Cult Actors 11 Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill is easily one of sci fi’s greatest leading men as well as one of its most versatile talents.

Whilst most famous for playing Luke Skywalker, the main hero from the original Star Wars trilogy. Hamill has brought a wide variety of colourful characters to life in his decades long career, from psychotic supervillains (such as most famously Batman’s nemesis, the Joker), to Hanukkah Zombies, to Paranormal detectives to ancient biblical figures. He has also enjoyed both a successful career in live action and become one of the most acclaimed and in demand voice actors of his generation. All of this of course makes him the perfect candidate for this weeks edition of Cult Actors.

We will examine Hamill’s most famous genre roles, as well as some of my own personal favourites, and see how he went from being the most noble of heroes for one generation, to the vilest of villains for another.

Early Career

Mark Hamill’s career began in the early 70’s with among his first prominent roles being recurring character Kent Murray on General Hospital and the leading role of Doobie in the short lived sitcom The Texas Wheelers. He also guest starred on television series such as The Partridge Family and One Day At A Time.

He also did some voice acting in the 70’s too including supplying the voice of Corey Anders in the animated series Jeannie. Corey was the love interest of the title character voiced by Julie McWhirter. He later voiced the same character in a special crossover episode of Scooby Doo, “The Mystery in Persia” in 1973.

Whilst Hamill enjoyed a consistent career on television throughout the 70’s, it would ultimately be his starring role in Star Wars as Luke Skywalker that would make him a household name.

Star Wars Film Series/ Luke Skywalker

The main hero of the original Star Wars trilogy, Hamill has to date played this character on and off for almost 40 years!

Hamill landed the role thanks in part to his friend Robert Englund (best known for playing the evil Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street film series.) Englund whilst auditioning for a role in Apocalypse Now, noticed that there were auditions going on down the hall for Star Wars and suggested to Hamill that he try out for the role of Luke.

Luke was something of a bland character on paper. A straight forward good guy with no real faults, but I think Mark brought a certain energetic quality to the character that made him more engaging to watch as well as a certain vulnerability in his relationship with Obi Wan that helped to make him seem more three dimensional. Though many fans and critics alike have accused Luke of being too whiny it has to be remembered that Luke at that start of the first film (since renamed An New Hope) is meant to be a whiny teenager who we see gradually grow over the course of the next 2 films into the hero of the galaxy.

Over the years Luke despite being the main protagonist of the original trilogy has been somewhat overshadowed by the roguish Han Solo in popular culture. It is to be expected as after all Luke is the goody two shoes, whilst Han Solo was the cool guy who got all the best lines.

Still I think its fair to say that many of the most iconic moments in the series still tend to be centered around Luke such as his final showdown with the Death Star and of course the famous revelation that Darth Vader is his father.

Personally I always preferred Luke anyway. I’m not saying I disliked Han Solo, but sometimes he could be a bit too smug for my liking. Luke I always found to be likable and his story I always found to be more interesting. When we first meet him we couldn’t imagine anyone less likely to bring down the fearsome Empire. A whiny brat who wants to shirk all responsibility to go hang out with his friends, but as time goes on we see him mature and slowly become a great and noble warrior capable of besting even Darth Vader.

Though Luke was perhaps a bit too idealistic at times, I don’t think this worked against the character as again he was much younger than Solo, and when you are young you do tend to see things in more simplistic ways.

Whilst the success of Star Wars made Hamill a star around the world, his career would somewhat suffer on both the big and the small screen throughout the 80’s.

He found himself typecast as the hero for many years and though he did get starring roles in other successful films such as the comedy Corvette Summer opposite Annie Potts (in her film debut), the epic war film The Big Red One opposite Lee Marvin and the Musical The Night the Lights Went Out opposite Dennis Quaid. Ultimately he found it hard to escape the young Jedi’s shadow.

Hamill poking fun at his typecasting problem in a later episode of The Simpsons, Mayored to the Mob.

Apparently he was turned down for the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the film adaptation of the famous play about his life ( a role that he had played to great acclaim on stage years earlier in 1983) because the studio executives did not want Luke Skywalker in the film.

It would not be until the 90’s through his roles as The Trickster and The Joker that his career would be revitalised.

Still despite this Hamill never shied away from talking about his star making role as Luke and regularly spoofed it on television in series such as Family Guy, The Simpsons and Third Rock From the Sun.

He most recently reprised the role in Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens, though his appearance in this film was a tiny cameo, it has been conformed that he will be be appearing in a larger role in Star Wars Episode 8 The Last Jedi.

With the character of Luke alone, Hamill secured himself a place as one of popular Sci Fi’s greatest icons.

Body Bags/ Brent Matthews

Hamill appeared in this classic anthology horror telemovie, in the final segment as a man who is taken over by the spirit of a serial killer.

Hamill’s character is a successful baseball player whose life is turned upside down when he suffers an accident that costs him his right eye. He subsequently undergoes an experimental operational procedure to replace it, but unfortunately the eye he gets belonged to a serial killer and a necrophilliac whose soul starts to take him over and tries and re-enact his killings.

The premise for the story is completely absurd. It was later parodied in an episode of the Simpsons called Hell Toupee where Homer Simpson gets a hair transplant and is taken over by the spirit of criminal Snake.

Still despite this the film works because it takes its absurd premise completely seriously and Mark Hamill is able to deliver quite a nuanced performance as he switches between the loving husband Brent and the monster that tries to take him over.

Village of the Damned/ Reverend George

A more minor role, Hamill appeared in this remake of the 1960’s cult classic. Though it was poorly received at the time of release, it has since developed a huge cult following.

The most notable thing about Hamill’s character is the way he is killed when the demonic children force him to shoot himself. Its not the goriest death in the film but its still quite disturbing nonetheless.

Whilst not as strong the original 60’s classic overall its a decent remake and it was quite nice at this point in his career to see Hamill return to playing a more toned down character after the string of cackling villains he had played.

The Trickster/ The Flash (1990’s), Justice League Unlimited, Lego DC Comics Superheroes: Attack of the Legion of Doom, The Flash (2014), Justice League Action

The Trickster is probably the character people associate with Hamill the most after Luke and the Joker. Not only did his performance as this character prove to be very popular, but he has also returned to the role many times over the past almost 30 years like the Joker and Luke.

Hamill first played the Trickster in the classic 1990’s live action version of the Flash. Whilst highly regarded now, sadly the show was not that successful when it first aired. It only lasted one season before being cancelled.

I think the series had real potential. It treated the source material seriously and it had a strong cast too. Clearly the show was both inspired by and also trying to cash in on the success of the Burton Batman films. The Flash was re-imagined as a darker, more brooding, angsty hero who was motivated by the death of a loved one at the hands of criminals like Batman. His costume is also reminiscent of Michael Keatons as Batman too, with the same sculpted latex muscles.

The show also had a dark and gritty tone like the Burton movies and took place in similar gloomy, Gothic settings. Finally its theme was also provided by Danny Elfman who also provided the theme for the Burton Batman films.

Mark Hamill’s version of the Trickster can be seen as yet another example of the Burton Batman’s influence on the series. In many ways he owes more to Jack Nicholson’s show stealing performance as the Joker than he does the Trickster of the comics.

In the comics the Trickster was really more of a lovable rogue than a villain. He was a crook, but he made sure that his crimes never killed anyone. He enjoyed his rivalry with the Flash, but he still had immense respect for him as a hero, and even liked him personally. In later issues the Trickster even became a fully fledged anti hero.

For this series however the Trickster is re-imagined as a sadistic, murdering psychopath like the Joker. Clearly the producers wanted the Flash to have a similar flamboyant, crazy archfoe like Nicholson’s Joker. A further parallel between the two villains can be found in the Tricksters first episode where he falls in love with the Flash’s love interest Megan Lockheart.

In the first Burton Batman film the Joker similarly falls in love with Batman’s love interest Vicki Vale.

In both instances the Joker and the Trickster think they have two love rivals in the form of Bruce Wayne and Batman, and Barry Allen and the Flash and try to murder the more harmless one, Bruce and Barry, being completely unaware that they are really the secret identity of their other ” love rival” Batman and the Flash.

If only the Trickster and the Joker knew that they were getting rid of the other guy too I think they’d have tried a bit harder.

In both cases the Joker and Tricksters crush’s led to some hilarious moments as the two villains are even crazier when in love (as indeed are we all).

The two whilst always psycho loonies become completely divorced from any kind of objective reality when pursuing the object of their affections. When the Joker first meets Vicki, he introduces himself by killing everyone else in the cafe, showing her pictures of his previous victims, and his former girlfriend whose face he has burned off with acid, after which he tries to burn Vicki’s face off with acid before Batman rescues her. He later sees this as him “doing well with a beautiful woman before she ran off with Batman.”

With the Trickster meanwhile, he and Megan first meet when she is chasing him for a series of grisly murders he carried out. The Trickster however corners Megan and captures her, after which he tries to slice her in half with a chainsaw. The Flash manages to save her in time, but the Trickster suddenly as he is being carted off falls in love with Megan and actually comes to believe that he saved her from the Flash and that she has been put under the Flash’s evil spell. Furthermore he also comes to believe that she was his loyal sidekick Prank, even though he never at any point had a sidekick called Prank.

When the Trickster first tells Megan that he has fallen in love with her, mere minutes after having tried to slice her in half you think he is joking. You think its just a taunt as the police take him away, but later when he is in the car talking about his beloved you realise “fuck he’s actually serious!

Whilst this version of the Trickster may have borrowed a lot from the Joker, in a nice irony he also may have inspired later versions of the Clown Prince of Crime too.

In his second appearance the Trickster is shown to be assisted by a young blonde woman named Zoey Clarke. Clarke begins as a groupie of the Trickster, sending him love letters in prison and yelling at Megan Lockheart that she didn’t deserve him, but eventually she helps him to escape and actually becomes his fantasy sidekick Prank.

Prank is utterly devoted to the Trickster even though he is relentlessly cruel to her. He ignores her at the best of times. He threatens to kill her, ties her up and puts a bag over her head that says “NAG NAG NAG” when she annoys him and regularly betrays her, sometimes even just because it amuses him rather than because he’s a dirty coward.

Yet despite this she always remains loyal to him. Zoey/Prank bares many similarities to Harley Quinn, the Jokers lover/sidekick who debuted many years later in Batman the Animated series. Harley like Zoey/Prank is utterly devoted to the Joker in spite the extreme physical and mental abuse he inflicts on her. Even on a superficial level they are both blonde, bubbly and sweet on the surface, but underneath they are vicious, sadistic and in their own way just as twisted and mad as the Joker and the Trickster themselves. Both even dress in similar bright, clown colours too.

There is even a scene where Zoey/Prank attempts to remove the Flash’s mask only to be threatened with death by the Trickster for trying to interfere in his rivalry with the hero. This is similar to the classic comic Mad Love, and its animated adaptation where Harley, foolishly believing that Batman is getting in the way of her and the Jokers courtship, captures Batman and tries to kill him only for the Joker to throw her out of a 5 storey window for trying to interfere in his fun with Batman!

You can see from these clips how the Trickster/Prank dynamic was a complete precursor to the Joker/Harley relationship. You could replace all 3 characters in the second video with the Joker, Harley and Batman and I don’t think you’d have to change anything but the names.

I have no idea if Prank was an influence on Harley. I must admit I have never seen her be mentioned as such, but she was definitely still her spiritual predecessor nonetheless. A blonde, childlike, sweet, but crazy murderer who was inexplicably devoted to a giggling, vicious psychopath who constantly mistreated her in the most appalling way’s played by Mark Hamill!

Whilst the Trickster was depicted as being the Flash’s archenemy, he was only in 2 episodes of the series. To be fair though the show only lasted for one year. Had it gone on longer then I’m sure he would have been in many more episodes.

The two episodes featuring the Trickster are in my opinion the best in the entire show. I think this series suffered from the fact that it was unable to use a lot of the Flash’s colourful rogues gallery. This was due to practical reasons as they simply couldn’t have brought characters like Gorilla Grodd to life realistically on their budget.

They did still have a few of the Flash’s other enemies such as Captain Cold and Mirror Master, as well as an evil version of The Flash based on the numerous Reverse Flash’s over the years.

However the Trickster was the real standout rogue of the series. He almost made up for the fact that they couldn’t have more famous enemies of the Flash. I’d rate Hamill’s Trickster as one of the greatest comic book villains adapted to film or television.

Like Nicholson’s Joker he simply steals any scene he is in and he is really what people remember the most from the 90’s series. That’s not to do down John Wesley Shipp who was a brilliant Flash, but I think that Hamill’s Trickster was really a stand out villain in every respect.

I’d say that the best episode with the Trickster was his second appearance. Here the Trickster captures and brainwashes the Flash, turning him into his partner in crime.

The scenes of the Trickster and the Flash going on a crime spree together and later putting Central City on trial are hilarious. They go completely Adam West in terms of how absurd they make it. I can kind of understand why the Trickster abandoned Prank for the Flash as he and the evil Flash are way more fun together.

You can tell Hamill and Shipp loved doing these scenes together. 

Hamill would go on to reprise the role of the Trickster over 10 years later in the animated series Justice League Unlimited.

The character only appeared in one episode “Flash and Substance.” Though drawn to resemble the version from the 90’s live action series, this interpretation of the character is actually closer to the comic book version. This Trickster though still insane is not a murderer. He is also a friend of the Flash and indeed the Flash later convinces him to not only tell him of a plot by the rogues to kill the Flash, but even turn himself in without a fight.

Whilst not as wild as his 90’s version, it was nice to see Mark get a chance to play a Trickster that was actually closer to the original version for once rather than a Joker copy.

Hamill next played the character in the animated movie “Lego DC Comics Superheroes: Attack of the Legion of Doom” (he also voiced Green Lantern’s archenemy Sinestro in this film too.) A joke is made about his resemblance to the Joker in other media, with someone even mistaking him for Batman’s archenemy.

Hamill later went on to reprise the role in live action in The Flash 2014 series. This series which is currently on its third season is a spin off of Arrow, with it, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow all making up a shared continuity.

I think this series has been a worthy successor to the original 90’s show. It has a strong cast, great characters, and is faithful to the source material. Unlike the 90’s series it has been able to feature even the most over the top villains from the comics such as the Shark King.

The makers of this series are big fans of the 90’s series too and have filled their version full of many references, tributes and Easter eggs to the 90’s series.

To start with many cast members of the 90’s version have made appearances in the modern Flash. Mark Hamill obviously reprises his role as the Trickster, whilst Amanda Pays also reprises her role as Tina McGee from the original too. John Wesley Shipp meanwhile plays Barry Allen’s father, Henry Allen.

The connections between the 90’s show and the 10’s show run deeper than that however. Its not a sequel but they are actually connected in universe. In its second season the modern Flash show explores the concept of alternate universes. When the Flash travels through the multiverse to Earth 2 we get a glimpse of other alternate universes. One of them is the universe the CW television series Supergirl takes place on (which is conformed when the Flash ends up travelling to her universe in Supergirl’s first season). Whilst another is shown to be the universe of the 90’s Flash.

This therefore means that not only do both series take place in the same multiverse, but the modern show is really an alternate version of the events of the 90’s show and that Hamill, Pays and Shipp are all playing alternate versions of their characters from the 90’s series. So in a way they are reprising their roles.

Though one discrepancy does exist in the fact that Shipp’s character is called Henry in the 10’s show and Barry in the 90’s show when they are supposed to be counterparts to each other, it can be explained this way.

In the 90’s show’s universe which we will just call Earth 90 for practicality sake, Henry Allen was named Barry instead. Maybe his parents had settled on either Henry or Barry as their child’s name and in Earth 90 they went for Barry, whilst on Earth 1 (the name of the universe the 2010’s series takes place on) they went for Henry. Barry Allen on Earth 90 went into the police force and through an accident became the Flash of that universe who went on to battle criminals such as his archenemy the Trickster.

On Earth 1 meanwhile Henry Allen for some reason became a Doctor instead. He therefore never became the Flash, never met Doctor McGee and married a woman named Noira and had a child who he named Barry (perhaps because he knew that was what his parents were going to call him). Henry’s son through an entirely different accident later ended up becoming the Flash of that universe.

Incidentally later episodes show another universe, called Earth 3 where Henry Allen also became the Flash.

In this universe Henry was called Jay Garrick however (the name of the original Flash from the comic books) as in this universe his parents divorced before his birth, so he took his mothers maiden name of Garrick. She meanwhile named him Jay, which was the name of his brother in Earth 90. Presumably his brother was never born and she named him Jay instead. Thus in two universes Henry is the Flash, but in one he is the father of the Flash.

The idea of the 2010’s series being an alternate series of events to the 90’s one is further explored in the Trickster episodes.

In the 2010’s series it is said that the Trickster, 20 years before the events of the series went on a massive rampage throughout Central City where he killed over a dozen people and destroyed whole buildings before being apprehended. Not only does this coincide with the date of his rampage from the 90’s show, but when we are shown pictures of his previous crime spree, pictures of Hamill from the 90’s show are used.

On Earth 1 since Henry never became the Flash in the 90’s, then there was no one to stop the Trickster and his rampage claimed even more lives in this universe. Sadly no mention has been made of Prank in this universe and the Earth 1 Trickster is instead served by his equally insane son Axel (who was the Trickster’s successor in the comics.)

Personally however I believe that Prank is Axel’s mother in this universe. Hopefully we’ll see Prank in a future episode. I’d love to see a family of Tricksters rampage their way across Central City. Also they could have Prank be in the Arrowverse version of Suicide Squad as a replacement for Harley Quinn who they can’t use. Ironically I’m sure most people would accuse Prank of just being a rip off of Harley Quinn, but us fans of the 90’s Flash series would know that Prank came first.

The Earth 1 Trickster is every bit as twisted, evil, sadistic and insane as the Earth 90 version so Hamill once again is really playing the Joker more than the Trickster of the comics.

The Earth 1 Trickster is not the Flash’s archenemy however like his 90’s counterpart was. That position is filled instead by Eobart Thwaine and Zoom in the 21st century series. The Trickster has in fact only appeared in two episodes of the series so far due to Hamill’s busy schedule.

Still despite this the Earth 1 Trickster is still presented as one of the Flash’s most dangerous enemies. He comes closer to killing him than most of his other foes. Even more impressive when you consider that he is one of the few in this series that doesn’t have powers. In his first battle with the Flash, the scarlet speedster is forced to discover another power in order to defeat him (the power to phase through solid objects in order to get a bomb off his arm)

I am not sure which of the two Trickster episodes is my favourite. They have both been very strong. I loved his twisted relationship with his son in his first appearance (there was even a nice homage to Star Wars when the Trickster says “I am your father” to Axel) However I also felt the Trickster and Weather Wizard made a great team in the second episode. I particularly liked the Tricksters delusional rant about how after he kills the Flash, the hero of the city who everyone looks up to in a horrible way in public, then everyone will think he saved the city. Even though he is a lunatic you still wonder how he came to that conclusion?

Whilst the Earth 1 Trickster has not appeared in series 3 so far, Mark Hamill did go on to play the Earth 3 version of the character in a small cameo.

This version of the Trickster physically resembles the Joker. He has white skin, a large grin and greenish hair. The Earth 3 Trickster is also even more insane than either of his two counterparts as he is willing to blow himself up at the drop of a hat. The Earth 1 Trickster at least is still shown to value his own safety, but this guy it seems was going to blow himself to pieces even before the Flash showed up.

The Earth 3 Trickster is shown to battle the Jay Garrick Flash who is played by John Wesley Shipp. This marks the second time the two actors were reunited in the modern Flash series. In the Tricksters first appearance in the 2014 series, the villain captures Henry Allen. I liked the scenes with Henry and the Trickster, not only because they were nice homages to the 90’s series, but its also funny thinking that the Trickster and Henry in another universe (two in fact including Earth 3) were sworn archenemies with one another, but in this universe they barely know each other. Its the same with Henry and Doctor McGee who in another universe were practically soul mates, but on Earth 1 they only meet twice.

Mark Hamill and John Wesley Shipp have been fighting with each other for 20 years across 3 different universes, and finally when Mark’s about to kill John, John’s son from another ursts in and saves him!

Finally Hamill also recently voiced the Trickster in the animated series Justice League Action (where he also voiced both the Joker and Swamp Thing.) Sadly I have not had a chance to watch this series yet so I can’t comment on Hamill’s performance, but I’d imagine that it will probably be closer to the actual Trickster so as to not clash with Hamill’s Joker.

Not many actors have 3 characters that everyone, audiences, directors, writers want to see them keep returning to for over 20 years. Most actors are lucky if they have one character like that, like Arnold Schwarzanegger with the Terminator.  Some have 2 such as Stallone with Rocky and Rambo but its quite rare to have 3. The only other actor I can think of off the top of my head that had 3 characters they kept returning to over several decades is Peter Cushing.

Cushing played Victor Frankenstein, Van Helsing and Sherlock Holmes from when he was a young man to when he was an old man. Whilst other actors played those roles in between, audiences clearly were always wanting to see more of Cushing in these roles. With Hamill its the same. Yes other actors have played the Joker to great acclaim, and even the Trickster too, but still clearly people haven’t got tired of his versions of those great characters and obviously there will only be one Luke. Also much like Cushing with Van Helsing and Holmes, you almost don’t even notice that they are older. Cushing was still able to thrash Vampires in his old age as much as he could as a young Van Helsing, whilst Hamill’s Trickster is still as dynamic and engaging on the screen as he ever was.

No one can terrorise a room full of people and make you laugh at the same time quite like Hamill.

What’s even more incredible is that all 3 of Hamill’s performances as these characters in some ways are being brought to larger audiences than ever before after many decades. His version of the Trickster certainly is. Though well received from the start the original Flash series was for many years overlooked, whilst the recent series has not only proven to be a massive hit, but has also helped more people discover the original too. His version of the Joker meanwhile has similarly been arguably brought to larger audiences through the Arkham games (one of which saw him win a BAFTA for his performance) Though the original Batman animated series was always very popular, at the very least even if the Arkham games are not a wider audience they are still very high profile.

Finally the modern Star Wars films again though not more popular than the original are still massively successful.

Its doubtless that Hamill will go on to play all 3 characters for many more years to come. Personally I’ll always be happy to watch his Trickster terrorise the Flash and Central City either in live action or animation.

Ferris Boyle/ Batman the Animated Series

Hamill voiced this villain in what is regarded by fans and critics alike as one of, if not the greatest episode of Batman the Animated Series, Heart of Ice.

Boyle in contrast to the Joker and the Trickster was more of a straight, mundane villain. A slimy, crooked, weasly business man who doesn’t care who he hurts.

Still Boyle has the honour of creating one of Batman’s most dangerous rogues, Mr Freeze.

Victor Fries originally worked for Boyle. He was working on an experiment to try and cure his terminally ill wife Nora. He had placed her in suspended animation until a treatment could be found for her condition. Unfortunately Boyle decided to pull the plug feeling that it wasn’t profitable.

