tom Cruise starred in this average blockbuster that failed to live up to the magic of the original movie. But we should give credit to the makeup and wardrobe departments for their work on Sofia Boutella’s costume.

GQ India

The Algerian actress played the movie’s chief antagonist, Princess Ahmanet. We can see her dramatic appearance above and how Boutella looks in real life. The actress called her character ‘the ultimate feminist.’ Boutella has an exciting time ahead of her as the lead in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon franchise (via Arab News).


The Predator

This monstrous character has been marauding across the big screen since 1987. The Predator spawned its franchise and even crossed over to the Alien series. Yes, it’s true, the less said about the latter the better. But the Predator remains an iconic movie villain (via Empire).

L.A. Times

Dane DiLiegro is the latest man to step into the creature’s shoes in Prey (2022). This movie didn’t achieve box office success but critics regarded it as an exciting action flick. Meanwhile, DiLiegro has plenty of experience working in the action movie industry and playing different monsters


Freddie Krueger

Krueger has enjoyed ripping teenagers apart for a few decades now and is one of the best on-screen villains ever. This terrifying spirit made his movie debut in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare On Elm Street in 1984. He has one of the most iconic costumes in movie history.

Hollywood Reporter

Meanwhile, Robert Englund is the man behind the prosthetics. The American actor is a lovely man in real life despite spending years working on the franchise. His film credits show his long association with the horror movie industry and that’s why he’s a cult icon today (via Hollywood Reporter).

Footwear News

Rita Repulsa

The 2017 Power Rangers movie didn’t win many new fans but Elizabeth Banks enjoyed herself. It was a rare opportunity for the actress to don an outrageous costume and play a supervillain. She starred as the Rangers’ nemesis, Repulsa, and had a great time in the role (via Footwear News).

New York Times

Some franchise fans complained that they made her character too sexy. For over 24 years, Repulsa wore period dresses not this dramatic alien costume. However, the studio wanted to appeal to a new audience but failed miserably. Banks is a beautiful woman in real life.

Star Wars

Darth Vader

Hayden Christiansen played Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise. But who was the original man behind Darth Vader’s iconic black helmet? The Sith Lord is one of the most famous villains in pop culture history. However, few people recognize the character’s original actor.


That’s because there were technically two actors in real life. Bodybuilder David Prowse wore the part-cyborg’s suit while James Earl Jones lent his voice to the dark lord. Various other people played Vader in subsequent installments but these two men will always be the first (via Movie Web).

USA Today


Most Tolkien fans agree that the trilogy of Hobbit films was a major disappointment. However, they did enjoy seeing one of the most menacing villains in recent movie history. Smaug the dragon unleashed carnage and jealously hoarded gold. In the end, Bilbo Baggins outwitted the monstrous creature.


Benedict Cumberbatch lent his distinctive voice to the role but he also acted as the fantastical beats. Special effects experts used motion capture technology to make the dragon’s movements realistic. Cumberbatch appreciated how they captured his eyebrows’ motions and other minute details (via Insider).


Emperor Palpatine

One of the most amazing aspects of Star Wars is that the franchise’s most evil villain doesn’t appear in the first movie. Ian McDiarmid played the notorious Sith Lord who ruled the universe but we barely see his face throughout the original series. That’s because he hides behind a cowl.

Yorkshire Post

Yes, the prequel series takes away the magic by showing Palpatine in his pre-Emperor days. Nonetheless, McDiarmid cuts a refined figure and prefers theatre work to movies. Star Wars was his chief flirtation with Hollywood. He’s a brilliant thespian but will always be a Star Wars icon (via Yorkshire Post).

Games Radar


Middle-Earth’s evil dark lord mostly appears on big screens as a gigantic, firey eye. But he does appear in human form in the opening scenes of The Fellowship of the Ring. We see an enormous, terrifying figure in black armor with a massive mace. But who was the man behind the metal?

Sala Baker

Sala Baker is one of Hollywood’s most experienced stunt performers and wore this imposing suit. He also played multiple orcs in the franchise. Baker also appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean series and The Mandalorian. But Sauron remains his most distinctive role today (via Games Radar).