Victor pleaded with Ferris not to interrupt the experiment as it would kill Nora,  but Ferris didn’t listen and in the resulting scuffle where Victor pulled a gun on Ferris there was an explosion which seemingly killed both Nora and Victor.

This scene is easily one of the most powerful in any Batman adaptation. Michael Ansara who voices Victor and Mark Hamill play off of one another brilliantly. Fries is so emotional, begging with Boyle who in contrast is utterly pitiless. At no point does Boyle show even the slightest bit of compassion towards Victor and Nora. Then of course there is the weasly way he gets the better of Victor which helps to make Boyle one of the most utterly loathsome characters in the whole series.

Of course this later comes back to bite Boyle when it is revealed that Victor survived the accident and returns to get revenge on Boyle.

The final showdown between the two is another thrilling moment as Boyle pitifully begs Freeze to spare him, only for Freeze to be just as pitiless as he once was in return.

“You beg? In my nightmares I see my Nora behind the glass, begging me with frozen eyes. How I have longed to see that look frozen on you!”

You are actually annoyed for the only time in the series when Batman stops a villain from killing someone.

Hamill and Kevin Conroy who voices Batman also play off of one another brilliantly too. Hamill would later go on to play the Joker opposite Conroy as Batman, but even here you can see how well the two actors work opposite each other.

From the start its obvious that Bruce dislikes Boyle immensely, even before he knows what he has done, Bruce can tell what a phony Boyle is, and later though Batman stops Freeze from killing Boyle, he also doesn’t bother to free his legs from the ice. Earlier when Freeze accidentally shot one of his own men with his ice gun, Batman went to great lengths to help Freeze’s lackey. He even took him back to the Batcave to treat him. Here however he seems to enjoy watching Boyle squirm in the ice and even taunts him at one point.

Whilst not as dynamic a character as the Joker or the Trickster, Boyle was still an effective villain in his own right. He is a classic example of the banality of evil. A selfish, greedy coward who always thinks he will be able to walk away from the harm he causes other people unscathed. Hamill really captured the characters sneering arrogance and wretched cowardice perfectly.

The Joker/ DC Animated Universe, Arkham Game series, Batman the Killing Joke, Justice League Action, Birds of Prey, Batman New Times

Mark’s greatest role in my opinion. To so many of us who grew up in the 90’s, Mark is THE Joker.

Mark first played the Joker in the classic Batman the Animated Series in 1992. This series would be the first in what has become known as the DC Animated Universe, a group of tv shows and films all of which share the same continuity. The DCAU as its more commonly known would last for over 10 years until Justice League Unlimited in 2006. Most of Mark’s performances as the Joker are within the DCAU, though he has played the character in a couple of high profile non DCAU productions too such as most notably the Arkham games.

Many great actors such as Jack Nicholson, Cesar Romero and Heath Ledger have brought the Joker to life over the decades and they were all fantastic, but personally I think Mark was the best. Of course that’s just my opinion, but I think that Mark’s Joker had the widest range. Romero captured the characters lighter characteristics, Nicholson meanwhile captured the darker humor of the villain, whilst Ledger embodied the chaotic aspects, as well as his twisted relationship with Batman.

Hamill meanwhile I feel was able to capture all of those elements in his performance.

In certain episodes of Batman the Animated Series, Hamill’s Joker is a Romero style comical villain, such as Make Em Laugh where his plan is to brainwash three comedians in order to win a comedy trophy. At the end of the episode the Joker is humiliated by having the comedy trophy he wanted to steal knocked onto his head and his trousers pulled down in public. Such a scene would not look out of place in a classic campy Batman comic from the 60’s or indeed the Adam West series.

Hamill is every bit as good as Romero in showing a lighter side to the Joker in episodes like this, but at the same time he was also just as frightening as Ledger or Nicholson ever were in the darker episodes of Batman the Animated Series.

In the episode called Harlequinade the Joker plans to destroy all of Gotham with a nuclear bomb. Even when Batman disables the bomb the Joker still fires at it with a machine gun declaring “that bomb’s going off even if I go with it”! Here Hamill captures the “just want to watch the world burn” persona and psychotic fanaticism of the character as well as Ledger ever did. You genuinely believe that his Joker is prepared to kill himself, and millions of innocent people just for the sake of a joke.

In the episode The Laughing Fish meanwhile (which is based on the comic of the same name) the Joker tries to copyright fish that he infects with his Joker gas (which gives them the same hideous grin he has). When he is told he can’t copyright fish, a natural resource he starts murdering people one by one until he gets his wish. Just like the Dark Knight he announces who he is going to kill before he does it. I was always terrified of this episode when I was young. The Joker is more like a horror movie villain in this episode, stalking his victims in the night, preying on the most vulnerable and weak.

Another example of how frightening Hamill’s Joker could be can be seen in Jokers Favour where the Joker torments the lowly Charlie Collins for two years. Charlie angers the Joker when after a long day at work, he screams at the Joker on the road for cutting him off. Once he realises however that its the Joker and not just a rude driver, Charlie panics and drives away. Unfortunately the Joker starts following him.

Again I was always scared of this scene as a child. Imagine being in Charlies situation here. You shout and scream at someone you think is just an arrogant jerk, but then you see that its the most wanted man in the country! Then you hope he’ll just forget it. Surely he has other fish to fry. Indeed the Joker is being chased by both Batman and the police at that point. Yet he still devotes his attention to Charlie, following him, taunting him just simply by waving his hand out of the car. Later as Charlie panics he becomes lost in the woods and soon to his horror sees the Joker is still following him and now there is no one else around. When the Joker corners Charlie he agrees to spare him as long as Charlie helps the Joker at a later date.

Charlie goes to the effort of moving and changing his name to avoid the Joker, but two years on the Joker reveals that he has been following Charlie the whole time before he asks him for a favour (which would have killed Charlie had it not been for Batman).

Perversely the Joker describes this torture of Charlie and ruining his entire life as his hobby!

“For two years he watched me like a bug in a jar, watched and laughed and threatened my family!

Its a brilliant example of how chaotic the Joker truly is the way no one is safe from his inhuman cruelty. One minute he could be targeting the Mayor such as in the episode Be A Clown, the next he could abandon those plans to target the most lowly, harmless citizen like Charlie Collins all because it amuses him.

Finally in addition to this Hamill also I feel was able to portray the characters darker humour as effectively as any other actor too. Like Nicholson he was often able to get us to laugh at the villains vilest actions, like torturing Commissioner Gordon and killing his own men on a whim.

I have seen many people say that whenever they read a Joker comic they instinctively have Mark’s voice in their head for the Joker. I do too, and I think the reason for that is that unlike the other Joker performances you can imagine Mark’s voice fitting the villain in any type of story, from any era.

If its the camp, silly Joker from the 60’s Mark’s voice fits, if its the terrifying Joker that cripples Barbara Gordon from the 80’s then Hamill’s voice still fits.

Obviously you couldn’t imagine Ledger in a camp Adam West style story, and similarly you couldn’t imagine Romero in a darker Batman.

Thus again whilst the other actors managed to successfully portray the Joker from a particular era, Mark Hamill to me was the only one who was the Joker all around.

Another aspect of the Jokers personality that the 90’s animated series captured perfectly was his relationship with Batman. In this series the Joker wanted to kill Batman, but he was determined that he was the only one who would kill him.

Whilst this was something of a cliched premise, the shows writers and Hamill I think were able to do something new with it.

In the episode The Man Who Killed Batman the caped crusader is seemingly killed when he accidentally falls of a building during a confrontation with small time crook “Sid the Squid”. Sid becomes known as the man who killed Batman by the underworld and its not long before he meets the Joker.

The Joker pretends to be delighted with his foes demise at first. Even claiming he wants to shake Sid’s hand, but it’s apparent from the beginning that underneath he is unhappy with the whole situation. He later stages a robbery to draw the Batman out and when it doesn’t work he believes that Batman is gone and later not only tries to kill Sid, but even holds a funeral for the Dark Knight.

The Joker even cries at Batman’s death. At first it seems like a totally surreal situation. The Joker of all people is devastated at Batman’s death? He’s almost mourning him like a friend! When he says “without Batman crime has no punchline” you almost forget what their relationship really was and feel sorry for the Joker losing the one person who gave his life meaning!

However you later realise that it actually makes perfect sense. For the past 7 years the Joker has been determined to get back at Batman so much he has devoted his entire existence to it. He actually has had nothing else in his life for so long but his feud with Batman, and now he finds out that it was all for nothing. All those years were completely wasted.

The fact that Batman was also disposed of by such a small time crook hurts his ego tremendously. Now in people’s eyes if Batman is so easy to dispose of, maybe he wasn’t that powerful after all? Maybe it was just that the likes of the Joker, the Penguin and Two Face were so incompetent? Thus he is killing Sid almost to save face more than anything else.

Mark Hamil has listed this scene as being his all time favourite performance as the Joker and has even performed it at conventions.

Its such a delicious irony that if someone else ever kills Batman, the Joker, his greatest ever adversary will be the only person to avenge him (as the likes of Robin and Gordon would never kill anyone)

Another example of the Jokers obsession with killing Batman can be found in the episode Joker’s Favour. Here the Joker is cornered by Charlie after his attempt on his life. Charlie finally fights back and reveals that he found one of the Jokers old bombs. Charlie tells the Joker that he has had enough of him tormenting him and his family and so he is going to blow them both up.

The Joker becomes absolutely terrified to the point where he ends up calling out to Batman for help. When Batman shows up, the Joker even cowers behind the caped crusader until it is revealed that the bomb is a dud leaving the Joker utterly humiliated.

Probably the low point of the Jokers career.

The great thing about this scene however is that in many ways it is the reverse of the Jokers Eulogy to Batman. The Joker does not fear death in this series. We saw that when he was happy to blow himself up to destroy Gotham. Here however he is terrified at the thought of being killed by a “miserable little nobody” like Charlie Collins.

The Joker would love to be killed by Batman when he finally drives him over the edge, or in a blaze of glory that takes down Gotham. But he can’t bare the thought of suffering such an ignoble end at the hands of someone so (in his eyes) insignificant. Charlie knows this of course and rubs it in.

“You miserable little nobody. If I get caught again. Your wife and son are history!”

“You’re not getting caught. Not this time. I found this blown out of the van. This is how it ends Joker, no grand schemes, no final duel with the Dark Knight. Tomorrow all the papers will read is that the great Joker was found blown to pieces in an alley alongside a miserable little nobody. Kind of funny. You see I can destroy a man’s dreams too, and that’s really the only dream you’ve got. Isn’t it?”

I think Hamill is just as brilliant in this scene as he is in the famous Joker Eulogy moment as he really does make the Joker seem pitiful and desperate the way he tries to reason with Charlie, calls out to Batman for help in his absolute shame, and even hilariously at one point tells Charlie he’s crazy!

You’d have never thought at the start of the episode when the Joker terrorised Charlie that Charlie would later bring the villain to his knees. That was the great thing about Mark’s Joker though. He was such an utterly unpredictable character all around. You’d always hope he would show up, but at the same time you could never guess what type of story it would be or what would happen when he did.

You could to some extent with Batman’s other rogues. With villains like Mr Freeze or Clayface or Two Face for instance you would expect a darker episode, whilst with the Riddler you’d know it would be more campy. You could also guess what their motives would be too to some extent. Mr Freeze wants to help his wife, or its to do with his wife in some way, Clayface wants to be normal, Poison Ivy cares about plants.

With Mark’s Joker however you have no idea what way it could go. Would it be a silly comedy episode where the Joker was a total clown? Or would it be a dark frightening episode that takes us deep into what a relentless sadist he really is? Or would it be both?

What would the Joker want? Would his plans be a threat to all of Gotham or would he focus on something stupid like a comedy contest? Would the Joker be a deranged madman not caring if he blew himself up to get the Batman, or a miserable coward calling to him for help? Would he try and smash Batman’s skull in with a wrench or cry over his death? Would he casually toss the woman who loves him more than anything out of a window because she didn’t get his joke, or embrace her after she tried to blow his brains out and foiled his scheme? Would he toss one of his own henchman to his man eating mutant hyena’s because he asked a stupid question, or would he grieve when Batman destroyed his stupid robot, Captain Clown as though it were his son!

All of this made the Hamill Joker a character that you never got bored of watching.

Of all the Batman’s main enemies the Joker appeared by far the most frequently in the animated series which is not surprising. The animated Joker was an absolute tour de force in terms of his characterisation and Hamill’s performance.

After Batman the Animated Series finished Hamill would reprise the role of the Joker in the feature length film Batman Mask of the Phantasm.

A sequel to the Animated Series, this film was actually originally intended to be the finale to the series overall.

Here the origins of the Joker were explored. Originally the Joker (before he fell into a vat of chemicals that bleached his skin white and drove him insane) was a sadistic hitman working for the mob (much like Jack Nicholson’s version) He was responsible for the murder of Batman’s one true love Andrea Bueamont’s father.

Andrea returns many years later as the masked Phantasm and begins murdering all the members of the mob responsible for her fathers death, saving the Joker for last.

There are some brilliant Batman/Joker fights in this film but the greatest moment is Andrea’s final confrontation with the Joker. Here the villain is broken, beaten, and bloodied. He has no way of defending himself and she wants him dead more than anyone else on the planet. She is also already a killer. On top of that the Jokers base of operations for years is exploding. All of his life’s work is going up in flames and what does he do? He rolls his head back and laughs as though it were his greatest moment.

Again this is yet another example of how Mark’s Joker is just completely unpredictable. Still as mad as it is, much like the Joker shedding a tear at Batman’s death, it does makes sense from the Jokers twisted perspective.

Whilst the Joker does hate the idea of his death being a low key event, and not a final duel with his archenemy, at the same time you can see how he would laugh at the irony of it all. Batman made the Joker. He was a no name crook who was driven insane when Batman accidentally knocked him into a vat of chemicals. For years he has loved tormenting Batman with this knowledge, but now he is facing a monster that he created, the Phantasm who is going to finally be the one to kill him. Added to that the fact that Batman cares for her means that in death the Joker will taint Batman’s life in a way he never managed to in life, as killing the Joker will finally put Andrea beyond a point of no return. Thus he can’t help but laugh at it all.

This scene also demonstrates another defining aspect of Hamill’s performance as the clown prince of crime. His dynamic use of the villains laughter. Hamill would apparently practice his laugh on the way to the recording studio in his car. He joked that it was odd that no one seemed to think his behavour was odd.

Whilst Batman Mask of the Phantasm was intended to be the end of that version of Batman, ultimately a sequel series set many years later called The New Batman Adventures would soon follow. Hamill once again reprized his role as the Joker.

Much like the original series, the Joker was the most recurring villain. Of his many appearances in this series, his best was undoubtedly Mad Love, which was based on an old comic written by the creators of the series.

Here we discover the origins of the Jokers sidekick Harley Quinn, a character original to the Animated Series that proved to be so popular she was later incorporated into the comics and even subsequent live action adaptations of Batman such as Birds of Prey and the recent blockbuster Suicide Squad.

Harley began as the Joker’s psychiatrist Doctor Harleen Quinzell but she eventually fell in love with him after he spun false stories about an abusive past that she foolishly believed. She came to see the Joker as a poor lost soul that she needed to protect.

I quite like the way that the introduction of a love interest will almost always show a softer side to even the vilest villain like Alfred Bester in Babylon 5, but in the Mark Hamill Jokers case however it just shows a whole new twisted side to him.

Harley Quinn is a woman who loves the Joker more than anything else in the world. She gives up everything to be with him, and there is nothing she wouldn’t do for him.

He however treats her in the most appalling way. He regularly beats her, even comes close to killing her on many occasions. He also never shows her any real affection  and generally just uses her for his own ends and abandons her, even outright betrays her when it suits him.

A new low even for him!

Mark Hamill would go on to play the Joker in three episodes of Superman the animated series called “Worlds Finest”. This crossover episode established both of the Batman and the Superman cartoons existing in the same universe, effectively creating the DC Animated Universe.

In Worlds Finest the Joker travels to Metropolis after stealing a Kryptonite statue to make a deal with Lex Luthor to kill Superman for a billion dollars.

A meeting of two great, but twisted minds.

The Joker actually comes closer to killing Superman than any of his foes apart from Darkseid. Pretty impressive when you consider he doesn’t have any super powers. Had it not been for Batman then Superman would have been well and truly dead. Lois Lane too.

Some fans have criticised the fact that the Joker was able to dispatch Superman, and in the later Justice League series heroes like Wonder Woman and the Flash relatively easily whilst he still always struggles with Batman who has no super powers at all.

However I don’t see this as a contradiction. To start with Superman has a key weakness that the Joker can exploit. Remember that Lex Luthor, Supes archenemy has no powers either, and he not only fights the Man of Steel but the entire Justice League on a regular basis.

Also many of the more powerful heroes such as Superman and Wonder Woman greatly underestimate the Joker. They think due to his somewhat comical appearance that he is not a real threat. Superman doesn’t even take the Joker seriously when he has a Kryptonite statue until its too late.

Batman meanwhile through experience knows to never underestimate the Joker for a second and to always expect the unexpected with the Joker.

World’s Finest is a truly excellent story. Hamill is on top form and watching him interact with Clancy Brown’s version of Lex Luthor is also brilliant. Clancy Brown is for me and many others the definitive Lex. He is to that character what Hamill is to the Joker.

Watching the Joker and Lex work together is always interesting because you are never sure which one is worse. On the one hand the Joker is more senselessly cruel. You could never imagine Lex doing something as heinous as crippling Barbara Gordon just for the hell of it like the Joker. Everything Lex does has a purpose even if its just to get back at Superman. At the same time however the Joker at the very least has the excuse of being completely insane, where as Lex Luthor is completely responsible for his actions.

Sadly the only downside of having the Joker and Lex together is that whenever they fight one has to naturally get undermined as a villain. As the Joker is the most popular supervillain of all time, poor old Lex is always the one that gets undermined. I say that even as someone who prefers the Joker to Lex.

World’s Finest proves to be no different as at the end of the three part story, the Joker captures Lex and uses his own Lex Wing to bombard all of Metropolis with bombs killing thousands of people, before Batman and Superman manage to stop the Joker and save Lex.

Its sad that even in the animated universe the Joker still beats Lex but its nothing new.

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In animation or in comics Lex is always the Jokers little bitch.

Whilst its sad to see Lex get undermined, the combo of Brown and Hamill together is brilliant and not surprisingly this wouldn’t be the last time the these two versions of the famous villains would meet. In fact the DCAU Joker is ironically in more episodes with Lex Luthor than he is with any other Batman villain, apart from Harley Quinn of course.

Hamill would also voice the Joker in an episode of an animated series called Static Shock. This episode called “The Big Leagues” sees the Joker travel to the main hero of the show, Virgil Hawkins city to recruit a metahuman gang. Batman and Robin follow him there and working with Virgil they are able to foil the Clown Prince of Crimes plans.

Sadly this episode is not quite as strong as World’s Finest. Its not bad by any means but it is kind of just a standard crossover episode, though at least it did establish Static Shock as part of the DCAU.

Following the conclusion of The New Batman Adventures and Superman, Hamill would next play the Joker in the feature length film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

This movie served as the finale to the Batman Beyond series. Batman Beyond was set 50 years after the New Batman Adventures and Superman. It sees an elderly Bruce Wayne train a new Batman, Terry McGuinness to protect the Gotham of the future.

This film naturally not only features the return of the Joker, but also shows us how the villains feud with the original Batman came to an end.

At some point after the New Batman Adventures (and Justice League and Justice League Unlimited) the Joker captured the second Robin, Tim Drake and tortured him for weeks on end.

Robin eventually broke and told the Joker all of Batman’s secrets. The Joker continued to torture the boy even after he told him all he wanted to know, until eventually Tim was driven completely insane. The Joker then dressed Robin as a tiny versions of himself and dubbed him “Little J”. He even came to see Robin as his son!

In this scene Mark’s Joker is every bit as terrifying and evil as either Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledgers Jokers ever were. Its hard to believe he was the same villain from Make Em Laugh with the trophy on his head and his pants by his ankles.

Ultimately the Jokers plan to use Robin or Little J to kill Batman backfires on him literally as Robin ultimately shoots the Joker through the heart.

It took a year for Robin to be nursed back to sanity after his ordeal. Bruce Wayne meanwhile forbade Tim from ever being Robin again.

50 years later the Joker mysteriously returns from the grave to torment Bruce Wayne and the new Batman Terry McGuinness  It is later revealed that the Joker survived by embedding his DNA and mind on a microchip which he then implanted into Robin’s neck in the weeks he held him hostage.

Though it took decades the chip was eventually able to physically turn Robin into a copy of the Joker and allow his mind to take over Tim’s body. The physical and mental changes only last for a short while however after which Tim has no memory of what happened, though the Joker says at the end that soon he will be able to live in Tim’s body permanently.

At the end of the film Terry McGuinness finally puts an end to the Joker when he uses his own electric joy buzzer to destroy the chip.

Personally I’d rate Return of the Joker as my favourite Batman movie in either live action or animation. I’d also say its Mark’s finest hour as the Joker and the most effective take on the villain I’ve ever seen.

In this film the Joker is an absolute monster through and through. Mark somewhat underplays the villain at certain points which gives the impression that the Joker’s sadism comes from who he is rather than his lunacy.

This idea was previously explored in Mask of the Phantasm when we saw that prior to becoming the Joker, he was already a sadistic criminal who murdered Andrea’s father in cold blood.

In Return of the Joker they continue the idea that all of the silly aspects of his personality, the clown costumes, gag guns, stem from his madness, whilst all of his cruelty comes entirely from who he is. When he talks about torturing Robin and “peeling back the layers” of the boy’s mind and taunts Batman over the death of his parents, there is an eerie calmness to him right before he bursts into a fit of his trademark diabolical laughter, which suggests that actually he knows exactly what he is doing. He isn’t just some madman killing because he is divorced from reality. Sane or insane he’d always enjoy hurting people.

This is by far my favourite Batman/Joker confrontation in any medium. The Joker has never seemed more monstrous the way he not only relentlessly tortures Robin, a teenage boy, but also tries to drag him down to his level too by forcing him to shoot Batman..

After Return of the Joker, Hamill would next go on to play the villain in the Justice League animated series. This series was released after Batman Beyond Return of the Joker, but it was set many years before it, though it was also set after the earlier Batman, the New Batman Adventures and Superman animated series.

The Joker first appeared in the two parter Injustice for All. This story as its name would suggest revolves around the Injustice Gang, the evil counterpart to the Justice League.

The Joker is not asked by Lex Luthor who formed the gang to join. Understandably Lex isn’t too happy with the Joker after their last alliance. The Joker however manages to prove himself by capturing Batman and ironically is the last member of the gang to be captured, managing to knock out Wonder Woman with an exploding doll and the Flash with exploding marbles!

Its great seeing the Joker and Lex together again and thankfully this time they don’t undermine either of them. Both get their chance to shine and have brilliant scenes with their archenemies Batman and Superman.

The Joker would next appear in two cameo’s in the episodes Only A Dream part 1 (again opposite Lex Luthor) A Better World part 2 before going on to appear as the main villain in the two parter Wild Cards.

In Wild Cards the Joker takes control of the Vegas strip. He plants bombs all over it and issues a challenge to the League to disarm them. However he also sends a new group of Metahumans (whom he freed from captivity and dubbed the Royal Flush Gan) out to try and stop the League

The Joker broadcasts the Leagues battle with the Royal Flush Gang on television to millions of people all over the world. After the League disarm the bombs it is revealed that the Joker’s real plan was to use Ace, the final member of the gang who has telepathic powers to drive everyone watching insane.

Wild Cards was a brilliant send off for the DCAU Joker. It saw him become a global threat as he tried to drag the entire world into his own lunacy. In a way it made sense. The Joker was always kind of a response to Batman. Originally the Joker was just an average crook, but then he became the Joker as a result of Batman becoming a more elaborate crime fighter. Now similarly Batman has upped his game with the Justice League, a team of super powered heroes who regularly save the world, and so the Joker has put together his own team of super powered psychopaths, the Royal Flush Gang and has come up with a scheme that will allow him to threaten not just Gotham but the whole world!

Whilst Wild Card’s marked Hamill’s final performance as the Joker in the DCAU, he would go on to play the villain in many non DCAU productions.

Hamill appeared opposite Adam West as Batman in the animated short film Batman New Times. He also provided the voice for the Joker in the short lived live action series Birds of Prey. Here his voice was dubbed over actor Roger Stoneburner who the producers felt resembled the character more. The Joker only appeared in one scene where he cripples Batgirl.

Hamill also voiced the Joker in a special feature included on the special edition DVD release of Batman 1989 which depicts the origin of Robin. This scene was originally to have been included in the Burton film, but was left out at the last minute.

In 2009 Hamill voiced the Joker in the video game Batman Arkham Asylum and returned to voice the character in the 2011 sequel Batman Arkham City. Both games were massive successes critically and commercially with Hamill even winning a Video Game BAFTA for his performance in Arkham City.

Whilst Hamill stated that his performance in Arkham City would be his last, he has since returned to the role twice. First in an animated adaptation of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke.

Here Hamill was reunited with Kevin Conroy as Batman yet again. Conroy had voiced Batman throughout the entire DCAU, and also in the Arkham games opposite Hamill.

Kevin Conroy is really Mark Hamill’s greatest on screen adversary. His second would be the Empire who has fought for a longer period of time, but not as often, whilst his third would be John Wesley Shipp who he has also fought over the course of 20 years.

He and Conroy have as good a dynamic as Batman and the Joker as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing had as Dracula and Van Helsing.

The Killing Joke was easily one of Hamill’s best performances. It gave him a chance to portray a more sympathetic version of the Joker. In the DCAU we knew that the Joker had always been evil, but the origin story presented in the Killing Joke depicts the Joker as a pitiful failed comedian who is driven to the brink of sanity when his beloved wife perishes in a tragic accident. He is later pushed over the edge when he falls into the vat of chemicals that transforms him into a chalk faced ghoul.

With this version of the character Hamill gets a chance to add a tragic edge to the villain, not only in the flashbacks, but even when the Joker tortures Gordon in an attempt to drive him insane. You can tell buried underneath the madness is a trace of the decent man he once was and ironically it is that that drives him to do such horrible things in this story. The Joker knows he is a monster and still somewhere feels guilt for it. Thus the only way he can ease that guilt is to prove to himself that anyone could be as crazy as he is given the right tragic circumstances. He therefore inflicts the worst tragedy possible on Gordon to try and make him snap.

When Gordon doesn’t snap the Joker can’t take it as it makes him realise that maybe its not just the tragic circumstances the befell him. Maybe there was always a monster lurking under the surface of the seemingly harmless failed comedian and loving husband just waiting to be unleashed.

Following the Killing Joke, Hamill would voice the Joker in the current Justice League animated series Justice League Action, though sadly I haven’t had a chance to see this series yet.

Hamill will always for me and so many others be the definitive Joker. Whilst he has played many great villains over the years the Joker is the one that I think he really threw himself into the most. Hamill himself has even referred to the character as his favourite role.

I hope he continues to play the role for many more years to come, but even if he doesn’t I think it can be agreed he has already had a hell of a run as the character.

The Hobgoblin/ Spider-Man The Animated Series

No one has made more puns about killing superheroes than Hamill.

Mark Hamill voiced this villain in the classic 90’s Spider-Man the animated series. The Hobgoblin was one of the shows most recurring villains overall. Whilst John Semper the producer of the series hated the Hobgoblin character from the comics, ironically he kept using him more than most other villains because he loved Hamill’s performance and working with him.

The Hobgoblin first appears in a two parter in the first season. Here the character actually manages to temporarily dethrone the Kingpin, the main villain of the series and take his place. Spider-Man is forced to go into an alliance with Norman Osborne and the Kingpin (albeit loosely) to bring the Hobgoblin down.

At first glance the Hobgoblin is somewhat similar to the Joker. He is another cackling, sadistic, flamboyant villain, but underneath he is actually a completely different character.

The Hobgoblin is not insane. He is just a money grubbing crook. All he wants is wealth and power and there is nothing he won’t do to get it. He’ll stab anyone in the back. In fact in his first appearance he manages to achieve not just a double cross, but a quadruple cross!

The fact that the Hobgoblin was merely someone with no scruples rather than an active psychopathic monster who wanted to make people suffer like the Joker, or even a power mad megolomaniac like Lex Luthor helped him stand out as quite an interesting and unique supervillain in his own right.

He didn’t always have to be the main threat in every episode he appeared in. He still could be such as in his first appearance, but in other episodes such as his season two appearance (which was also a crossover with the X-Men animated series) the Hobgoblin has merely taken advantage of the actual main villain, Doctor Landon’s scheme for his own ends.

Doctor Landon plans to exterminate all of Mutant kind with a new form of plague. No one of course knows this and to the general public at large, Landon is a benevolent scientist who wants to help Mutants. Even Beast initially believes he is a good man. Only the Hobgoblin knows what he is really doing however and blackmails him for money. The Hobgoblin is perfectly happy for Landon to commit genocide just so long as he can make a bit of money out of it!

Ironically however its the Hobgoblin that alerts Spider-Man and Wolverine to what Landon is really doing, as after Landon double crosses him, the Hobgoblin attempts to terrorise Landon in revenge which naturally draws the wallcrawlers suspicions.

Still again you can see how its interesting that on the one hand the Hobgoblin is one of the most reprehensible characters in the series as he is happy for millions of innocent men, women and children to die, on the other again he is not actively wanting to bring it about either. He is literally just indifferent to all forms of human suffering if it benefits him.

In the end the Hobgoblin ends up ironically saving mutankind (though not on purpose). He steals all of Landon’s work in a further effort to blackmail him for its safe return, but when Landon tries to take it back (and dispose of the Hobgoblin) the Hobgoblin ends up accidentally throwing Landon into a vat of chemicals in the resulting fight, which ironically mutates Landon into a 100 foot tall near unstoppable monster.

I always loved the way that the Hobgoblin fucked off after turning Landon into a monster that nearly ravaged all of New York, and took the combined efforts of the X-Men and Spider-Man to stop (even then had it not been for Landon’s assistant who was also a mutant the mutant Landon would have killed them all).

Again you can see how he just doesn’t care about the carnage he causes as along as he can make a profit on it. It doesn’t bother him one bit that Landon will kill thousands of people, he just flies away and leaves the X-Men and Spider-Man to clean up his mess even saying dryly.

“The chance for profit has gone and therefore so am I. So long suckers be seeing ya”

The Hobgoblins insatiable greed however proves to be his undoing in the third season. The Hobgoblin discovers a device which can open up portals and allow him to travel anywhere he wants. Naturally this proves to be useful for carrying out thefts, but when the machine begins to run out of power, the Hobgoblin is forced to go to the Kingpin for help, as only he has the resources to fix it. It was his company that built it in the first place.

The Hobgoblin thinks he can manipulate the Kingpin, but the Kingpin goes behind his back and tries to strong arm Norman Osborne into revealing the identity of the Hobgoblin. Unfortunately this ends up bringing back memories of Norman’s brief stint as the Green Goblin, causing that persona to re-emerge.

The Green Goblin subsequently attempts to kill the Hobgoblin and ends up exposing his identity to the world in the process resulting in the Hobgoblins arrest.

The Hobgoblin ironically did not need the Kingpin’s device at that point anyway. His past crimes had already given him tremendous wealth. He could have lived the rest of his life comfortably with no one, not even Spider-Man or the Kingpin coming close to discovering who he really was, but he was just so greedy he had to have more and ultimately that brought him down. Also the fact that it was Norman Osborne, someone he had stabbed in the back twice because of his greed just makes it all the better.

An alternate version of the Hobgoblin would appear in the second last episode of the series. Here ironically the Hobgoblin and the Green Goblin of this universe were shown to be best friends and even worked for an evil alternate version of Spider-Man bonded to the Carnage symbiote called Spider-Carnage (how’s that for a backwards reality!).

Its kind of sad in a way as you can see from this episode how, if the Green Goblin had not been so petty in insisting that he be the only Goblin themed villain, the two Goblins could have been an unstoppable team. In this universe the two villains manage to destroy all of New York and kill everyone in the city, bar J Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson, who they only spare because they need them. They also managed to hold their own against a whole army of Spider-Men from alternate universes (including one who has Doc Ock’s tentacles).

Had our Hobgoblin and Green Goblin teamed up, then our Spider-Man would not have stood a chance.

Whilst Hamill’s Hobgoblin may not have been quite as sensational a character as his Joker, it was still a brilliant performance all around and its not hard to see why John Semper kept bringing him back.

Solomon Grundy/ Justice League

Hamill voiced this villain in the DCAU Justice League animated series. Grundy was never a main villain. He was a large, super powered, idiotic, almost child like cursed Zombie who was often nothing more than a villain for hire.

Though Grundy was an enemy of Green Lantern in the comics here he was more of a foe of Superman, as he was one of the few enemies who could pummel the man of steel.

Grundy despite being a brute, would still nevertheless manage to redeem himself in his final story which sees him not only develop an unlikely friendship with Hawkgirl, but also sacrifice himself to save the Justice League.

Grundy’s death is a somewhat touching moment as Hawkgirl comforts her former enemy in his last moments assuring him that he will finally be allowed to rest and gain his “reward”.

Wolverine/ Wolverine’s Revenge

Hamill voiced this famous Marvel superhero in this video game that was released as a tie in to X-Men 2.

The game not only depicted Wolverine’s origins, but also came up with its own original story that saw the clawed mutant go up against the likes of Sabretooth, Magneto and Lady Deathstrike.

I’d say the game was definitely above average. Not an all time classic but it had a reasonably engaging story and it was fun to slice up badguys as Wolverine.

I wouldn’t say Mark was the best Wolverine. Hugh Jackman’s performance as the character has to rank as one of the all time greatest on screen heroes, whilst the definitive voice for the character is probably Cathal J Todd from the 90’s animated series.

Still Hamill’s performance has the right gruff qualities for the character and its nice to see him play a different type of hero to Luke. Wolverine and Luke, though both heroes are almost polar opposites. One a young, noble, idealistic hero, the other an older, rough looking, angry anti hero.

One final thing to mention about Mark’s Wolverine is that he is the only one who has beaten Magneto without help. Pretty incredible when you consider the fact that Magneto always curb stomps Wolverine.

To be fair its to be expected as Magneto can control metal whilst Wolverine’s entire skeleton is coated in metal! Still as we saw in Days of Future Past (which is set before the metal was laced to Wolvies bones) Even without the adamantium skeleton, Magneto is still able to curb stomp Wolverine with virtually no effort at all!

Whilst he may not be as iconic, at least Hamill’s Wolverine isn’t always Magneto’s little bitch like the Hugh Jackman version.

Gargoyle/ Hulk Animated Series

Hamill voiced this villain in the short lived 90’s Hulk animated series. Gargoyle from the start of the show was presented as being more of a bumbling, oafish character in some respects and thus it wasn’t too surprising when he ended up becoming more of a comic relief in the shows second season.

Whilst not the most memorable villain I think Mark did what he could with the relatively  minor part and brought a lot of humour and personality to the character.

Christopher Blair/ Wing Commander

One of the most popular video game heroes of the 1990’s, Hamill voiced this character in all but the second instalment of the Wing Commander video game series as well as the short lived 90’s animated series. He also played him in live action cutscenes too.

Some critics have compared Blair to Luke Skywalker. Both are space adventurers and straight forward, noble heroes, but I feel that Blair was a more mature, experienced character as opposed to the whiny teenager Luke was.

Sadly Hamill would not be asked to reprise the role for the 1999 Wing Commander live action film where Blair was played by Freddie Prinze Jr, though he did have a voice over cameo. To be fair though the film wasn’t a patch on the games so Hamill will really always be the definitive Christopher Blair.

Skips/ Regular Show

One of Hamill’s most popular roles, Skips is an immortal Yeti with a mysterious backstory and powers. Though he often has a more depressing and dour persona he does still have a strong sense of humour.

Skips often serves as the exposition guy. He knows almost everything about the supernatural.

Regular Show has proven to be one of the most successful animated series of recent years. Running for 8 seasons of 261 episodes, ironically this Yeti is the character that Hamill has played more times than any other.

He is set to reprise he role in the upcoming Skips movie.

John Curtis/ Criminal Minds

The main antagonist of the 8th season of Criminal Mind’s. Curtis is a serial killer who is driven to lunacy by his own petty jealousy and failures.

By far one of the most dangerous and twisted villains in the entire series Curtis only appears in full in the two part season 8 finale.

Its undoubtedly one of Hamill’s best performances. The character isn’t just a retread of the Joker and Trickster. In some ways he is a much darker character, as he lacks the theatrical qualities those two villains had which made them somewhat likable. Curtis is a repulsive, vicious and petty character through and through.

Other Roles

Among Hamill’s other genre roles include the villainous Maximus in the 90’s Fantastic Four Animated series,  the Hannukah Zombie in Futurama and Captain America’s archenemy the Red Skull in The Superhero Squad Show.

Hamill also voiced the main antagonist Fire Lord Ozai in The Last Airbender franchise. Whilst this character proved to be one of Hamill’s most popular roles, sadly I have not seen this series so I couldn’t comment on it.

Hamill has also supplied voices for many video games too including as characters in the Kingdom of Hearts and Call of Duty series,  and as Detective Mosely, sidekick to Gabriel Knight (voiced by Tim Curry) in Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers.

In live action he has also guest starred on television series such as Chuck, Third Rock from the Sun, the remake of The Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV.

On stage meanwhile he has played roles as diverse as The Elephant Man and Mozart to great acclaim.

A truly versatile performer, Hamill has managed to earn a special place in genre stars both as one of its greatest heroes and villains.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Cult Actors 9 Famke Janssen

The true queen of evil, Famke Janssen is like a female Christopher Lee in that she more often than not tends to play the evil, alluring, dark sexy villain in genre and cult movies which also makes her the perfect choice for this edition of cult actors.

Janssen has always been one of my favourite actresses. She has an undeniable towering presence and this coupled with such a long career spanning film and television has allowed her to bring many exciting and colourful characters to life.

Kamala/ Star Trek The Next Generation

One of Janssen’s first ever roles. This character was a far more sympathetic individual than many of her later more famous parts.

Kamala is an empathic alien who is forced to marry a high ranking member of an alien species for political reasons. Along the way however she ends up falling in love with Jean Luc Picard and he her which somewhat complicates things.

This episode “The Perfect Mate” is essentially just a remake beat for beat of an original series episode called “Elaan of Troyius“. Both revolve around the captain of the enterprise having to escort a female alien who does not want to marry a member of a rival alien race, in order to prevent a war because she falls in love with the Captain. The Captain in both cases returns her feelings, though in both cases said aliens are said to have some kind of special supernatural power over men (not that either actress would need it!)

Of the two of the very similar stories “The Perfect Mate” is undoubtedly superior. I do enjoy “Elaan of Troyius” but it is one of the sillier TOS episodes. “The Perfect Mate” deals with the idea of a woman being forced into an arranged marriage in order to prevent a war in a much more nuanced and interesting way. The relationship between Kamala and Picard is a lot more touching the way she falls in love with him because of the kindness he shows her.

Janssen and Patrick Stewart have very good chemistry with each other and manage to make the relationship between Kamala and Picard, which happens in a relatively short space of time seem sincere and genuine. The two actors would later be reunited in the X-Men film series as Professor X and Jean Grey, two characters who couldn’t have a more different relationship. Indeed the idea of Jean and Professor X being in love would seem completely inappropriate, which is a testament to what good actors they both are that you don’t even think of them as the same people in this episode.

Overall a good start to Famke’s career and a strong performance particularly for an actress who had really had so little experience at this point. This was in fact her second acting role

Xenia Onatopp/ Goldeneye

Her breakthrough role. Xenia is arguably the most famous Bond villainess of all time.

She’s really the ultimate fetishized female character. She murders her victims by crushing them to death with her thighs whilst sleeping with them.

In many ways she kind of reminds me of the classic death by snu snu joke in Futuruma.

Whilst it might sound like an incredibly sexy way to die on paper, it would probably be one of the most agonising deaths known to man, having pressure put on your pelvis until you literally snapped in half like a twig.

Xenia I think was really the last iconic hench villain in the James Bond series. In the earlier films the hench villains like Jaws, Nick Nack, Tee Hee, and Odd Job were always so over the top. In some cases they even managed to overshadow the main villain such as Jaws who is arguably far more remembered than either Stromberg or Drax the two villains he worked for.

Similarly I’d say Xenia is the villain that people remember more than even Sean Bean’s 006.

The character of Xenia is utterly ridiculous but again I think that was part of the charm of the earlier Bond villains in general with their scarred faces, metal claw hands, and penchant for feeding people big hungry fish. Sadly I think this is something that is missing from the later villains who are a bit dull in comparison.

Whilst Xenia put Famke on the map it did typecast her as the sexy villain and though she did try and break free from it with different roles, ultimately as we will see many of her later roles were often in a similar vein to Xenia.

Evelyn Stockard Price/ The Darkness / The House on Haunted Hill

Another villainous character. Price is the scheming wife of an amusement park Mogul named Steven Price, whom she and her lover Donald Blackburn (who she later turns on and kills) plan to murder in order to gain access to all of his wealth.

She ends up being consumed by the dark power of the house however simply known as the Darkness, which takes her form afterwards allowing Janssen to play both villains.

Though the film has often been derided, I personally thought it was a great remake as it did at least try to do something new and it had a very strong cast.

Janssen is excellent as Price as she really does give the character no redeeming features whatsoever. She’s violent, treacherous, spoiled, selfish and a chronic backstabber.

I also like her and her husband Steven’s relationship with each other the way that there is absolutely no affection between them. Even before it becomes apparent that she plans to betray him its obvious that they can’t stand each other. He obviously only married her to boost his ego whilst she obviously only married him for his wealth.

Steven though not as quite as monstrously evil as his wife is still a repugnant character too and thus they both deserve each other. Though having said that as wicked as they are even they don’t deserve the horrible fate that befalls them, where their souls are condemned to an eternity of torture at the hands of the spirits of the patients in the house.

Spooky stuff, but its somewhat ironic that these two people who had the most poisonous marriage will now be suffering together forever.

Of course in the sequel after the power in the house is destroyed both of their souls are freed, though it probably won’t make a difference as they’ll end up going to hell anyway.

Overall Price is great performance from Janssen who manages to create a wonderfully vicious femme fatale.

Jean Grey (Phoenix)/ X-Men Film Series

Probably her most famous role. Famke played this superheroine/villainess in 5 films.

She was really the perfect choice for the character in every respect. Physically she is a large statuesque beauty, but the character of Jean also needs to have a certain gravitas as she is definitely one of the more tragic Marvel characters.

Jean really has the biggest role in the second and third film in the series. In the first movie whilst she isn’t wasted, its really more Rogue and Wolverine’s film.

The second movie meanwhile sees her memorably sacrifice herself to save the rest of the team. I always got a bit of a Wrath of Khan, Spock sacrificing himself vibe from Jean Grey’s death at the end of X-Men 2. There’s even a closing monologue from the deceased character at the end of each film over a shot of their resting place. Lets not forget that Bryan Singer who directed the film is a big Trekkie so I think he may have had Wrath of Khan in mind when making the film.

Jean’s death is very well acted on Janssen’s part, but some have criticised it for the fact that Grey seemingly didn’t need to leave the plane in the first place!

Some fans however have argued that this was the beginning of the Phoenix persona taking over her personality and that it forced her to leave so that Jean could effectively die and the Phoenix could rise in her place. This would tie into how powerful Jean was becoming at the end of X-Men 2.

X-Men 3 often gets a hard time, but I thought it was a good film. It had some flaws yes, namely how Cyclops is killed off too quickly. To be fair though X-Men 2 misused his character as well. Also James Marsden it must be remembered was unavailable for most of X-Men 3’s filming.

I think  that James Marsden and Famke Janssen didn’t really have any chemistry with each other which was obviously a problem when they were meant to be this big great romance. The fact that her chemistry with Hugh Jackman was so much better obviously meant that Wolverine would be put at the forefront ahead of Scott.

Famke is the best thing about X-Men 3 even though she has very little screen time. She is perfect at switching between the tormented and guilt stricken Jean and the savage, animalistic Phoenix. The scene where she literally tears her friend, father figure and mentor Professor X to bits is both shocking and frightening.

In the comics the Phoneix was a powerful alien entity, but in the films it is revised to just being a split personality of Jean. Whilst some fans were understandbly upset at this big change from the comics, ultimately I don’t think the all powerful alien would have gelled with the films universe at that point as it did in the comics.

Overall I think X-Men 3 did a good job of condensing the Phoneix story arc and making it fit the more down to earth universe of the film series and Janssen was excellent at playing a woman possessed and tormented by a great evil.

The only gripe I have with it is that Janssen wasn’t given enough time to explore both sides of Jean’s personality, but she did well with the screen time she was given.

Its ironic in a way that on the one hand Jean is the most heroic part she has ever played, whilst the Pheonix is by far and away the most destructive villain she has ever played.

Though Jean is killed at the end of X-Men 3, Janssen would go on to play the role two more times. First as a hallucination in The Wolverine and finally in a cameo appearance in X-Men Days of Future Past which saw her and Scott resurrected via a change in time. To many fans and critics alike this helped rectify the terrible way their romance ended in X-Men 3.

Janssen expressed interest in reprising her role for the next X-Men film, but was passed over in favour of the much younger Sophie Turner. Janssen said that she felt it was Hollywood sexism that she had been replaced by a much younger actress though she wished Turner luck in the part.

Personally I don’t see this as being an example of sexism as the entire cast has been replaced by much younger actors for X-Men Apocalypse. Also on top of that Days of Future Past did feature her alongside Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. The only reason she wasn’t in it as much was because her character had been killed off and therefore couldn’t appear until the end, which was the same for Scott too.

Having said that though I would like to see one last film with the original cast and I must confess I thought that is what they were going for when they rebooted it at the end of X-Men Days of Future Past. Who knows maybe we’ll get a final film with the original cast some day.

Still with 5 films under her belt which covers everything from Jeans death to the Phoenix saga to the love triangle between her, Scott and Logan, in my opinion she’s already had a great run in the role and to me will always be the definitive Jean.

Miss Elizabeth Burke/ The Faculty

A more minor character Miss Burke is a kind hearted and supportive teacher of one of the main protagonists Zeke.

Sadly however she is later infected by the aliens and becomes a hideous mutated monster that tries to eat him alive. In the final confrontation with her, Zeke ends up ripping Burke’s head clean from her shoulders, though it then sprouts tentacles and walks away.

Despite this however at the end of the film after the aliens are defeated Burke ends up going back to normal. Famke survives the film which is a nice change considering she normally you know gets stabbed to death, eaten by an ancient evil or killed by criminals. Though its ironic that in one of the films where she gets off lightly she still gets decapitated.

I think the poor effects of this sequence actually add to it as it helps to reinforce the naturally cartooish element of this scene.

Trillian St James/ Deep Rising

A rare heroic role, though even then she is more of an anti hero. Trillian is a cunning and wiley thief who ends up having to help the main protagonist when hideous alien monsters begin to attack the ship and eat its passengers.

Janssen clearly has a lot of fun with the character who is more of a lovable rogue than anything else.

The ending of the movie sets things up for a sequel that sadly never happened due to the negative reaction to the first film, though it has since gone on to be regarded as a cult classic.

Despite the lukewarm reception to the movie at the time I think that Deep Rising helped Famke gain a reputation for appearing in somewhat more offbeat, indie films.

Rachel Wright/ I Spy

Famke Janssen played the main villain in this remake of the classic cult series of the same name.

Sadly the movie was an all around flop and really Janssen is practically the only thing worth watching in the film.

Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy have a reasonably entertaining chemistry with one another. They both have a talent for creating memorable double acts, but sadly I’ve seen them both create more memorable duo’s with other actors like Dan Akroyd and Jackie Chan.

Famke is really the stand out in this film as she manages to create an unbelievably sexy yet quite menacing villain at the same time.

The main character Alex played by Owen Wilson is desperately in love with her and she often uses this against him, yet at the same time she is also a brutal and sadistic villain who enjoys hurting him physically too.

We see this in the scene where she tortures him and nearly castrates him! Janssen underplays the torture scene which is more sinister. She doesn’t burst into fits of laughter, but there is a perverse little smile on her face when she is stabbing a knife into his leg and twisting it.

You get the impression that she likes the fact that he has feelings for her simply because its yet another way she can torture him. Even though Alex is a somewhat bland leading man, Rachel’s treatment of him helps to add a real tragic element to the character.

Here is the person he loves more than anything, who he has pined for for years beating him to a bloody pulp, stabbing him and trying to slice off his penis and she’s loving it! And she is openly mocking him for being so foolish as to have ever trusted and cared about her. You can’t help but feel a bit bad for the guy.

Having said that though I felt Wilson’s character came across as being a bit pathetic when he was willing to believe Rachel when she claimed to be a triple agent right after she almost tortured him to death. I mean really, I understand that Famke Janssen is hard to resist, but her lies wouldn’t have fooled Sir Gullable of Believe’s Anything Town.

Plus if she had kicked me in the balls as many times as she does Alex I might be put off her a bit. She kicks him in the nuts about 5 times in the film.

Overall with Rachel, Famke created a sadistic, manipulative, cold and very effective villain. Its just a shame she wasn’t in a better film against more interesting heroes.

Muriel/ Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters

My favourite performance of hers. Muriel is the main antagonist in the cult classic Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters.

Hansel and Gretel was panned by mainstream critics when it was first released (though it was still a box office success) but it has quickly earned a reputation as a cult classic and there is even a sequel as well as a tv series spin off planned.

Its a fantastic idea of Hansel and Gretel being so traumatised by their experiences that they end up as Witch Hunters and Janssen’s Grand High Witch is the perfect villain for the two.

She is absolute pure evil through and through. She is the queen of the witches who was technically responsible for the slow and painful death’s of both of Hansel and Gretel’s parents (she later murders Hansel’s one true love whom she guts like a fish too). She also plans on using Gretel’s heart to create a spell that will make her and her army of witches utterly unkillable. Plus she eats children!

She is a total monster and what’s interesting is that unlike say Rachel she is a completely sexless villain. In her human form she still looks fabulous because she is Famke Janssen, but still she never uses her looks or sexuality at any point, nor does she express any interest in anything but slaughtering humanity. Also her true witch form is genuinely horrific too.

She makes her entrance into the film by using her magic to rip a guy apart using branches, and torture another guy by taking control of him and then forcing him to eat maggots and bugs before he literally explodes into a pile of blood.

She is the ultimate dark Queen and again I think you can see how she is like a female Christopher Lee with this role. This is like the female version of the kind of character he would have played when he was younger. I don’t think there are many people who can play those types of characters as effectively as you need to have a real commanding presence. You need to be someone who just looks powerful and dangerous the second you step on screen. I think Lee and Janssen both benefited from being so tall and striking looking and having such strong voices too.

Muriel’s death scene is even like something from a Hammer Horror in terms of how over the top it is. Its a Rasputin like death the way the heroes shoot her about 5 times, stab her, beat her to a bloody pulp, hang her from the ceiling and she keeps coming back. Even when she is being hung she reaches out and starts choking Hansel and nearly kills him. They finally manage to put her down for good by taking her head off with a shovel!

Overall I’d say that Muriel is one of my favourite supernatural villains and monster rulers. She literally has no redeeming features even to her fellow witches (at one point when she suspects there is danger she sends them ahead and isn’t even bothered when they are shredded by one of Hansel’s traps.) Janssen suitably plays the role with absolute relish and simply dominates any scene she is in.

Lenore Mills/ Taken trilogy

A very unusual part for Janssen to play. Lenore isn’t just a non villainous role, she is a complete helpless damsel in distress who spends most of the second film being captured, brutalized and tortured by the villains before being killed off in the third film.

A part of me wonders if she took this role of the vulnerable, victimized loving mother to maybe escape always being seen as the villain. If so it didn’t work as literally the first role she played after Lenore in Taken 2 was Muriel who is the polar opposite to Lenore in almost every single respect.

It does feel odd at first seeing Janssen be so helpless simply because of the characters she has played in the past, but she manages to blend in to the role fine and whilst her typecasting problem may not have been helped by this part at the very least I think she was able to show how versatile she is as an actress by playing a character who could not be more different to the types of roles she is most famous for.

Olivia Godfrey/ Hemlock Grove

One of her most popular recent roles, Olivia is the scheming, matriarch of the Godfrey family. She is a Vampire like creature called an Upyr and generally serves as the main villain overall of the series.

She does have some redeeming qualities and even attempts in the second season to try and redeem herself, but ultimately she always fails at any attempt to better herself and reverts to being a brutal, manipulative monster that enjoys literally ripping people’s hearts out.

The character is the type that Janssen could play in her sleep at this point, the tall, dark alluring, incredibly vicious villain, but Janssen is able to flesh her out somewhat in the second series when we see her try and control her demonic urges before a betrayal leads to her VERY bloody comeback.

The only thing I felt was a little off about her performance was her English accent. Normally the American accent she uses for her other films which is not her own is really good, but sadly her English accent was weaker, though thankfully she began to ditch it in later episodes of the series.

Other roles

Janssen also had a recurring role on Nip/Tuck as the antagonistic, transexual character Ava Moore. She played this character throughout the shows second and sixth season.

Sadly I haven’t seen the series so I can’t comment on it in any great detail but Janssen’s performance was very acclaimed.

Other non genre films she has appeared in include Father’s and Sons opposite Jeff Goldblum (which was her debut), The Gingerbread Man, Monument Ave, Rounders, The Wackness and RPM.

Whilst she has had a long and very varied career across many different genres and mediums, ultimately she will always be one of sci fi and fantasy’s finest leading lady’s and one of its most memorable villains.

Cult Actors 7 John Hurt

Whether you know him as Mr Ollivander in the Harry Potter films, the War Doctor from Doctor Who, the ill fated Kane from the Alien film series, or even as the Horned King from the Black Cauldron. There’s a good chance that John Hurt will have been involved in a franchise you loved growing up.

The actor has amassed a truly staggering body of work over a career spanning 6 decades. Despite this I’d say that overall his biggest success has been in genre films and television series, which makes him a perfect candidate for this weeks cult actors.

John Hurt I think is easily one of Britain’s most versatile actors. He has managed to avoid being type cast. Unlike other great actors such as Christopher Lee who mostly played villains. Hurt has played just about every character you can think of. He’s never at any point in his career been pigeon holed into any one type of role.

He’s been the vilest villains from Caligula, to the Horned King to Chancellor Sutler, to General Wounderwort.

Yet he has also been the persecuted unfortunate victim just as much from Joseph Merrick, to Kane, to Quentin Crisp, to Mr Olivander. He has also been the central heroic figure too such as Winston Smith in 1984, Aragorn in the animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings, The War Doctor in the Day of the Doctor, and Hazel in the animated classic Watership Down.

Finally he has also played the wise old mentor too such as Kilgarrah the Great Dragon, Trevor Bruttenholm in the Hellboy film series and Harold Oxley in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

The only thing his characters often have in common is that they often die, or if not die have something horrible happen to them like get tortured, severely beaten, crippled etc.

Even Sean Bean is a total lightweight compared to John Hurt when it comes to dying.

He is definitely one of my favourite actors and I am going to enjoy exploring his career in this article.

Early Career

During the 60’s and the early 70’s Hurt was primarily a stage and television actor. He had various roles in tv series such as the Sweeney, Z-Cars and ITV Play of the Week.

He did enjoy some acclaim during this period of his career. During the 60’s the Beatles were massive fans of John Hurt, having seen him perform on stage. The actor for a short while became good friends with the band.

One of Hurt’s first major film roles was as the villain Richard Rich in A Man for All Seasons in 1966. The cast also included such big names as Orson Wells and Vanessa Redgrave. It would not be until 1975 that his career would take off when he appeared as Quentin Crisp in the ITV biopic of his life The Naked Civil Servant.

Quentin Crisp/ The Naked Civil Servant

Now regarded as a tv classic. This biographical film based on the book of the same name  by the flamboyant, openly gay cross dresser Quentin Crisp was a truly ground breaking piece of television.

Homosexuality had been legalised in the UK a mere 7 years earlier, but even in spite of this breakthrough there was still widespread homophobia across the UK.

To even contemplate making a drama on mainstream television that focused on a gay man would have been a huge deal. The Naked Civil Servant however did more than that.

It helped to break down many stereotypes. Rather than be portrayed as a degenerate or a silly camp buffoon, as homosexual characters often were sadly in the entertainment industry in those days. Crisp is shown to be a very strong, charming, likable character who constantly has to battle ugly prejudice, but never lets the bullies and the thugs change who he is.

In the scene below even after he is savagely attacked by thugs, he still manages to crack a funny joke. “I seem to have annoyed you gentlemen in some way” he says whilst dripping in his own blood.

 

Not many programmes from that time on mainstream British television would have tackled a subject like homophobia. And to do so in such a way where we see how completely ordinary people are capable of the most extreme prejudice too was also very daring.

We don’t just simply see how the state punishes Crisp, or even the homophobic thugs on the street. The taxi driver who seems like just an ordinary person refuses to drive him to safety and happily hands him over to the thugs, who for all he knew could have beaten him to death.

The drama was in many ways decades ahead of its time and was really solely responsible for Hurt becoming a household name in the UK.

Hurt was absolutely sensational as Crisp. He really captures the flamboyance, the dry, self deprecating, naughty humour, and the charisma of Crisp superbly.

I think he really excels at showing us the inner torment and the strength of Crisp too. There are moments when we see Crisp clearly miserable and even somewhat frightened from all that he endures, but he always manages to overcome it and make the audience laugh again. With Crisp, Hurt gives us not only a very realistic portrayal of a man struggling to belong in a society that won’t accept him for his sexuality but also a very mature and sympathetic one too.

The real life Quentin Crisp was very pleased with this performance and even came to refer to John Hurt as “his representative on earth!”. Hurt would later return to the role of Crisp over 30 years later in 2009 in Quentin Crisp An English Man in New York which covered his later years.

This drama was actually very good. I was worried that it wouldn’t be a worthy successor to the original, but Hurt managed to slip into the character after 30 years like he’d never been away.

Overall the Naked Civil Servant is certainly deserving of its reputation as a tv classic and it not only helped to launch John Hurt into the spotlight, but it also gave him a reputation for playing complex, edgy characters.

Tom/The Ghoul

John Hurt starred in this relatively obscure horror film in 1975 alongside another favourite of mine Peter Cushing. Of the two of them Peter Cushing has the meatier role as the tormented widower, who keeps his demonic flesh eating son locked up in the attic.Still Hurts’s character is important to the story too. This was actually the first place I ever saw Hurt.

His character Tom is a pervert, a low life, a thief, a rapist, a sadist, a racist and a murderer. He’s actually the most evil character in the movie far more so than even the titular Ghoul.

In many ways this villainous part can be seen as a rehearsal for his role as Caligula the next year. He even has the same horrible little cackle Caligula has when he sends a man plummeting to his death off a cliff.

The funny thing about Tom is that even though he is utterly deplorable, he is also a complete moron. He practically exposes the existence of the ghoul to the authorities through his own stupidity. At one point Cushing’s character nearly hits him across the face in frustration.

The character is still menacing however. In his final moments he tries to rape the main female protagonist after having spent the last ten minutes terrorising her. Ironically the flesh eating Ghoul seems heroic when it shows up and stabs him to death.

The Ghoul is a surprisingly brutal film, more so than many other British horror movies of its type. It was clearly meant to be made in the style of the Hammer movies, but at times it feels a little bit grittier. The only main character who survives is driven completely and utterly insane from what she sees. The rest of the cast are either stabbed to death, eaten or even kill themselves!

Hurt’s character I think plays a key part in making this film somewhat darker. In a Hammer film he would probably just be a generic lackey of Cushing’s character, but in this film we are taken deep into his twisted personality.

Caligula/I Claudius

By far and away my favourite performance of Hurt’s. This was the role that made me a fan. Prior to this I liked John Hurt but it was only after seeing him as Caligula that I started to track everything he had ever done down.

The 1976 BBC adaptation of Robert Graves novel, I Claudius featured an all star cast. Brian Blessed as the mighty Augustus, Sian Philips as the scheming Livia, Christopher Biggins as the demented Nero and Derek Jacobi as Claudius himself.

Whilst all of the cast give stellar performances I think its really John Hurt that steals the show. The Caligula in this series was even more sensationalised than the version in Graves novel. Pretty much every version of Caligula on film and television has tended to exaggerate his depravity and crimes, but Hurt’s version is still probably the most wild.

Hurt’s Caligula murders his own father as a child. He kills him by slowly poisoning him which weakens his heart, then he steals a talisman that his father believes will protect him from Demonic spirits. His father now terrified of Demons is frightened to death by Caligula who places numerous horrific things in his bedroom to make him think evil spirits are coming after him. These include a baby’s corpse that Caligula murdered, and whose guts he tore out after having left it’s body to rot for days, the remains of several animals, and the head of a servant with a child’s severed hand stuck in its mouth.

Later as a man Caligula goes on to sleep with all three of his sisters, and its implied his great grandmother Livia. Later as Livia lies dying and gasping for air Caligula tortures her by taunting her that she will not be made into a goddess after she dies after he promised (which is the only way she can avoid going to hell after her sins in life). He also gropes her and forces himself on her as she is gasping for air and sobbing. What makes it even more disturbing is the cold and icey way Hurt plays it. In contrast to the later hysterical over the top psychotic performances, here he plays it in a calm almost detached way, as though his own Great Grandmother’s mental and physical suffering doesn’t even register.

I think this scene lets us know just how truly evil Caligula is. Up until this point Livia has been the main villain of the series. She is a scheming, manipulative murderer who is two steps ahead of everyone, even Augustus. Yet here she is helpless, crying, gasping for air and being sexually assaulted by Caligula.

The thing about Livia’s cruelty was it was never senseless. She only ever murdered for what she thought was the greater good. To prevent the empire from descending into war, where as Caligula has no reason to do what he does here, other than simply because he gets off on hurting an old dying woman.

Caligula later along with the Emperor Tiberius orders the murder of the treacherous Sejanus played by Patrick Stewart, as well as all of his friends and family. Hundreds of innocent people are butchered, including Sejanus’s two young children one of whom is raped first.

Much like with Livia we actually end up feeling sorry for Sejanus despite the fact that he too was a ruthless, power hungry sociopath that killed and tortured innocent people to get what he wants. In the end even he is horrified at what Caligula and Tiberius carry out!

Caligula later murders Tiberius and becomes the new emperor. I’ve always thought Tiberius’s death had a certain black comedy to it. Caligula thinks Tiberius is finally dead and announces to the world that he is the new emperor, only to be humiliated when a young slave announces that he is still alive. I love the way that Caligula has Tiberius murdered more to save face than anything else. Though its also no doubt because he can’t be bothered waiting any more having come so close. I also love the way the other senators there basically want Tiberius out of the way too. After all they send Caligula and his right hand man, the ruthless Macro played by John Rhys Davies to check and see if he is still alive. They must have known it wouldn’t have ended well for him.

Of course as we know despite everyone’s high hopes things do NOT get better under Caligula’s rule.

Not long after being crowned emperor Caligula goes completely and utterly insane. He wasn’t insane before hand. Despite sleeping with his sisters, molesting and torturing his Grandmother, murdering his father and his stepfather, Caligula was completely in control of his actions up until this point.

I preferred this interpretation as it made Caligula into a more frightening villain that he wasn’t simply mentally ill. He was always just a cruel person at his core. It also I feel allowed John Hurt a chance to really develop his character. The cold, detached Caligula who enjoys hurting Livia in his first episode is worlds away from the crazed, cackling lunatic Caligula in the later episodes of the series.

Caligula is driven insane by a constant noise in his head that he describes as a galloping. The scene where has a complete break down is one of the best bits of acting in Hurt’s entire career. He is captivating as he shows Caligula become more unstable by the second the louder the noise in his head gets. He even manages to elicit some sympathy for Caligula, in spite of everything he has done, as we see him look so helpless and in such distress, as the pain gets worse until he just collapses screaming on the floor.

Hurt’s Caligula is frightening, yet tragic at the same time as we see him just become a shell of his former self.

After he awakens Caligula comes to believe that he is a god. In fact that he is the king of the Gods, Zeus! He then marries his favourite Sister Drusilla and impregnates her.

From here on things just get completely wild. Hurt as Caligula is comparable as a performance to Mark Hamill as the Joker. In both cases the villain is just so insane you have no idea what’s going to happen next.

Naturally there are moments with Hurt’s Caligula that are horrifying such as when he murders a small child for coughing. He has his head sliced off and then carried around by Macro joking “I’ve cured his cough”.

At the same time there are other moments where his madness actually becomes a source of comedy such as when he makes his horse a senator.

Even more hysterical is the famous dance scene. Here Caligula randomly demands that Claudius and several other men arrive at the palace and see him. They are kept waiting for hours and are terrified at what Caligula intends for them, assuming he has called them up to kill them. Instead however well see for yourself.

Caligula’s madness though lending itself to some comical moments always leaves the viewer on edge, as you never know what way his mood is going to turn. He can be jokey one minute and then just snap and have his closest friend killed the next. Its great watching his numerous senators try and find ways of appeasing him, only to fail miserably as there is no way to appease a psychopath.

The Caligula in this scene as you can see is worlds away from the Caligula who tormented a dying Livia. Both are just as evil and twisted as one another, but one is very calm, manipulative, knows exactly what he is doing, knows how to play people’s emotions, how to hurt them in the worst way possible. The other is like a demented child throwing his toys out of the pram, stamping his foot, whimpering, crying and killing on a whim. Its a truly remarkable character development in just 4 episodes.

One of the funniest examples of one of Caligula’s lackey’s trying to appease him and it backfiring is when a particularly sychophantic senator attempts to kiss Caligula’s ass by saying when Caligula is ill, that he would gladly give his life to the gods to spare Caligula’s. When Caligula gets better however he makes him carry out his debt to the gods and forces him to kill himself!

John Hurt named that scene as his own personal favourite from I Claudius.

The most sensational and horrific moment however is when Caligula murders his own sister and eats their child!

Caligula believing he is Zeus, decides to consume his own child from his sisters stomach. Just as Zeus did with his daughter Athena whom he pulled from his wife Mettis’s stomach and swallowed. Athena later sprang from Zeus’s head as a warrior woman.

Caligula by this point is so insane he actually believes that his child will spring from his head! He chains Drusilla up and slices her gut open with a knife and devours the fetus.

We don’t actually see him slice Drusilla open. It cuts off just as he pulls the knife on her and we hear her screaming in pain. We then see Caligula emerge with blood and flesh dripping from his mouth and a look of horror on his face. I love the way Hurt plays this scene. He almost gives Caligula a look of clarity as he leaves the room. During that one moment Caligula went so far, even he realises what he has done. It was almost enough to snap him back to sanity even just for a few seconds.

Apparently a scene showing Caligula slicing Drusilla’s guts open was filmed but cut at the last minute.

One of the most fascinating things about Hurt’s Caligula are his interactions with his uncle Claudius. At certain points Caligula seems to enjoy tormenting Claudius most of all. He forces him to marry Messalina. At first Caligula claims its because he thinks it would be funny to force a “silly old crippled fool” like Claudius to marry a young beautiful woman, but it seemingly backfires as Claudius and Messalina actually do fall in love. Later after Caligula’s death however it is revealed that Messalina is a lying, vindictive bitch who plans to overthrow Claudius and cheats on him hundreds of times and makes a fool of him. I often wondered if Caligula was aware that Messalina was so twisted and set her and the kind hearted but somewhat naive Claudius up as a result?

Whatever the case Messalina is Caligula’s last horrible little trick on poor old Claudius.

In spite of his vile treatment of Claudius however, at other times Caligula seems to be paradoxically particularly fond of him. He often keeps him around for company more than anyone else, invites him to live in his palace, and at various points considers him another living god, Vulcan!

At one point Caligula is shown to reveal a more vulnerable side to Claudius where he confesses that he fears he will die hated by his own people. This fabulously demonstrates just how insane he is. He regularly murders them en mass for kicks, yet its only just occurring to him now that his people might not like him? He also asks Claudius if he thinks he is going mad which though a hilarious thing for Caligula of all people to ask.

However again this shows how in spite of his vile behaviour towards Claudius he has a certain degree of trust in him, as he is willing to share his doubts about being a god with him!

Claudius is often able to talk Caligula out of killing both himself and other people, often by playing on his vanity. Though Caligula is a lunatic, Claudius knows him better than anyone else and thus he is often the only person who is able to talk his way out of being killed. Even then though there are moments when even Claudius is only saved from being butchered by Caligula by sheer luck, such as when Caligula tosses him into a river and he barely survives drowning. At one point Caligula was going to murder Claudius for simply having more hair than he did, but spares him when Claudius says something nice about him being a god.

John Hurt and Derek Jacobi play off of each other brilliantly. Apparently the two had tremendous fun working together. So much so that Jacobi actually selected a Caligula/Claudius moment as his favourite from the series. Jacobi says that it was always very hard for the both of them not laugh when acting out some of Caligula’s more intense moments. Personally I’m amazed anyone was able to keep a straight face during the dance scene.

After a reign of terror in which hundreds more innocent people are butchered Caligula is finally killed by his own guards. His guards murder him simply for their own safety. No one is safe under Caligula’s rule. At the same time however many of Caligula’s assassins do still take pleasure in murdering him. One of them’s wife was driven to suicide by Caligula who forced her to regularly take part in his obscene parties where she was forced to sleep with many men against her will. Another was regularly humiliated by Caligula after he cried whilst being forced to torture someone on Caligula’s orders. It makes you wonder what horrors Caligula wanted him to inflict on the prisoner if even his own torturer cried!

After his death Caligula does appear in the final episode of the series as a hallucination of Claudius, or possibly a ghost alongside hallucination’s, or ghosts of other emperors such as Augustus and Tiberius. Caligula tells Claudius that he was genuinely shocked that he wasn’t a god when he died.

Uncle Claudius it turns out I wasn’t the messiah after all. You could have knocked me over with a feather when they told me.

I always loved the way that’s all he had to say for the hundreds of innocent people he killed under the mistaken belief that he was a god. Including his own sister/wife/mother of his unborn child that he ate!

I Claudius was a massive success all over the world. John Hurt has credited the series with launching his career in America.

To this day the image we have of Caligula stems from Hurt’s portrayal. In real life whilst many historians do believe that Caligula was a schizophrenic there is actually very little evidence that he slept with his sisters. He also most certainly did not murder Drusilla or eat his child.

In popular culture we always hear that Caligula eats his own son. In the Red Dwarf episode Meltdown, Lister tells this to the Cat as though its a historical fact but its not. It stems entirely from Hurt’s portrayal. Even in Robert Graves original novel Caligula is only speculated to have killed Drusilla by Claudius. The whole eating the fetus from the baby thing is entirely the creation of this miniseries.

Hurt’s performance as Caligula is like Bela Lugosi’s or Christopher Lee’s as Dracula. Its the one that there are elements of in all who come after.

Hurt’s Caligula has also gone on to influence other similar crazy villains in popular culture. Emperor Cartagia from Babylon 5 was directly inspired by Hurt’s version of Caligula according to the creator and writer of the series Joseph Michael Stracinzski.

The Master in the new Doctor Who meanwhile was based off of Hurt’s Caligula. Russell T Davies who reintroduced the Master, was a big fan of I Claudius, having cited it along with the original Doctor Who series as being the two series that made him interested in working in television in the first place.

In the new Doctor Who, the Master is revealed to have been driven mad by a constant drumming in his head exactly like Hurt’s version of Caligula. He also later becomes the emperor of earth and is shown to rule like Hurt’s Caligula. Simm even based aspects of his performance on Hurt’s too.

Think of the Simm Master as being an intergalactic version of Hurt’s Caligula.

Derek Jacobi himself was cast as the fist incarnation of the Master in New Who as an homage to I Claudius. Of course the great irony is that many years later John Hurt would be cast as the Doctor. Thus Doctor Who reversed their roles in I Claudius. Here Derek Jacobi plays the unpredictable, vicious psychopath, driven mad by drums in his head, whilst Hurt plays the misunderstood heroic character. Though Hurt’s Doctor and Jacobi’s Master never met they were both the versions of those characters who fought in the time war.

Caligula and Claudius have certainly changed over the years.

Caligula is definitely one of Hurt’s most iconic roles and for me it remains his greatest performance. I tend to think of him as Caligula more than any of the other characters he has played over the years. Whenever anyone mentions John Hurt, its the evil baby eating psychopath I picture rather than the tormented, disfigured intellectual.

Kane/Alien

Possibly Hurt’s most famous role. Ironically Kane is a minor character who gets killed off relatively early into the film, but its how he gets killed off that has secured him a place in cinema history.

Kane is attacked by an alien parasite which lays an egg down his throat. Later whilst he is eating his breakfast the egg hatches and the alien bursts violently out of his chest.

Apparently during the making of this scene the director Ridley Scott didn’t let anyone else know that there would be an alien prop bursting its way out of Hurt’s chest. Thus all of the actors reactions to the alien are genuine!

Its not hard to see why this scene entered into popular culture. I have always said that the first Alien was the best entry in the series simply because of how strong its story is. If you were an actor you’d b happy with any role in Alien. They are all memorable due to their death scenes. Its not like that in the sequels, where a lot of characters are just red shirts who get sliced to bits.

In this movie every death is drawn out which makes them linger in the viewers minds for longer afterwards. Whether that’s the alien bursting out of John Hurt’s chest, the Alien slowly lowering itself behind Harry Dean Stanton, or the Alien sneaking up on Tom Skerritt in the vents. All of these sequences have entered into popular culture.

Aside from his iconic death scene. I think that Kane may have also perhaps helped to prevent John Hurt from being typecast, as Kane is a much more quiet, reserved character.

Prior to Kane Hurt had been known mostly for playing crazy villains like Caligula and Tom, or flamboyant characters like Quentin Crisp. Kane I think showed people that he could play more normal, straight roles just as well.

The makers of Alien have said however that they don’t think Alien had any real impact on Hurt’s career at all.

Still it remains one of his most iconic parts and to this day Hurt says he has people come up to him and ask him to act it out.

Hurt would go on to parody his death in the Mel Brooks comedy Spaceballs.

Its nice to see that he fully embraced the cult following the movie, and his character in particular, gained over the years.

Winston Smith/1984

From a tyrannical ruler as Caligula, to the victim of an oppressive regime as Winston Smith. This movie released in 1984 itself, is arguably the definitive adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel.

At times its a little bit slow. I’m not sure that 1984 translates that well onto film. Parts of it are just the protagonist sitting on his own with his thoughts. That’s fine in a novel, but on the screen it just leads to long scenes of John Hurt sitting in his room writing.

Still Hurt manages to carry the film none the less with his obvious screen presence. The role of Winston Smith really needs an actor with gravitas like Hurt or Peter Cushing who played him in the 1950’s tv adaptation.

Hurt gives a very thoughtful, sombre and reserved performance that is truly worlds away from the hysterical cackling of Caligula. He is the perfect Winston as he makes him seem not only quiet and intelligent, but also somewhat vulnerable and sensitive too particularly in his relationship with Julia. This helps to make it all the more terrifying when he is captured at the end. That’s the key I think to getting someone right for Smith is that you need someone who can seem very thoughtful and intelligent, yet at the same time somewhat timid and sensitive, so that it is believable when he fails to resist Big Brother’s cruelty at the end of the story.

By far and away the greatest moments in the movie are the torture scenes where we see Winston’s humanity slowly get crushed out of him piece by piece. Credit must also go to Richard Burton who plays Smith’s torturer O’Brien. Burton is absolutely excellent. He gives the character a cold and steely demeanour, which contrasts superbly with Hurt’s emotional, tortured hero.

Whilst there have been many great actors who have played Winston Smith over the years, Peter Cushing, David Niven and Patrick Troughton. Hurt ultimately has to be the definitive Winston for me. I don’t really think anyone else captured the various different layers of the character quite as well as Hurt. From Smith’s loneliness before he finds Julia in a corrupt society, that only he can see for what it truly is. To his more vulnerable side when he is with her, to the sheer terror that grips him when he is finally broken in room 101, Hurt excels completely and gives a very moving and powerful performance all around.

John Merrick/ The Elephant Man

Hurts most famous role, I wasn’t sure on whether to include this as its obviously not a genre role and its not a really a cult film either. Still I don’t think you can really mention John Hurts career without commenting on this classic film, so I’m making an exception here.

The Elephant Man released in 1980 tells the story of Joseph Merrick (renamed John Merrick for the film) A kind hearted, intelligent, sophisticated man who was born with an unfortunate deformity.

The film charts Merricks life from when he first started living at the London Hospital right until his untimely death. The movie despite its reputation does have its uplifting moments, as we see John finally make friends after a life time of cruelty, and his joy at finally being accepted somewhere. Of course there are still plenty of moments that will break your heart.

Worst of all is when he is attacked by a group of people in who are led to the hospital by Jim the porter. They torment and demean him, at one point even forcing him and a woman there to kiss against their will. By far and away the most vile character in the film however is Mr Bytes played by Freddie Jones, the Circus Ringmaster who originally owns Merrick and later captures him again.

He regularly beats him and locks him up in a cage like an animal and its tragic watching him capture John again after he finally escaped from his cruelty earlier on.

The film obviously has some of the best make up for John Merrick, in fact that Oscars were forced to create a new category, Academy award for best make up and hairstyle the following year.

Still it’s Hurt that really makes the film. He brings a real innocence and sensitivity to the role. Part of what makes the film so hard to watch is how vulnerable Merrick seems. With Quentin Crisp in spite of the persecution, he always remained confident and fun. Hell he still cracked jokes even when he was dripping in blood.

With John however he can’t stand anyone even looking at his face. He is ashamed of who he truly is and that makes him all the more tragic. Quentin in spite of everything the bullies did to him never let them truly get him down, but sadly John does, which makes the moment where he finally does scream that he is not an animal all the more powerful.

Its impossible not to be moved by Hurt’s performance. Whilst Caligula is my favourite performance of Hurt’s. I can see why the Elephant Man will probably always be his most famous role.

Aragorn/ The Lord of the Rings

Hurt provided the voice for this heroic character in the original animated adaptation of J .R.R Tolken’s classic.

Sadly this version hasn’t aged well. It was certainly a noble attempt and it did inspire Peter Jackson definitive version, but still don’t expect an overlooked classic when you watch it.

Hurt is one of the film’s saving grace’s. His strong voice suits the character and helps to contrast with the somewhat more wacky Hobbit voices in the film.

Overall a good performance from Hurt but its not one of his more interesting characters.

Hazel/ Watership Down

Hurt’s performance as the main hero in this animated classic is probably his most famous animated role.

The character of Hazel much like Winston is more of an intellectual hero. Though he is ultimately shown to be a lot stronger and more charismatic than Winston.

This film released in 1978 also continued Hurt’s reputation for starring in somewhat edgy, darker projects.

Despite being a children’s cartoon the movie featured some explicit violent content which provoked some complaints from parents. When it was repeated recently this Easter during, it drew many complaints from angry parents.

Watership Down on Easter Sunday leads to complaints

Still in spite of the controversy it remains one of the best loved British animated movies.

Hurt would go on to play the main villain General Woundwort in television adaptation of Watership Down.

The Horned King/ The Black Cauldron

The Horned King is arguably Disney’s darkest and most frightening villain. He is an evil zombie/Demon creature that seeks to gain access to the black cauldron, so that he can use it to create an army of zombies with which he can destroy all life on the planet.

Hurt plays the character in a cold, detached way except when he is hurting people. I found this to be very effective as it felt as though the Horned King was so twisted and evil that he could only feel joy when he was causing pain and misery.

Freddie Jones also appears in this movie in the heroic role of Dallben. Jones appeared in the Elephant Man as Mr Bytes, Merrick’s cruel, sadistic owner. Here the roles are obviously reversed. You don’t even think of either of them as their characters from the Elephant Man, which is testament to what great actors both men are.

Trevor Buttenham/ Hellboy

Trevor Buttenham is the adopted father of Hellboy. He is a typical, Rupert Giles/Peter Cushing style expert on the occult who meets a tragic end when he is killed by the main villain of the piece, after being made to see how his son would seemingly one day become a monster.

Hurt isn’t given that much screen time but he makes the most of the relatively small role he is given like all truly great actors. He brings a real sense of authority and maturity to the role which contrasts superbly with Ron Pearlman’s gun ho, somewhat immature characterisation of Hellboy.

Pealrman and Hurt have great chemistry with one another which makes their relationship seem more real. When Buttenham is killed off it could have easily felt like just a red shirt being killed off in order to make things harder for the hero. Hurt however manages to flesh the character out to the point where the viewer is sad at his demise.

Chancellor Sutler/ V for Vendetta

The complete opposite to his role in 1984, I’ve noticed that John Hurt tends to play either the victim’s of an unfair society, Quentin Crisp, John Merrick, Winston Smith even Kilgarrah, or mad Tyrants like Caligula, The Horned King and Sutler. Depending on the role he’s either at the top or the bottom of a fascist society.

Suttler is the head of the fascist party Norsefire which rules over the United Kingdom. Norsefire has absolute control. All opposition to it is crushed ruthlessly with all political opponents along with homosexuals, immigants and Muslims being rounded up into concentration camps.

Throughout the film Sutler appears mostly on tv screens ranting about the superiority of Norsefire. At the end of the film however when he is finally killed, we see what a miserable pathetic little coward he is. Its a great example of how the man often doesn’t live up to the image that is presented of him.

Suttler is probably the villain role that Hurt is most recognised for among modern audiences. Sadly I don’t think its quite as good a part as Caligula or the Horned King as he has less screen time but still its good that Hurt in the later years of his career, as evidenced with this role hasn’t just been typecast as the wise old mentor.

Mr Ollivander/ Harry Potter Film Series

Hurt played this role in the first and the last two Harry Potter films. Though it was only a minor character this remains one of his most well known roles due to the massive popularity of Harry Potter.

With Ollivander, I feel Hurt was able to develop the character in quite an interesting way. In his first appearance he is a somewhat affable yet quite amoral character. You can tell he loves his work to the point where doesn’t care about his office getting trashed, but at the same time he doesn’t really care who gets each wand. It doesn’t seem to bother him that Voldemort became this unstoppable figure of evil. He still describes almost proudly and fondly how he went on to do “great things”.

In the final entry of the series however, after he suffers greatly  at Voldemort’s hands we see a much more weary, broken character who has finally woken up to the evil that in some ways he had a part in creating.

You can see how different the character is in his first and last appearances. In spite of his somewhat limited screen time, I think the role really gave Hurt a lot to do unlike his part in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Kilgharrah/ Merlin

One of my favourite characters. Kilgharrah is a mighty Dragon who serves as a guide to Merlin throughout the series, though he also wavers between being a hero and a villain at various points.

John Hurt not only supplied the voice for this character but also the motion capture for its face.

Kilgharrah is seemingly the last of his kind. Uther Pendragon the ruler of Camelot despises magic and not only outlaws its use, but slaughters countless people found guilty of using it. He even wipes out whole magical species. The Dragons are among his victims. He tricks the dragon lords the only race who can harm the dragons into helping him wipe them out and capture the last Dragon, the Great Dragon, Kilgharrah. He then chains Kilgharrah up beneath Camelot, where no one can see him. There the Dragon remains for 20 years completely alone. John Hurt even as a Dragon is the victim of a fascist regime!

Kilgharrah contacts Merlin telepathically and lures him down to his cave. There he tells him that it is his destiny along with Arthur, ironically Uther’s son, to restore magic back to the land and unite the 5 kingdoms bringing peace to Albion.

This forms the basic premise of the series. Something magical shows up to kill Arthur and Merlin has to save them in order to ensure that he fulfils his great destiny.

More often than not when facing some magical threat, Merlin will have to go down to the cave and ask Kilgharrah what to do. Though Kilgharrah’s screen time in each episode is often quite small I feel the writers and John Hurt were able to develop the Dragon’s character quite well. In fact I think that Kilgharrah along with Gwen are ironically the two most well developed characters in the entire series.

What makes Kilgharrah s interesting is that we are never entirely sure of his motives. At times he seems like Merlin’s friend who genuinely cares about him, such as when he is sorry at being unable to help his friend Gaius. At other moments however, it appears that he only cares about his own freedom, as when Merlin and Arthur rule and magic is restored then he will be released.

Sometimes he can also appear quite callous and ruthless and it could be argued steers Merlin in the wrong direction for his own ends, such as when he tells him to murder Morganna, Merlin’s friend at that point.

You can see how sinister a character Kilgharrah appears in this scene. He tells Merlin to murder Morgana almost with glee. Is Morgana truly the threat he is claiming she is, or is it the fact that she is Uther, his sworn enemies daughter (something which only Kilgharrah knows at this point) that is really why he wants her dead.

In the season 2 finale Merlin is forced to free Kilgharah and we discover that Kilgharah only ever cared about himself all along. Once free, he tries to burn all of Camelot to the ground.

Kilgharrah naturally wants to make Uther pay, but rather than just simply eat him or burn him he decides to crush his entire kingdom. In order to prolong Uther’s torture he does this slowly visiting Camelot every night for days on end burning whole buildings to the ground and killing scores of knights and civilians. The Dragon even attempts to kill both Arthur and Gwen too.

This is my favourite scene in the show. I love everything about it, the way the Dragon seems so powerful and relentless in its revenge, and also how Merlin is both horrified and disappointed.

After everything they went through the Dragon is actually doing this. At the same time however its interesting the way that the Dragon even after Merlin strikes it ineffectively does nothing against him. It could easily burn/eat/flatten him there and then but instead it just flies away, showing that it must still have some affection for him after all.

It is later discovered that Merlin’s father Balinor is the last of the Dragon lords; the only people who could harm a Dragon. After Balinor dies Merlin inherits his power and uses it stop Kilgharrah. Though he is given the choice to kill the Dragon he ultimately spares the beast. I always found this moment rather uplifting. It was nice in contrast to Morgana seeing Merlin actually have faith in his old friend.

In spite of everything he had done he could be a better person and it ultimately paid off as later in the first episode of series 3 the Dragon saves Merlin as a thank you when the evil Morgause has him chained up and is about to feed him to giant beetle’s. The Dragon goes on to help Merlin many more times, including in the season 3 and 4 finale’s where he plays a key role in saving the day.

I think that’s quite a good message for the children who watched Merlin that doing a nice thing like sparing Kilgharrah will benefit you in the long run. If Merlin had killed Kilgharrah then he himself would have died.

Again apart from Gwen no character changes as much as Kilgharrah in the series. He starts out as a mysterious, distant figure then becomes seemingly a greedy self server and later the ultimate villain of the series, before finally redeeming himself and becoming arguably Merlin’s greatest friend and ally.

Sadly in spite of this Kilgharrah is wasted from series 3 on. After he is free I think the writers didn’t really know what to do with him, other than have him swoop in now and then and kill some bad guys when there was no other way for Merlin to escape.

Its a shame as I think there was still a lot of potential in the character. In series 4 a Dragon egg is discovered which leads to the birth of another Dragon named Aithusa. The hatching of Aithusa is another classic moment in the series and opened up so many interesting possibilities.

Sadly this is never followed up on in any real way. When we next see Aithusa she is in the care of Morgana with no explanation. She also only makes a few fleeting appearances afterwards. Kilgharrah never mentions Aithusa again in the series.

I would have loved it if Aithusa had become a major character alongside Kilgharrah. Maybe they could have got somebody like Ingrid Oliver to voice her. I would have loved that, but sadly they just basically left this plot dangling in the air.

Still whilst Kilgharrah may have been wasted after season 3. Overall I’d still say it was one of John Hurts best roles and certainly his best work as a voice actor.

The War Doctor/ Doctor Who

One of Hurt’s biggest genre roles, the War Doctor is in fact the true 9th Doctor. He is the Doctor who fought in the time war, a war between the Daleks and the Time lords. During the war the 8th Doctor consumed a potion that would change him into a warrior, and thus make him more capable to fight the Daleks.

The War Doctors presence was revealed in the story the Name of the Doctor. At the end of this story the 11th Doctor falls into his own time stream and sees visions of his older selves running around. We see all of the old Doctors that we know and love, but then in the middle is this mysterious figure that we don’t know about who has done something terrible.

Definitely one of the most unnerving moments in Doctor Who’s long history, this was an excellent introduction to the war doctor, though I remember how frustrating it was to wait about 6 months to find out what happened next.

In the next episode, the 50th anniversary itself. We discovered that the war doctor burned Gallifrey and wiped out his own people in order to stop the greatest army of Daleks ever assembled from destroying all of creation.

We had known that the Doctor had burned his people to destroy the Daleks since the start of the revival. But we had always assumed that it had been the 8th Doctor who had done it. The War Doctor was retconned in between the 8th and 9th Doctors as a version of the character who had been blocked out of the memories of the other Doctors who came after. They simply couldn’t face what they had done whilst they were him, as we can see in the video above.

In a stunning twist however it is revealed that the War Doctor saved Gallifrey with the aid of all the other incarnations of the Doctor. He managed to teleport it to safety just as the Daleks were about to open fire on it, which resulted in them destroying each other instead. Sadly the war Doctor does not remember this as it is out of sync with his timeline, and so therefore only the then current Doctor, the 11th, is aware that they saved Gallifrey.

Now the War Doctor’s presence did generate a lot of controversy from fans who wanted the 8th Doctor Paul McGann to appear in the special. I understand this complaint and I think that the minisode The Night of the Doctor which saw the 8th Doctor regenerate into the War Doctor (and even featured a cameo by John Hurt who was digitally altered to look young declare “DOCTOR NO MORE!” as he became a warrior) should have been spliced into the start of Day of the Doctor instead.

Still I did like the War Doctor as I feel it summed up why we love the character of the Doctor. The character of the Doctor is someone who changes but not completely when he regenerates.

A lot of people think that when the Doctor regenerates he can be absolutely anybody but that isn’t true at all. The point of regeneration is that the Doctor changes on the surface but he is the same man underneath, the same consciousness, same memories and the same core personality. That’s ultimately why we have stuck with him all these years. We all come to the show through one Doctor, the first one we see who is usually our Doctor, but as soon as he leaves, and a seemingly completely different character shows up. We still stick with it because as different as the new Doctor may seem he is still the same likable hero, who treats everyone as equals, who always thinks of a way out of something that eludes everybody else etc.

With the War Doctor however we see a Doctor who might actually be different due to outside forces. We are led to believe that Hurt’s Doctor isn’t actually like the others.

He kills as a first option, he has a cynical weary view of things and even physically he stands out from the other Doctors. The first 8 Doctors physically all wore more old fashioned Edwardian/Victorian era clothing, had long hair, clean shaven faces and looked Byronesque. Even the New Who Doctors, Eccelston aside more or less follow this physical template. The War Doctor however has thick facial hair, short hair and dress in plain modern clothing.

Ultimately at the end of the story when the War Doctor decides to spare Gallifrey and works with his other selves to do so we see that he was still the same hero all along. He can’t bring himself to butcher innocent lives and so he does what he always would do, thinks up a solution that evades everyone else, that sounds insane, but works.

In the end nothing can change who the Doctor truly is. Not some magic potion, not regeneration. Faces come and go, but he is always the same hero underneath.

Hurt was brilliant as the character. Throughout the episode he does make us believe that this Doctor could go further than any other Doctor ever has and destroy Gallifrey. He makes him seem not so much ruthless and cold, but more broken to the point of no hope and cynical.

At the same time however underneath the pessimism and bleakness, Hurt also I feel keeps elements of the Doctors gentlemanly qualities and his sense of humour, such as in his interactions with the 10th and the 11th Doctors. Hurt plays superbly off of Tennant and Smith. All of this makes it perfectly believable when in the end Hurt’s Doctor ends up doing the right thing. If he had gone too dark then it wouldn’t have been believable when he saved Gallifrey, whilst at the same time if he had been too light then it would have been obvious from the word go.

Hurt found the balance and it truly is one of his best performances.

Much like with Alien, Hurt has embraced the Doctor Who fandom and has appeared at conventions. He has also reprised the role in audio stories for Big Finish too.

Other Roles

Hurt has had prominent roles in many other films and television series such as Rob Roy, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the 2012 remake of Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, Midnight Express, Scandal and the Alan Clarke Diaries.

In 1987 he provided the voice for a memorably terrifying advert warning about the dangers of AIDS.

In 2012 he was awarded a lifetime achievement BAFTA, whilst in 2015 he was knighted.

Sadly in 2015 Hurt was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. Fortunately in December of that year it was announced that his cancer had gone into remission

Lets hope his recovery continues. Hurt is truly one of Britains greatest talents.

 

 

 

 

 

Cult Actors 6 Tim Curry

Tim Curry is without doubt one of my favourite actors. He’s one of these performers who regardless of how poor the production he is in, or how small a role he has been given, he always manages to make it memorable.

The man is just sheer entertainment and joy in human form and in this article we are going to be taking a look at his most popular and celebrated roles in cult films and television series.

Unlike other actors in this series we won’t be able to look at every genre role he has played as Curry had been in hundreds of different series and films. He has been compared to the late great Christopher Lee in this respect in that though both men have starred in many genre classics, the fact that they were in so much means that sadly they were in quite a lot of shit too like Congo and in Lee’s case Captain America 2: Death too Soon.

Instead we will be looking at his most popular and iconic roles as well as a few of my own personal favourites in order to give you an overview of the great man’s career.

Doctor Frank N Furter/ Rocky Horror Picture Show

Curry’s breakthrough role. Curry first played this character on stage before going on to play the part in the film adaptation of the Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975.

The character was according to Curry originally intended to be just a generic pastiche of evil scientists from old horror movies, but gradually over time both he and the director of the original stage show added more flamboyant aspects to his character, such as his cross dressing nature, and his plummy accent which Curry said he based on an old lady he had seen on a bus.

You’d be hard pushed to find a more over the top villain than Frank N Furter. A cross dressing alien who shags the main male and female characters, eats his servants and builds a perfect man to sleep with in his lab. Naturally of course only Tim Curry could bring such a gloriously flamboyant character to life.

The moment that secured Curry’s status as an LGBT icon for all time and managed to confuse more than a few straight men.

Its not hard to see why Curry’s performance was so popular at the time and remains so. Its completely sensational. From the second he first appears he manages to stand out in a film full of already quite colourful characters.

Curry is able to inject a lot of feminine and masculine qualities into the character which I think is more effective than if he had simply played it as a man who wants to be a woman. He truly does give the impression that Frank N Furter (an alien) is someone to whom gender and sexuality doesn’t matter one bit. On the one hand the way he talks at times can be very masculine. Despite having based the accent on an old lady, Curry makes Frank N Furter’s voice very deep and booming, yet his mannerisms are obviously very feminine too. Frank N Furter manages to be appealing to both the male and female protagonist as a result and confuses just about everyone who ever saw the film!

In terms of his musical performance Curry really excels too. A natural born singer and performer on stage Curry manages to inject Frank N Furter with the charisma and showmanship of Freddie Mercury, mixed in with the androgyny of a Glam rock era David Bowie. Curry mentioned David Bowie as an influence on Frank N Furter. Freddie Mercury may have been an influence as whilst Freddie was largely unknown when the original stage show started in London, he and Curry were very good friends.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show having been a huge success on stage would prove to be an even bigger hit on the big screen, though it was universally slated by critics at the time, it has since gone on to develop a massive cult following almost like no other film. It’s still in a limited release in cinema’s around the world today. This makes it the longest running theatrical release in cinema history.

Despite the films global following, Tim Curry for many years shied away from discussing it. There are a few interviews with Curry you can find on line of him talking about it, but generally speaking he seemed to often not want to mention it in public.

The reason for this is not because Curry hated the Rocky Horror Picture show, but simply because Curry in general is a very private man who actually rarely gives interviews on anything. Virtually nothing is known about his private life. He didn’t discuss the character of Pennywise another one of his most famous roles until 2015!

Added to that as The Rocky Horror Picture Show was such a sensation Curry was scared about being typecast. Its understandable that a young, up and coming actor would want a chance to play many different characters.

On stage Curry did manage to avoid being typecast playing roles as diverse as Amadeus Mozart (which he cites as his favourite role) and King Arthur in Spamelot, but on film and television he would often play the flamboyant villain due to Rocky Horror’s success.

Still I’d say that Curry did manage to break away from the shadow of Frank N Furter only in the sense that whilst he may have made a career out of playing mostly flamboyant and crazy villains, he has become I think just as well known for other characters as much as he has for Frank N Furter.

To some people Curry is Pennywise. A friend of mine who attributes her fear of clowns to watching IT as a child has never seen Rocky Horror and knows nothing about it, but she absolutely loves Tim Curry because of the big role his character had in her childhood. To her he will always be Pennywise. Similarly I myself never saw Rocky Horror until a year or so ago. Growing up I always knew and loved Tim Curry because of the movie Clue, which is still one of my all time favourite films. Whenever I think of Tim Curry, Clue is the first film that springs to mind.

In more recent years Curry has been more willing to talk about his role in the Rocky Horror Picture show. He appeared at its 40th anniversary reunion in 2015 and is scheduled to play the role of the Criminologist Narrator (a role played by Charles Gray in the original) in the upcoming remake starring Laverne Cox as Frank N Furter. This will mark Curry’s first live action role in over 6 years due to his stroke. It somewhat fitting then that its in a remake of the film that made him a household name in the first place.

Curry with the rest of the cast at the 40th anniversary reunion.

Darkness/Legend

One of Curry’s most famous villainous roles and arguably the most famous depiction of the devil in cinema history. Darkness is the main antagonist of the 1985 film Legend. He plans to murder two unicorns so that he can use their horns to destroy all light on the earth and bring eternal chaos to the world. At the same time however he also falls in love with Princess Lily and attempts to marry her.

Curry won the role of Darkness based purely on his performance as Frank N Furter. Ridley Scott was a fan of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and felt that Curry who had acted superbly in high heels as Frank N Furter would be perfect to play the cloven hoofed Satanic villain in this film.

Darkness is a truly memorable creation. A fantastic combination of excellent make up and Tim Curry’s incredible stage presence. Whilst the make up obviously gives the character a memorable look, at the same time such heavy make up can be limiting for an actor, as it can prevent them from using their facial expressions. Curry however manages to rise above this and ironically makes Darkness despite his monstrous appearance a somewhat alluring villain.

Normally I don’t like in love villains. I often find them to be a bit dull and boring and even at times pathetic as really to me a bad guy should be more than just the heroes love rival or jealous ex.

Here however I feel that it works as they are able to turn the classic Beauty and the Beast story on its head. We all know the story of the big scary monster that falls in love and we see its tender, sweet side through its love for the human woman. With Darkness however his love for Lily is presented in a frightening way as we see him try and corrupt her and drag her down to his level. He is also shown to be abusive towards Lily, even striking her when she defies his will.

Whilst Darkness does genuinely love Lily its in the most perverse and twisted way possible which is befitting to a creature that knows only evil.

You can really appreciate the time and effort that’s been spent into creating the make up for the beast and Curry’s performance.

Legend much like many of Curry’s other films such as Clue was a bit of a slow burner. It received some acclaim upon release but was basically a box office flop. Nowadays it is regarded as a cult classic and indeed Curry’s performance as Darkness is by far and away the thing people remember the most about the film, certainly more than its leading man Tom Cruise.

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Wadsworth/Mr Boddy/ Clue

By far and away my favourite performance of Curry’s. Growing up this was one of my favourite films and it still is. I must have rewatched it about 100 times. Whenever someone mentions Tim Curry I get an image of him as Wadsworth from this movie. Again I think that’s the great thing about Curry is that he is not just known for one big iconic role like say Sean Connery. Obviously Connery has had a brilliant career, but whenever you mention Connery I think to most people James Bond would pop up in their heads before any others.

With Curry though like I said it isn’t like that. Yes to lots of people the Rocky Horror Picture Show will spring to mind but to others like my friend, Pennywise will be what they think of and for others it might even be Nigel Thornberry. For me and many others however we will always think of Clue first when we think of Tim Curry.

Clue was released in 1985. It was based on the famous board game (known as Cluedo in the UK.) It sees 7 guests invited up to a mysterious mansion in the middle of nowhere. All 7 of them are victims of blackmail and all are given assumed names to protect their real identities.

The butler of the Mansion Wadsworth (played by Tim Curry) reveals that one of the guests Mr Boddy is the one blackmailing the others. Wadsworth tells them that he has phoned the police and that all the guests should reveal to them what Mr Boddy has done in order to put him behind bars. Many of the guests however are unhappy about this as they too will be exposed.

Mr Boddy offers them all a way out. He gives them all weapons and the chance to kill Wadsworth who has the key to the front door so that they can all escape before the police can arrive and identify them.

Mr Boddy turns out the lights and allows them to kill Wadsworth, but his plan backfires and he himself is killed by one of the guests in the dark. Wadsworth feeling guilty over his death then explains the truth. He too was a victim of Mr Boddy. His wife had friends who were socialists (the movie is set during the McCarthy era in the 1950’s) and with this knowledge Mr Boddy blackmailed the both of them into working for him as slaves.

Wadswroth’s wife then killed herself and Wadsworth became determined to bring Mr Boddy to justice and invited all of his other blackmail victims here to try and expose him and force a confession out of him. Even he however never dreamed Mr Boddy would go this far and try to murder him.

One by one 5 more people are murdered as Wadsworth and the other guests try to figure out who is the murderer. The cook is stabbed to death, a motorist who shows up after his car breaks down is hit over the head with a wrench, a Cop who arrives at the house is beaten to death with a lead pipe, Yvette the chamber maid is throttled to death and finally a singing telegram girl is shot dead.

After the singing telegram girl is killed Wadsworth works out who the murderer is and goes to the effort of re enacting the entire evening to the guests in order to explain how the murderer did it.

From here there are 3 different endings. This is meant to reflect the nature of the board game itself where anyone can be the killer. One night you play it, it could be Colonial Mustard, another it could be Miss Scarlet etc.

In Ending A, Miss Scarlett and Yvette are revealed to be the killers. She and Yvette worked together to gain access to the government secrets from the other guests (all of the guests at the house work for the government in some capacity) and killed Mr Boddy and his accomplices together (the motorist, the cop, the cook and the singing telegram girl were all Mr Boddy’s informants.)

Miss Scarlett then turned on Yvette herself in order to have sole possession of the government information which she intends to sell to the highest bidder. She also plans to continue blackmailing the others in order to gain access to further government information.

Before she can kill Wadsworth who as a mere butler has no access to government information, Wadsworth manages to disarm her and the police arrive. It is revealed that Wadsworth was in fact working for the FBI to bring down Boddy and Scarlett all along.

In Ending B it is revealed that Mrs Peacock killed Mr Boddy and all of his informants. The cook used to be her cook something which Wadsworth worked out when she reveals that she had been eating her favourite recipe at dinner. “And Monkey’s brains though popular in Cantonese cuisine are not often to be found in Washington DC.” Despite this however Wadsworth allows Mrs Peacock (who still has the gun) to leave. Outside however she is ambushed by FBI agents with it being revealed that Wadsworth once again is an undercover agent.

In the final ending Wadsworth reveals that virtually all of the guests carried out the murders. Professor Plum shot at Mr Boddy in the dark, pretended he was dead and then later killed him by bashing his head in with a candle stick. Mrs Peacock just as in the second ending killed her former cook. Colonial Mustard killed the motorist who had been his driver in the war and had informed on him, Miss Scarlett killed the cop who she had been bribing, and Miss White strangled Yvette who had been having an affair with her husband.

To everyone’s surprise Wadsworth then reveals that he killed the Singing telegram girl and that he is in fact Mr Boddy. The person they thought was Mr Boddy was in fact another victim of blackmail who the real Boddy had forced to pose as him to ensure his safety. However the blackmail victim soon turned on him and tried to get the other guests to kill him (it can be assumed that Boddy had forged evidence “proving” that that the blackmail victim was Mr Boddy instead.) Ultimately this ended up playing right into the real Boddy (Wadsworth’s) hands.

Boddy tells them that he got them here to deal with his network of spies and informers and that now that they are all dead there is no evidence against him, so he can continue to blackmail the guests. Just then however Mr Green the only guest who didn’t kill someone lifts out a revolver and shoots Boddy dead. He reveals that he is a plant from the FBI and once again the FBI arrive, only this time they take everyone away as they all did it.

Clue truly is a classic film. Everything about it works, it has a fantastic story, its multiple endings gives it a completely surreal aspect that helps it stand out from other whodunnit mysteries. I love the way in two alternate universes Tim Curry is this cheesy, even somewhat romantic hero, whilst in another he is this evil Machiavellian mastermind who is shot dead by Mr Green.

Above all else however Clue is brilliantly cast. Its really an all star cast made up of comic/cult movie royalty. You have Christopher Lloyd best known for playing Doc Brown in the Back to the Future series and General Kruge the main villain in Star Trek 3 who famously orders Captain Kirk’s son’s death. Michael McKean best known for starring in This is Spinal Tap as one of the main characters David St Hubbins and Madeline Kahn who is best known for her collaborations with Mel Brooks, such as in Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles which won her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

All of them are at the top of their game in this film and each get their moments to shine, but I think the best thing about the movie is how they all play off of each other. The chemistry between all of the main characters is just so enjoyable. Apparently in real life all of the actors involved had an excellent time making the movie and I think that really helps with the finished product as they all feel so natural in each others presence as a result.

In spite of all this however I’d still say that Tim Curry completely and utterly steals the show. Its no easy task to dominate a film from with such an impressive cast, many of whom give among their best performances. Madeline Kahn in particular has a truly shining moment of comedy gold when she describes her hatred of Yvette in the most deranged way possible.

Its even better when you find out this bit was improvised and the other actors reactions to it are real!

Still undeniably this is Curry’s film. It kind of reminds me of what people said about the late great Rik Mayall’s performance in Blackadder as Lord Flasheart. Even in a room full of comedy greats like Rowan Atkinson, and Stephen Fry, Mayall was still able to completely hog the limelight and upstage all of them and with Curry in Clue its the same.

My favourite moment in the film is at the end when Curry explains how the murderer carried out the killings and acts out the entire film in about 5 minutes. Curry’s energy in this scene is just incredible the way he darts from room to room, tosses Michael McKean, Madeline Kahn and Miss Peacock around in his recreations of what happened. I could watch Tim Curry explain things all day. Apparently the rest of the cast found it difficult to keep straight faces during these final moments with Curry.

I’d say that Wadsworth is Curry’s best performance. Its not as sensational as Frank N Furter, and obviously Pennywise is the scariest of his many villain roles, but Wadsworth I think is his best role as it gives him more to do.

With Wadsworth not counting the last ending, he is given a chance for once to play the charismatic and likable hero. There are also so many different layers to Wadsworth.

He has a fairly tragic backstory that’s enough to make the viewer sympathise with him, yet at the same time there is an air of mystery about Wadsworth throughout the film. This coupled with the fact that at times he can seem like a bit of a bumbling oaf, yet in other moments he is clearly cleverer than all of the other main characters combined makes it believable in all endings when he is revealed to be more than a mere butler.

Even in the third ending though Curry is once again the villain, its a more restrained, cold calculating character instead of his usual theatrical over the top type of villainous roles.

I remember actually hating the third ending as a child as I loved Wadsworth so much I didn’t want him to be the bad guy. He was one of my favourite heroes in anything and I’d often switch it off before the last ending.

Obviously now that I’m older I can see that the multiple endings are really part of what makes the film so special and I think they benefit Curry’s performance as they allow you to look at certain moments with his character in different ways when you watch it back.

For instance near the beginning of the film there is a scene where Wadsworth gathers all of the guests together, and Mr Boddy attempts to leave before Wadsworth can explain what’s going on. Though all the doors are locked Boddy attempts to throw a brick through a window and escape only for a pit bull to appear. Realising there is no escape, Boddy gives up and Wadsworth gives him a smug look.

Now if you take either of the first two endings as the real endings then this is a moment where Wadsworth the hero has finally after years of abuse; turned the tables on the evil villain who drove his beloved wife to suicide. You root for Wadsworth when Mr Boddy is unable to escape.

However if you take the final ending as the real ending then it actually becomes a very dark scene. Here the person we think is Mr Boddy is actually another black mail victim who is being forced to go along with something where he knows he most likely will die. This is his last chance to escape but unfortunately the evil mastermind Wadsworth (in reality Mr Boddy) has everything prepared and that final little smile Wadsworth gives him is a horrible little taunt that he will never be free.

When it was first released Clue was a massive flop both critically and commercially. Much like Rocky Horror and Legend however, Clue would gain acclaim many years later as a cult classic.

It’s cult following nowadays is almost on a par with the Rocky Horror Picture Show itself. Schools have even begun to perform versions of it!

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Much like the Rocky Horror Picture Show there have been midnight screenings of Clue all across the world ever since and many other performances of the film on stage too.

In 2015 the 100th episode of the American series Psych cast three of the actors from Clue, Christopher Lloyd, Martin Mull, and Lesley Anne Warren in an episode that was a tribute to the film set in a mansion with a murder mystery.

Finally it was also announced in 2011 that there was a remake of the film planned, which makes it one of three of Curry’s most famous projects that is scheduled for a remake.

Personally I don’t think they will ever be able to find a cast that gels as well as those in the original and I really doubt they will ever be able to find anyone as good as Tim Curry to play Wadsworth.

Pennywise the Dancing Clown/ IT

Arguably Curry’s most terrifying villain, Pennywise is an evil monster that originated from another universe. It emerges every 27 years to prey on the children of Derry, Maine.

It has no true form, but it will often appear as a clown named Pennywise. It has no real goals other than to devour children, though it enjoys eating kids more when they are terrified. Throughout the two part telemovie it often tries to bring them to the very limit of their terror first before killing them. It will use anything it can, memories of abusive parents, school bullies, even horror movies to terrify its victims before eating them alive. At one point he disturbingly remarks that the children all taste so much better when they are scared.

With Pennywise Curry is given a chance to create a truly nightmarish character. Unlike Darkness who at least had some charisma and was alluring in a dark way, or Frank N Furter who had an incredible sex appeal, Pennywise is a blood curdling monster through and through. By far and away his most terrifying moment is when he lures poor little Georgie down into the sewers and tears him apart with his bare teeth.

Hard to believe that’s Wadsworth!

The Georgie scene demonstrates why you don’t need lots and lots of gore to make something truly bone chilling. There’s not a drop of blood here. Instead its entirely down to the atmosphere, the writing, the music and of course Curry’s performance that its such a memorable scene.

Its so disturbing watching Pennywise lure Georgie in. You can tell that Georgie is naturally scared of this clown, but Pennywise manages to tempt Georgie in with his little paper boat that he lost. Pennywise’s eyes just light up when Georgie reaches down for it and he knows he’s got George. Curry is absolutely savage when he moves in for the kill, screaming at his victim that he’ll “float too!” We also don’t get to see what it is that Pennywise does to Georgie as he pulls him in. Its just left up to imagination which is even more terrifying. I also like the way we see the full effect of Georgie’s death on his family too. It helps make the terror seem more real.

Whilst Pennywise is a monster, Curry is still incredibly enough able to bring a lot of humour into the villain too. I find that younger viewers often miss out on the comedic elements of Pennywise’s character as they are often too scared of the darker aspects.

I know that when I was younger I was completely terrified of Pennywise to the point where I could barely watch him, but when I watched it again as an adult it was even better as I could see that Curry whilst scary as Pennywise was also really funny too.

In many ways Curry’s performance as Pennywise serves as quite a good mirror of the other main villain of IT, the evil school bully Henry Bowers.

Curry plays Pennywise like a demented child. He loves just playing sick, twisted pathetic little games on the most vulnerable people. He is what Henry would be if he had the same kind of power. At the same time however I also like the way Pennywise drives Henry insane.

It kind of highlights how there’s always a bigger bully out there, also the fact that Henry is so terrified of Pennywise his hair turns white when the monster attacks him shows how much weaker he is than the people he targets. In spite of Pennywise’s tricks which played on their deepest fears, they remained strong, whilst just the sight of the monster was enough to make Henry go completely and hopelessly insane for the rest of his life.

Whilst Curry may not be given as much screen time as in other projects like Clue he is able to make every bit as big an impression on the viewer in a different way.

Fortunately for Curry he didn’t have to wait for IT to be appreciated like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Clue or Legend. It was an instant ratings and critical success and Pennywise has since gone on to be seen as one of the scariest horror movie villains of all time.

He regularly makes the top ten horror movie villains lists.

 

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Much like with the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tim Curry never mentioned Pennywise in interviews for over 20 years until 2015 where he said that it was a wonderful part.

It was announced in 2009 that a remake of IT would be made and in 2016,  Bill Skasgard was confirmed to be playing the role.

This makes Pennywise one of three classic Curry characters along with Frank N Furter and Wadsworth to be reinterpreted by a new actor sometime soon.

Mr Hector/ Home Alone 2 Lost in New York

I think its funny when you compare this character to Curry’s other famous villains like Frank N Furter, Darkness or Pennywise, all of whom are such powerful, strong villains. Mr Hector in comparison is just a petty little jobs worth.

I think it just goes to show what a good actor Curry is though that he can play less charismatic and theatrical characters if he needs too. I think this is also a case of Curry making what was a fairly minor, dull character quite memorable. Everything about him just the way he looks, his mannerisms, his voice all give the character a wonderfully prissy, uptight persona that just makes it all the better when Kevin outwits him.

Kevin is lucky that it was Mr Hector and not Pennywise.

Hexxus/ Ferngully: The Last Rainforest

One of Tim’s most acclaimed animated roles. Hexxus is an ancient Demonic entity that thousands of years ago very nearly destroyed all life on earth before being imprisoned within a tree by fairies.

He is later re-awoken when the tree is cut down, after which he plans to make the fairies suffer for imprisoning him before resuming his quest to destroy all life on the planet.

This character scared me when I was a child, though a large part of that was the design.

Curry isn’t given that much screen time as the villain, but he makes the most of the role. By far his greatest moment is when he performs the song Toxic Love.

Even as a demonic black ooze Tim Curry still manages to have some sex appeal. Check out the comments.

Ferngully was a reasonable success when it was first released and has since developed a cult following like many of Tim’s films, though it can be argued due to his status just about any film he’s in will develop a cult following just because he’s in it!

Professor Oldman/ Scary Movie 2

Now this is not one of Tim’s best movies. He’s hardly in it and its a pretty poor film all around (Though surprisingly this was a big hit when it was first released unlike Clue!)

Still Curry’s performance as Professor Oldman, the pervy old professor who spends all of his screen time ogling the young female characters of the movie is hilarious and yet another example of how Curry is able to take what is a small role in a poor production and elevate it. Though he only has a very little screen time he is really the thing people remember the most about the film.

Curry’s performance reminds me somewhat of Rik Mayall as Richard Richard in Bottom. The pervy little laugh he does when he’s told how he can spy on all the young women in the house whilst they are taking a shower, or the look on his face when he’s eating an apply as Cindy tries to seduce him are just complete Richie moments.

My favourite scene however is his death when he is lured away by a sexy female Ghost who kills him. I love the way the ghost woman is as sinister as can be. Creeping about in the shadows, speaking in a spooky echoing voice, but Oldman doesn’t care as he thinks she is hot and he blindly follows her to his death. Again the little pervy laugh he gives when he first sees her never fails to make me laugh. The only bad thing about his death scene is that it comes to early in the film.

All of Curry’s scenes in Scary Movie 2, which are not surprisingly the only scenes worth watching!

Nigel Thornberry/ The Wild Thornberrys

Probably the most harmless and least villainous role Curry has ever played. Nigel Thornberry is also probably Curry’s 5th big character. His big 4 are definitely Frank N Furter, Darkness, Wadsworth and Pennywise, but I’d say that this character is definitely the one that pops up in connection to his name the most after them. Its certainly his most acclaimed animated role.

Curry voiced this character for all five seasons of The Wild Thornberry’s. Though he was only a supporting character Nigel quickly became the most popular member of the cast among fans due to his bumbling, oafish, yet sweet natured personality and his ridiculously posh, high voice.

Over 1 million views is not bad going for a Saturday morning children’s cartoon that hasn’t been on in almost 15 years, and that isn’t part of a big franchise like Batman or Superman.

Thornberry is not the most nuanced role, but it was still great to see Tim play what is essentially the complete opposite from most of his other roles and its a very funny character overall.

To a whole generation of people Curry is Nigel, which I suppose must seem quite jarring when they go back and look at his other roles like Frank N Furter and Pennywise. It just goes to show what a versatile actor Curry is overall.

Long John Silver/ Muppets Treasure Island

This is one of Curry’s best comedic roles. He himself has cited it as one his favourite parts, having been a huge fan of the Muppets for years, Curry joked that it had been ambition of his for many decades to work alongside Miss Piggy.

Silver is a classic hammy badguy role for Curry. He even gets another great badguy song too.

I don’t think any actor has performed as many badguy songs as Tim Curry!

At the same time however I feel that this role also gave Curry a chance to portray a slightly more nuanced villain. Unlike say Frank N Furter there is some good in Silver as he is shown to genuinely to care about Jim with whom he develops a fatherly relationship with. He shares some of his deepest secrets with Jim, risks his life to save him and even offers him a chance to join him. He also demonstrates some self awareness telling Jim that he respects him because he is brave, honourable and kind all things that Silver wishes he could be.

Thus whilst the character was yet another villain role for Curry I feel that it gave him a chance to play a character with some gravitas and the final moment between Silver and Jim is actually rather touching.

Captain Hook/ Peter Pan and The Pirates

Another villainous Pirate role, this is one of Curry’s most popular and enduring animated roles. Sadly I myself have not had a chance to view the series yet, though its on my to do list. Still I felt this was worth mentioning as Curry won a Daytime Emmy award for his role as the villain in this series.

This sadly marks won of only 4 awards the actor has won throughout his career, including his lifetime achievement award. The rest are all to do with his stage work as well.

Skull Master/Mighty Max

The Skull Master was the main antagonist of the short lived but very memorable animated series called Mighty Max.

Mighty Max evolved around a young boy named Max (obviously) who was chosen to protect the earth by the last Lemurian (an intelligent bird like creature) and his immortal sidekick Norman. Together the three of them battle The Skull Master an ancient, all powerful Demon who was responsible for the exterminating the entire Lemurian race as well as all of Atlantis too. The trio’s battle with the Skull Master takes them all across the globe and even at certain points through time and across different dimensions.

The role is a pretty straight forward dark lord character, but he is still lots of fun and Tim Curry really gives him more personality than he would have otherwise had.

Pretorius/ The Mask Animated Series

The main villain in The Mask Animated Series, Pretorius is a camp, psychopathic scientist who has managed to transplant his head onto a robots body, though he also has other spare robot bodies too. He seeks to gain control of the Mask so that he can use its power to become a god. Though he is the Mask’s archenemy he has a great admiration for him, even at one point telling the Mask that if he were a girl then he would marry him!

Pretorius was brilliant fun. The Mask is such a flamboyant and over the top character that he needs a villain who is every bit as OTT as he is or else he won’t seem like a match for him at all. Fortunately as Pretorius Curry manages to if anything be even more crazier at times than the Mask himself.

Curry was one of the 4 main voices of 90’s villainy. Just about every cartoon from that decade had either Mark Hamill, Clancy Brown, David Warner or Tim Curry as a villain.

Hamill will always be the crazy villain like the Joker, Warner, the dignified, cultured British villain, Brown either the barbarian or the criminal mastermind and finally Curry fittingly would be the most flamboyant, gloriously over the top villain.

Its just a shame that there has never been an animated series that featured all 4 of them together.

Farley Claymore/ The Shadow

Similar to his role in Home Alone 2 this character is more a weasly, unlikable little creep than a dark charismatic figure of evil. He’s not the main villain of the piece, more just a treacherous self server.

When it was first released The Shadow was not a big hit but over time like many of Curry’s other films it has developed a strong following.

Pa Bracket, Ma Bracket, Winona Bracket/ Tales From The Crypt

TFTC PIC 5

In this classic episode of the famous Anthology series Tim Curry plays an entire family of demented salesmen killing psychopaths.

Under heavy make up Curry creates a uniquely horrific personality for all three characters, though the worst is the daughter, who the main character of the episode Judd Campbell played by Ed Begley Junior is forced to marry in order to avoid being hacked to pieces. Winona is kind of like Frank N Furter, a sex crazed perverted monster, but unlike Frank she has 0 sex appeal

Though the episode is quite gruesome in places there are also some really funny moments too. Curry is absolutely sensational as all three characters. The first time I saw it I wasn’t even aware that it was one guy playing all of the villains.

The episode earned Curry an Emmy Nomination and it remains one of his most popular television roles.

Other Roles

Curry has played many high profile villainous roles in many animated series including MAL in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Professor Finbar Calamitious in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius, Slagar the Cruel in Redwall, and Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars the Clone Wars. He has also lent his voice to various video games too such as the Dragon Age series where he played the evil Rendon Howe and the Gabriel Knight series where he played the title character.

Curry has also had many other prominent live action roles on both film and television.

He appeared in the 2000 remake of Charlie’s Angels as the sleazy businessman Roger Corwin. I always felt this role was comparable to Professor Oldman as he was a similar leering pervert. Most of his screen time is basically just him perving over Lucy Liu’s character. He did get a few good moments in the film such as his fight with Bill Murray where he beats him in a Sumo match and I always laughed at this moment.

Those hack journalists said I only went into racing to overcompensate for my diminishing libido. I had them all fired

(everyone bursts out laughing)

What’s everyone laughing at? I did!

Pennywise beats up Doctor Venkman.

Sadly however much like in Scary Movie 2 his character is killed off way too early in the film by the real villain of the piece, The Thin Man played by Crispin Glover.

Curry also played the villainous Cardinal Richelieu in the 1993 film adaptation of The Three Muskeeters and Rooster Hannigan in the 182 adaptation of Annie, which remains one of his most popular roles. He also starred as The Grand High Wizard in the popular 1986 telemovie The Worst Witch.

Another notable villainous performance was as Gaal in the short lived sci fi series Earth 2. Curry has also guest starred in other series such as Will and Grace, Lexx and Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

His career on the stage has been just as remarkable and arguably more varied. His stage career began in the 1960’s when he was part of the cast of Hair. He then went onto to star in the Rocky Horror Picture Show which launched his career on both film and stage. From then on other prominent stage roles included Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Amadeus, The Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Scrooge in a Christmas Carol, and King Arthur in Spamelot.

In 2015 Curry was given an artistic achievement award at the Tony’s to celebrate his work in theatre.

What Could Have Been

As we have seen Curry throughout his long and varied career has played many iconic characters and definitely secured a place as one of the UK’s most beloved character actors.

Sadly however he also missed out on playing two of the most famous fictional characters of all time. Batman’s archenemy the Joker and The Doctor from Doctor Who.

Curry almost played the Joker twice. In 1989 he was Tim Burton’s second choice for the villain whilst in 1994 he was cast as the villain in the now considered classic Batman the Animated series.

He recorded dialogue for 7 episodes as the character. Christmas with the Joker, The Last Laugh, Jokers Favour, Be a Clown, Joker’s Wild, and The Laughing Fish.

Ultimately however Curry was replaced by Mark Hamill in the role. The recordings Curry made as the character have never been released. Hamill re recorded all of the lines for the 7 episodes Curry did. Traces of Curry’s Joker however did appear in two episodes.

In Be A Clown Tim Curry’s Joker laugh is used for a Robot Clown in the Joker’s base. Also in the episode Dreams of Darkness when Batman is attacked by a hallucination of the Joker caused by Scarecrows fear gas Curry’s laugh is once again used for the hallucinatory Joker.

As to why Tim Curry was replaced three different reasons have been given.

According to head writer Paul Dini in the companion book to the series whilst the producers were impressed with Curry they felt his interpretation was too dark and too frightening. Dini said that they wanted a Joker who would scare the kids, but not too much. Thus with regret he said they decided to replace Curry.

Bruce Timm the producer of the series however refutes this claim. He says that they were perfectly happy for Curry to continue to play the Joker, but that the role put too much stress on his vocal chords. He could not sustain the Joker laugh for long enough periods as it would make him cough and gag violently due to his smoking habit. Thus Curry himself had to pull out for health and practical reasons.

Mark Hamill (himself a massive fan of Tim Curry) said that his performance was excellent, but that the real reason he was replaced was simply because at that point Curry was on so many Fox animated series that the studio was worried he would be seen as the voice of the studio much like how Mel Blanc was seen as the voice of Warner Bros. Not wanting any actor to have that kind of sway they demanded that he be taken off the Batman project (arguably their biggest property)

2017 Edit Update: It was recently revealed by Curry that the reason he was dismissed from the role was simply because he had bronchitis and as they couldn’t delay the production until he got better they had to find somebody else.

Curry would later go on to play another villain for the sequel series Batman Beyond called Mutro Botha.

Its sad that Curry has never got a chance to play the Joker properly. I have no idea if the tapes he recorded still exist. I hope that if they do Bruce Timm releases them as a special feature on release of Batman the Animated Series. I’d love a special feature where you can watch the seven episodes he did either with Curry as the Joker or Hamill as the Joker.

I don’t know if Curry could still voice the Joker since his stroke as his speech has slowed down. Hopefully though if his recovery continues he might be able to one day.. I’d love to see him play the character in an animated movie or series. It really is a role he should play as he would just be so perfect for it.

I will say though I am glad that Hamill got the role in Batman the Animated series. Hamill is my fave Joker also I think the role of the Joker helped to establish Hamill as a prolific villain actor himself.

In the early 90’s the creator of the Daleks Terry Nation and the co-creator of the Cybermen Gerry Davies attempted to revive Doctor Who. Nation mentioned in an interview that his first choice for the role of the Doctor was Tim Curry. Sadly however Nation and Davies’ pitch for the series was rejected by the BBC who wanted to sell Doctor Who to America at that point.

Curry was later cast as the 8th incarnation of the Doctor in the mid 90’s when the BBC were planning to revive Doctor Who as a British/American co-production. Curry was the producers number 1 choice for the time lord and he happily accepted the part. He said in an interview that he was looking forward to playing the Doctor as he hoped it would help him escape his typecasting problem of always being the villain.

Sadly the project went into development hell for many years and by the time it was ready to go ahead Curry was busy with other commitments and regretfully had to drop out leading to Paul McGann being cast instead.

According to some online sources Curry did suggest Paul McGann to the producers.

In addition to this during the 1980’s John Nathan Turner approached him about appearing as Sharez Jek the main villain in what is now considered by many critics to be the greatest Doctor Who story ever made The Caves of Androzani . Though Curry expressed an interest in appearing, other commitments once again prevented him from appearing in the show.

I think its even more annoying that Curry missed out on a chance to play the Doctor than the Joker. Whilst he would have been great as the Joker, I honestly think if he had been the Doctor he would have been as good as Tom Baker himself.

No disrespect to Paul McGann who was also a great Doctor. I am not saying I would rather he didn’t play the Doctor. I would have preferred it if the Beeb didn’t torpedo the show in 1989 and allowed it to run throughout the 90’s and Curry could have been either the 8th or the 9th Doctor and McGann similarly could have been either the 9th or the 8th Doctors too. We can still keep the new Doctors of course, they will just be later incarnations as a result.

I think Curry would have been the perfect Doctor for many reasons. To start with I think that the Doctor should always be played by a character actor who’s not your average leading man.

The likes of Tom Baker, Patrick Troughton, Colin Baker, William Hartnell, Sylvester McCoy, and Matt Smith were certainly not your standard leading men. They were all quirky character actors and that’s why they all I think really threw themselves into the character as it was really the only time they got a chance to be the star of their own show.

Even the current Doctor Peter Capaldi falls into this category. Prior to the role of the Doctor though he had had a long and successful career, he had also not ever really been a leading man. He had played the lead role of Malcolm Tucker, but Tucker wasn’t exactly what you would call a hero to millions of people or a role model to children was he?

I think if he had been cast Tim Curry would have similarly embraced the role like no other in his career.

The role of the Doctor is also a personality part above all else. You need someone who is naturally eccentric, who naturally has quite a big persona, and someone who in many ways can just play an exaggerated version of themselves. Again its not hard to see how Curry would be perfect for this type of character. He definitely has a very large and theatrical stage persona to say the least.

I can see Curry’s version of the Doctor being comparable to Wadsworth. Wadsworth is kind of like the Doctor in that he is a posh, eccentric, at times somewhat bumbling hero who is still nevertheless two steps ahead of everyone.

Tim Curry and Michael McKean’s interactions with each other in Clue remind me of Tom Baker’s Doctor and his first male companion Harry Sullivan. In both cases you have one character who is a bit of a clumsy oaf (Harry and McKean) and another more flamboyant, OTT, at times equally oafish, yet devilishly clever at other points character (Wadsworth and the Doctor.)

Both are a perfect match as both take it in turns to be the straight man. Sometimes McKean and Harry are too slow in figuring things out compared to Wadsworth and The Doctor and their clumsy nature can make them seem silly, yet at other times Wadsworth and the Doctor are just so mental, they frustrate McKean and Harry.

Take a look at this clip of Wadsworth and McKean below and then compare it to another clip of Tom Baker with Harry and you can see how Curry’s Doctor might have fitted in with Tom’s.

You can definitely see how Wadsworth is very Docotrish and if Curry had played it that way then I think it would have been excellent.

Sadly due to his recent stroke it seems very unlikely that Currry will get a chance in the TARDIS, but still he could play the role in an audio unbound story.

For those of you unfamiliar with them the Doctor Who Unbound stories are audios set in alternate universes which allow other actors a chance to play the Doctor. Pesronally I’d love to see Tim play an unbound Doctor. Big Finish if you are reading this get him on the phone.

As it is of course Tim Curry and Doctor Who managed to be legends (no pun intended) without each other, but still I think its a real shame that he never got a chance to play the Doctor as he would have easily been one of the best.

Health Problems

Curry sadly suffered a stroke in 2012. He now uses a wheelchair and though he can thankfully still speak, his voice is much slower and deliberate than before.

Its sad seeing him like this but the good news is that he is still able to act and has done some voice work since the stroke. He is all set to appear in the remake of the Rocky Horror Picture show as the Narrator.

Lets all hope the great man continues to recover. He definitely has a great body of work behind him already and will always be remembered for his most iconic characters, Frank N Furter, Wadsworth and Pennywise.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cult Actors 3 Claire Stansfield

On this weeks edition of Cult actors we will be taking a look at retired actress Claire Stansfield who is probably best known for her recurring role as Xena’s nemesis, the evil shameness Alti on Xena the Warrior Princess.

Before her retirement Claire had a very successful career as a cult actress and appeared in a number of sci fi and fantasy series.

 

I think it was a shame that Claire stopped acting. She had an incredible screen presence, stunning good looks and and a very wide range as an actress having played a variety of different roles, both villainous and heroic throughout her short career. I hope to one day see her return even just to voice acting as she had a fabulous voice too.

Alpha/ The Flash

One of Claire’s first roles in the short lived series based upon the character from DC comics. The Flash series though not a massive success when it first aired is now regarded as a classic.

Claire’s episode”Alpha” was definitely one of the better episodes of the series thanks in no small part to her performance. Claire does a good job in making Alpha a likable character. Though Alpha, an android who just wants to be a human, but whose creators want to use her for a more nefarious scheme isn’t a particularly origi`-hc.4’H=#nal idea, but its still nevertheless nice to see Claire play a more soft, vulnerable character unlike the normally tough and or villainous roles she would become known for.

The Jersey Devil/ The X-Files

One of Claire’s most famous roles was as the savage young woman who is mistaken for the legendary Jersey Devil in the 5th ever episode of the X-Files. Apparently Claire was recommended for the role by leading man David Duchovny who was a close personal friend of hers.  The Jersey Devil, though she does murder and eat several people is still portrayed as a somewhat sympathetic character, as she only does what she does to protect her children.

Even Mulder manages to have some empathy with her despite the fact that she attacks him as well. Her death at the end is strangely moving in spite of her many crimes and Claire is really able to bring a lot of heart and gravitas into the character making it one of the shows more memorable one shot villains.

Sid/ Twin Peaks

Claire guest starred in two episodes of the iconic cult series as the character Sid. There’s not really much to say about this role in all honesty. Though it was great to see Claire appear on such a popular series the character was still a fairly minor role.

Joanne/ The Outpost/Mind Ripper/ The Hills Have Eyes 3

Claire starred in this low budget horror movie opposite Lance Henrikson. The Outpost also known as Mindripper and The Hills Have Eyes 3 (though it has no connection with the other entries in the series apart from being produced by Wes Craven) was a movie I didn’t really bother with for a long while due to its negative reputation.

Had it not been for this article, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to track it down but I am glad I did as it is actually rather enjoyable. Its not high class entertainment, but as a cheap monster movie which is all it was ever supposed to be it works really well.

The films plot see’s a group of scientists including Claire’s character Joanne attempt to create a new serum that can transform people into super soldiers, however predictably it goes wrong and their test subject whom they nickname “Thor” escapes and goes on the rampage. Thor kills all of the scientists except for Joanne and Stockton who along with his family must try and escape from the facility.

There are a lot of very creatively gruesome deaths throughout the film and exciting action sequences. Though the ending seems almost comical the way “Thor” keeps getting defeated only to suddenly re emerge again without any explanation. First they lock him in the base, then he appears on the top of their truck even though there is no way he could have escaped from the base. Then they blow him up but then a few minutes later he is on the plane, even though we saw the plane take off and fly through the air very clearly with no one on it!

Claire herself is the one who finally finishes Thor off by shooting him in the head causing the mutant to fall several hundred feet to the ground below, though the ending implies that he has survived yet again.

Like I said the movie overall is not high class entertainment but as a silly gore fest its great and contemporary reviews have tended to be a bit more positive. I think people tend to go into the film with this mindset more often nowadays.

Regardless of the quality of the film overall Claire gives a brilliant performance. Joanne is an Ellen Ripley style hard as nails heroine. Its a shame Claire wasn’t given a chance to play this type of character more often, as I think if given the chance to appear in a mainstream movie as this type of character, she could have had a long career as a leading lady. Claire and Lance Henrikson another cult favourite both elevate this movie to being better than it actually is.

Alti/ Xena the Warrior Princess

Claire’s most famous role. Claire played this character in just 6 episodes of Xena, but she nevertheless went on to become one of the show’s most memorable characters. Alti really took over from Hudson Leick’s Callisto as Xena’s archenemy in the later seasons (with Callisto only making three appearances after Alti appeared due Leick’s desire to quit the series).

Alti served as a totally different type of villain to Callisto in a number of ways. To begin with Alti was far more powerful. Callisto had only ever been a match for Xena (though even then Xena always defeated her even when Callisto was a goddess.) Alti however was so powerful she’d usually have Xena and Gabrielle lying on the floor bloodied and crying. Xena never defeats Alti without help throughout the entire series.

Alti also had played a role in shaping Xena into an evil person in the past. With Callisto it was the total opposite she was someone who had been turned into a monster by Xena’s evil actions. Finally Callisto had always been a more sympathetic character. From the very beginning in some ways the audiences sympathies are actually with Callisto more than they are with Xena. Many would argue that she does have every right to avenge herself on the warrior princess.

Whilst some people might argue that this made Alti a less interesting character than Callisto I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a villain who is just pure evil. People often act as though those types of villains are boring compared to the more sympathetic characters, but then again remember that some of the most memorable villains across all mediums are pure monsters. Professor Moriarty, The Joker, Davros, The Yellow Eyed Demon from Supernatural and Lord Voldemort are all complete monsters with very little to no shades of grey whatsoever.

What these villains lack in depth they often more than make up for in both menace and screen presence. A total monster often provides the biggest challenge to the hero, even if they are not their most powerful enemy, as they are the ones who are willing to go the furthest in stopping the hero.

I think its always good to have a mix of different types of villains and that to me was one of Xena’s strengths. It did have a very sympathetic villain in the form of Callisto, a villain who walked a fine line in the form of Ares, a cold, logical, ruthless scheming villain in the form of Julius Ceasar and finally a complete and total monster in the form of Alti.  If Alti had been another sympathetic villain then I think it would have just been a boring retread of Callisto, but the fact that she was far more evil helped her to stand out as a different and even greater threat in some ways.

Alti first appears in the “Adventures in the Sin Trade” two parter that opens season 4. Now sadly this episode drags terribly in lots of places. The story line about one of the amazons taking Xena’s power is pointless and has a stupid cop out ending. Also the story comes at the wrong point in the shows history.

After the climactic season 3 finale, fans were no doubt expecting to find out what happened with Hope and Dahak. It wasn’t wise to introduce a new villain and character in the middle of a huge long running story.

Fortunately however Claire makes a very strong debut as Alti and indeed her performance is really the saving grace of the story. Alti knew Xena in her evil warlord days and tempted her with promises of dark power. She was able to convince Xena to slaughter twelve Amazons in cold blood after which Alti took their blood and used it to trap their souls in the nothingness between our world and the Amazons afterlife, so that she could draw psychic energy from them.

She uses this psychic to increase her own supernatural powers which include the ability to make a person experience pain from their past just by looking at them.

Xena only defeats Alti by facing her in the spiritual realm and joining with the spirits of twelve Amazons though even here she is barely able to defeat her.

Alti makes a refreshing change from the usual types of female villains that we see on television who always have to be glamorous. Though Claire Stansfield is a very beautiful woman, the character of Alti is not meant to be appealing in any way.

She wears antlers covered in blood, speaks in a deep growly voice which was modelled on Miranda Richardson’s performance as Queen Mab in Merlin. She is anything but the usual seductive femme fatale that we are used to seeing. Claire gives the character real menace and she and Lucy Lawless play off of each other perfectly, with Lucy actually making Xena seem scared of Alti at times.

The most frightening moment in the whole episode is when we see how Alti cursed Xena’s child so that it never knows the love of either of its parents, a curse which as we know ultimately came true. The final fight between Alti and Xena is also visually stunning too.

Overall “Adventures in the Sin Trade” is a mixed bag. It feels like it should be a classic, as it introduces one of the most iconic villains in the shows history, has plenty of exciting and terrifying moments and Claire Stansfield is amazing, but overall the episode just doesn’t hold together that well.

If it had come at a later point and not been a two parter then I think it would be a classic, but its just too long and plodding to come in the middle of the Dahak story arc.

Fortunately Alt’s next appearance in “Between the Lines” is much better in fact I would rate it among the top 5 Xena episodes.

This story sees Xena and Gabrielle sent into the future to battle a great evil that threatens to trap the earth in eternal darkness. This is not any old method of time travel however. The two are reincarnated in the future as their future lives. Xena and Gabrielle soon discover that the evil they are sent to battle is in fact a reincarnated Alti. In this life Alti is now a powerful warrior as opposed to just some crazy shaman and has more influence to carry out her spells. Using her vast armies Alti slaughters hundreds and thousands of innocent men, women children and infants and traps their souls in a state of perpetual agony. She draws the psychic energy from them the way she did from the Amazon spirits to make herself stronger and gains the ability to draw energy from people’s fear and pain too.

Alti hopes to use this dark power to rule the world, but before she can claim it, Xena and Gabrielle manage to bring her backwards in time. Unfortunately even in the past Alti still still kicks their asses badly.

This is probably the worst beating Xena and Gabrielle endure in the entire series. Alti thrashes the both of them at the same time, breaks Xena’s legs. makes her own shakram cut her neck, beats Gabrielle with her own staff, and makes her feel the pain of her death by crucifiction.

Its such a harrowing moment as we see Xena and Gabrielle more helpless than ever before lying on the ground literally crying with pain whilst Alti laughs at them. Never before or again would any of Xena’s enemies tower over her to such an extent.

Though Xena and Gabrielle are able to destroy Alti, again it is only with help from the same person who sent them into the future who grants them both magical powers with which they use to destroy her. Xena is then told that Alti’s spirit can never die, but that Xena and Gabrielle will always be reincarnated to stop her. In a way this makes Alti Xena’s true archnemesis as whilst Callisto may have been her mortal foe in this life, Alti is her eternal nemesis in all of her lives.

Alti was originally intended to appear in the penultimate episode this season where it would be revealed that her soul had been sent to hell, and she had now made a deal with Satan to put Xena off of the path of redemption, so that Xena’s soul would take her place in hell instead.

Ultimately however it was later decided to feature Hudson Leick in this episode instead. This was definitely the right decision as we had already had three Alti episodes this season whilst Callisto had not appeared since the season 3 finale. Also I feel this episode needed a more sympathetic villain as well. With Callisto there is a sense of injustice of her being in hell whilst Xena who torched her family, ascends to heaven which obviously there would not be with Alti.

Alti would later return in season 5 in the episode “Them Bones Them Bones”.

This is another favourite of mine though I wouldn’t say that its as good as “Between the Lines” its still quite creepy in places. Alti’s ghost begins to attack Xena in her dreams and begins to steal the soul of Xena’s unborn baby, with Alti planning to replace the baby’s soul with her own so she can be reborn. Gabrielle attempts to fight Alti in the spirit realm, but she gets her ass kicked and is almost tortured to death by Alti.

Alti later succeeds in stealing Xena’s baby’s soul and threatens to send it to hell unless Xena helps her be reborn again. With no other options Xena along with the Amazons help brings Alti’s spirit back into her body now rotted away into nothing but a skeleton. Alti re emerges as a living skeleton and taunts Xena for being weak and actually eats her child’s soul.

Fortunately however it turns out that Xena went back on her word too, and merely dragged Alti into another dream world, Xena demonstrates this by ripping all of her skin off and becoming a living skeleton too. Skeleton Xena and Alti battle it out, and Xena once again assisted by the minds of all the Amazons that are joined together is able to defeat Alti and save her child.

Much like the previous two episodes the highlight of this story is once again the final fight between skeleton Alti and skeleton Xena. I think Xena’s confrontations with Alti were always the most fun because they were always the most unusual. In Sin Trade we had the both of them flying through the woods, in “Between the Lines” we had Xena and Gabrielle blasting her with magic rays, and here we have a battle between two Harryhausen style skeletons.

Another highlight from this episode is when Alti thrashes Gabrielle. Alti’s sadistic countdown of seconds Gabrielle has left to live is a great moment of villainy.

Alti would go on to appear in just two more episodes the following year. The first of these “Send in the Clones” is a modern day episode which sees a modern day reincarnation of Alti clone Xena and Gabrielle in an attempt to ruin Xena’s reputation by making the clone go evil.

Its a pretty stupid plan. As if anyone would think it was the real Xena anyway and on top of that Alti could have used her power to rule the world, but she brought back the one person who was destined to always beat her? Maybe her mad plan could have worked but only if she had cloned Xena herself. Why on earth did she bother cloning Gabrielle the one person who always stopped Xena from going evil too?

To be fair though this episode is essentially a parody, but still even at that its quite lame. I’d say this is my least favourite Alti episode. Alti is the only saving grace and Claire really gives it her all, but even here sadly she is let down by the script which makes Alti, Xena’s most vicious opponent into a complete and utter clown. Even the final fight between Alti and Xena whilst once again the best bit is still not anywhere near as good.

Not only does Xena beat Alti far too easily (this marks the only time that Xena beats Alti on her own in the entire series, but since its not canon I don’t count it) but the fight itself is just bog standard. Alti doesn’t use any of her powers against Xena.

Its like watching Xena fight Callisto. Isn’t the whole point of Alti that she has all of these weird magic powers?

Fortunately however Alti’s final episode in the series would prove to be one of the best the series ever produced. This episode see’s Julius Cesar rewrite history so that he never betrayed Xena. As a result he and Xena went on to rule the world and Alti ends up as their high priestess. Using her psychic powers Alti is able to discover the truth behind what Xena has done and pits Xena and Cesar against one another.  She lets Xena know of what has happened and then manipulates Cesar, fearful of Xena turning against him into letting her capture Xena.

Xena is tortured by Alti and Cesar and subsequently crucified. With Xena out of the way Alti then seduces Cesar and stabs him to death whilst they make love. I suppose even though it must have been gutting (literally) for Cesar to get betrayed again by someone close to him, look on the bright side. At least this time it was in the middle of sex with Claire Stansfield.

Having deposed both of the rulers of the Roman empire in gruesome ways. Alti appears to have won, but before she can begin her reign of terror, Gabrielle rewrites history and Alti is destroyed for good. This episode marks the only time Alti gets to meet another of Xena’s major enemies, Julius Cesar played by Karl Urban.

I think it was a shame we never got to see Alti meet Ares particularly as Claire Stansfield and the late Kevin Smith where such close friends. Alti and Callisto of course would have been the ultimate showdown of Xena’s major enemies. Still her interactions with Cesar are great as she plays on his vanity and paranoia.

Right from the start its obvious that Cesar is out of his depth in dealing with her yet his arrogance leads him to believe she is afraid of him. One thing I didn’t like about this episode however was the way Alti seduces Cesar.

This was apparently at the behest of Claire Stansfield herself. Claire had gotten tired of Alti being made to look unattractive in previous episodes with her character even being described as a “pathetic bag of bones” and an “old hag”. So for her final appearance Claire wanted the character to be sexy.

I think this was a mistake as like I said before I rather liked that about Alti that she was one of the few villains unlike say Servalan from Blake’s 7 or Darla from Angel who didn’t have to be a seductive, alluring femme fatale.  Even Callisto had seduced Ares earlier in the series. Also I don’t see any reason for Alti to seduce Cesar within the story itself. She was already clearly powerful enough to kill him anyway. Having said that though Alti stabbing him in bed was quite a nice parallel with Cesar’s dream from season 4, where Xena stabbed him in bed.

Whilst its sad we don’t get one big last Xena/Alti fight, the final moments where we see Xena, tortured, beaten and bloodied and dying on the cross whilst Alti laughs at her misfortune are truly chilling and Claire absolutely excels at it.

Alti not surprisingly was Claire’s favourite role. She would become a regular at Xena and sci fi and fantasy conventions around the world and became friends with many cast members including even those she did not appear in episodes with, such as Hudson Leick and Alexandra Tydings. Sadly despite the popularity of the Alti character it would be Claire’s last role before her retirement.

Retirement

Claire appeared in many tv shows and films throughout her career including a leading role opposite Dolph Lundgren in the movie Sweepers which saw her play the main heroine.

She also appeared in “Sensation” which saw her do a love scene with Eric Roberts. Its quite funny in a way to see Claire Stansfield, Xena’s archenemy Alti, and Eric Roberts who played the Doctor’s archenemy The Master hooking up.

Sadly however after Xena, Claire decided to retire from acting. Apparently she had never enjoyed it very much, having only taken it up to make money. She even said in an interview with the website Woosh that if she could do it all over again she would not become an actor. After leaving acting she set up C and C California a clothing line specialising in 1970’s style T-shirts. She later after selling the company in 2005 became an interior designer and has enjoyed a successful career. Indeed Claire doesn’t seem to be doing too badly at all these days.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEQQFjAG&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.onekingslane.com%2Flive-love-home%2Fat-home-with-claire-stansfield%2F&ei=Rk5KVID3AZCd7gaw8YCgAQ&usg=AFQjCNHlqFruzFF0gft2lyS-rlpgb9eR8w&sig2=5JKfgiVZ_lcA2Y-fpiREoQ

Whilst Claire did not enjoy acting she still appreciates her role in Xena and its fans and is still both a regular and a favourite at Xena conventions around the world. I hope that one day Claire comes out of retirement. Obviously there is no need for her too financially, but still I felt she was a very special talent and would have liked to see her play more roles.

Still even if she doesn’t, at the very least she will always be my favourite Xena villain and a much loved cult actress.

Thanks for reading

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Cult Actors 2 Simon Templeman

Simon Templeman is a British character actor who has enjoyed a very long career across many different mediums, stage, film, and television. Overall his greatest success by and large has been in the sci fi and fantasy genres.

Whether that’s as Larry Bird in the sci fi comedy “The Neighbours”, or as the Vampire Kain in the acclaimed “Legacy of Kain” video game series, or as the Angel of Death in “Charmed”, or even as Doctor Doom in the old 90’s “Fantastic Four” animated series. Templeman is most recognised for his genre roles.

Like many other character actors, Templeman’s largest and most prominent roles tend to be villainous. His rich, distinctive voice and tall imposing frame make him a natural choice for villains. Still despite his typecasting problem Templeman has managed to maintain a very steady career with arguably his greatest success being in the video game medium. Over the course of the past 20 years Templeman has practically become the go to guy for a video game villain.

Whilst he has never really been out of work throughout his entire career, I must admit I do feel that Templeman is somewhat underrated. I think he should get a chance to play a really big villainous role like a Bond villain.

Still he has already been given the chance to play a number of memorable, offbeat and often frightening genre roles and in this article we will be taking a look at the most prominent examples.

1/ Doctor Doom/ Fantastic Four/ The Incredible Hulk

One of Templeman’s most celebrated roles. Templeman played the Fantastic Fours archnemesis in just 3 episodes of the second season of the Fantastic Four animated series and two episodes of the Incredible Hulk animated series set within the same canon.

Neither series were a huge success when they first aired and in hindsight neither series is that fondly remembered. In all fairness to the Fantastic Four its second series overall was actually quite good, but it was just that its first series was so awful it never really recovered from it. However despite this Simon Templeman’s performance as Doctor Doom is still very fondly remembered by fans and critics alike to this day.

Templeman’s Doom is often looked on as the saving grace of the 90’s Fantastic Four cartoon by most people. The uploader and maker of this video below, a compilation of Templeman’s Dooms best moments has even said that he hates the 90’s Fantastic Four cartoon, but still feels this has been the best version of the character seen outside of the comic books to date.

Personally I wouldn’t say that Templeman is the only good thing about the second season the Fantastic Four. I think overall it was a good show, and had it been allowed to continue it could have actually become the definitive version of the Fantastic Four overall.

I do agree however that Templeman’s Doom was the best thing in the show by far and really at the end of the day he is the only reason that the show is still remembered at all.

Overall I would rank Templeman’s Doom among the top 5 90’s animated comic book villains, with the other 4 being Mark Hamill’s Joker, Clancy Brown’s Luthor, David Warner’s Ra’s Al Ghul and Michael Ironside’s Darkseid.

Templeman perfectly captured Doom’s arrogance, snobbishness and best of all his delightfully wicked, cruel sense of humour. Templeman’s grandiose delivery of flowery OTT lines like “Goodbye Fantastic Four time to join the choir invisible“, “I will now suck all the air out of the room and like the Martyr’s of Masada you may watch each other die” or best of all when he refers to Daredevil as a “primrose poppinjay” were all fabulous.

In his first appearance “And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them” Doom captures the Fantastic Four and places them on an island that is about to explode. The foursome survive thanks to Susan Storm creating a forcefield around the team, but unfortunately the blast still strips them of their powers. Ben Grimm is at first delighted to be an ordinary Joe again, but Doom soon tracks the former Fantastic Four down and tries to finish them off whilst they are weak.

Though Daredevil intervenes and tries to help, Doom manages to capture all of the four and prepares to kill the heroes. With no other hope Ben turns himself into the Thing again and in revenge for ruining his chance at a normal life, the Thing crushes Doom’s hands and nearly kills him.

This could be the best episode of the series. Its full of great moments and lines, but the definite highlight is when the Thing crushes Dooms hands. I remember this moment very vividly when I was younger. When you’re a child you believe anything can happen, and I did genuinely believe that The Thing was going to kill Doom. Obviously watching it back as an adult you know they would never do anything like that, but still even as an adult its quite shocking to watch Ben crush Dooms hands and break every one of his fingers.

I often find it is more effective to have the hero do something horrible to the villain. When the villain does something horrible to the hero you expect it, but when the hero snaps and completely loses it at the villain those are the moments you really don’t expect.

You remember the ninth Doctor trying to shoot the helpless Dalek more than you remember the Daleks million times trying to shoot the Doctor. You remember Robin shooting the Joker in “Batman Beyond Return of the Joker” more than the Jokers dozens of times trying to shoot Batman, and you remember the Thing screaming at Doom that he is going pay whilst slowly crushing his hands.

This scene does what the entire first season didn’t and it treats the characters of Doom and The Thing with the respect they are due. In season 1 both characters were treated as jokes. Doom in particular was a laughable character with a poor design and flat characterisation. Though he was voiced by John Vernon a very talented actor, overall the character was hard to take seriously as the FF’s greatest enemy. In this scene however we see how Doom not only comes closest to killing them, but also how he is the only villain who is able to push the team to the point where one of them was almost willing to commit an act of cold blooded murder.

It also shows us at the same time how The Thing is not a character to be taken lightly as when enraged he is virtually unstoppable, as all of Doom’s tricks and gadgets fail to even slow him down. Templeman plays this scene perfectly showing us how arrogant Doom is at first that he is almost annoyed someone like the Thing, who he considers totally beneath him would even attempt to challenge him.

Later however when Doom’s most powerful attacks fail to even slow The Thing down, Templeman is equally superb at injecting a real sense of fear into Doom.

Templeman wisely however doesn’t overdo Doom’s fear as Doom is someone who would be too vain to ever, even in this situation show how scared he was. Doom doesn’t grovel and beg. He barely even screams, but you can still hear him a real panic in his voice when the Thing lunges at him in fury.

This episode also shows how the writers of the second series unlike the writers of the first series actually tried to develop the characters, as after this episode Doom becomes obsessed with The Thing more than any other member of the Fantastic Four. Prior to the Thing crushing his hands, it was Reed Richards who was his main enemy. The others were just an irrelevance and though he still looks on Richards as his main rival, the one who he actually wishes to hurt the most from this point on is The Thing, as he was the only one of the four who brought Doom to his knees.

In his next appearance for instance we see Doom take great pleasure in watching the Hulk pummel the Thing.

In his final appearance, after Doom has stolen the Silver Surfers cosmic powers, Ben is the first member of the four he goes after. Doom even mentions Grimm crushing his hands “feel the limitless power in these very hands which you once nearly crushed“. He also tortures Ben horribly by locking him inside his body “feel it Ben feel your bodies metabolism get slower and slower until you become nothing more than a living statue unable to move, unable to speak for the rest of your days, please do keep an eye out for pigeons.

Its hard to say whether or not “And A Bind Man Shall Lead Them” is the best episode or Doom’s final appearance “Doomsday” is. At the very least  Templeman made a very strong debut with this episode.

In his next appearance “Nightmare in Green” Doom is able to trick the Hulk into attacking the Fantastic Four by convincing them that they have stolen his only friend, Rick. The Hulk nearly kills the Fantastic Four, until Rick is able to convince Hulk who Doom really is. (In hindsight even the Hulk should have known not to trust a guy called Doctor Doom!)

This episode definitely isn’t as strong, but its still enjoyable none the less. As in the comics the Thing doesn’t stand a chance against the Hulk, and as I mentioned before its quite nice that they have Doom be so petty in taking pleasure in watching the Thing be reduced to being so helpless.

Templeman also gets to deliver possibly his best line in the entire series when he witnesses the apparent violent death of the Thing at the Hulk’s hands and states “such a tragic tableau worthy of Shakespeare, Rabeleis or DOCTOR DOOM!“. Then there is also his memorable casual dismissal of Alicia, Ben’s girlfriends grief over his apparent death “You’ve done well friend destroying the loathsome thing as I knew you would” ” but Hulk make girl cry”, “she’ll get over it“. Overall a great episode that did a nice job of setting up the Hulk/Doom rivalry that would carry on into the later Hulk series.

“Doomsday” is the good Doctors final appearance in the series and fortunately it just might be his best. In this episode Doom steals the Silver Surfers cosmic powers and uses them to try and overthrow the earth. Now the first series had actually adapted this storyline from the comics already, however the producers of the second season decided just to do it again, as they felt such a classic story deserved to be done properly. A reference is still made to Doom stealing the Surfers powers before, showing that they were still trying to keep continuity with the older series at least.

Unlike the previous season 1 episode, which merely had Doom use his cosmic powers to knock a few planes out of the sky, here Doom uses them to first torture Ben, humble the Fantastic Four and completely and utterly thrash all of earth’s greatest heroes; including the Avengers and the X-Men whose jet he turns to stone.

He also brings evil gargoyles to life, raises the oceans floors, creates snow storms, blocks out the sun and carves himself into the statue of liberty before telling all of the worlds leaders that they have one week to surrender to him, or he will kill them all.

What’s really great about this episode however is the way it handles Dooms character. The vast majority of depictions of Doom portray him as simply being a psychopath who wants to conquer the world for no other reason other than because he is a psychopath. In the comics however Doom is someone who wishes to rule the world because he believes that he can make it a better place. Ironically Doom wants to help people. In the few what if scenarios where we see Doom does manage to rule the world, he is actually able to make it a better place in some ways.

With his vast intellect he is able to cure diseases modern science can not, he is able eliminate prejudices and inequalities and allow people to live longer, happier lives.

However at the same time he removes people’s basic freedom as he takes absolute control of every aspect of their lives and makes them his slaves. Whilst Doom is a tyrant no matter what, the Fantastic Four’s battle’s against him aren’t just a simple case of good versus evil.

Doom is someone who could actually be a great force of good in the world where it not for his extreme vanity. To date the Simon Templeman interpretation is the only version of the character I have seen that has captured this element of his persona.

When Doom says after acquiring the Surfers powers “ I now posses the power to end hunger, to eliminate crime, to abolish disease to create a perfectly content, perfectly ordered world all under the benevolence of my IRON WILL!” this sums up his character perfectly and Templeman delivers this line with such passion that you almost can’t help but be won over by Doom. Unfortunately this was not only Doom’s last appearance in the series, but also the last episode of the series .

Templeman would go on to reprise his role in just two episodes of the Incredible Hulk animated series. Neither one of these episodes were as strong as his Fantastic Four episodes, but the first one was still lots of fun. It sees Doom capture the Hulk’s cousin Jennifer Walters and use her to force the Hulk to try and assassinate the president of the United States for him.

Unfortunately for Doom, Jennifer is wounded in his attempt to capture her and Banner gives her a blood transfusion which causes Jennifer to change into the She Hulk. Together both She Hulk and the Hulk thrash Doom and foil his plans. Templeman is on top form as ever and gets to deliver some great lines such as telling the Hulk he has a “very left brain personality” or calling the American president ” a posturing corn fed commoner“. However this episode is probably most memorable for She Hulk’s rather sexualized transformation scene

Doom’s next appearance in the second season was sadly his weakest yet. Templeman is just as good as ever, but Doom is reduced to just a boring, one note character and worse his design is terrible too.

For some reason they make his mouth move in sync with his voice. For Templeman’s Doom to end on this note was rather sad, but still overall I think he gave us the best version of the character.

Templeman had been a big comic book fan growing up and said that his favourite superhero had been the Hulk, who he as a scruffy teenager could identify with. Hopefully Templeman will get a chance to play Doctor Doom again. I’d be happy to see him play the role in anything, another animated series, video game etc. More people need to see Templeman in action as Marvels most iconic villain.

John Bates/ Star Trek The Next Generation

There’s not really much to say about this performance it was a relatively minor one, though Templeman did make the most of it. This only really deserves a mention as it does mark an appearance in one the most iconic science fiction series, but other than that sadly Templeman was wasted in this role.

Trevor Noseworthy 4/ James Bond JR

A more comical character Trevor is a snobbish, pompous, uptight spoiled brat who was jealous of the main character James Bond JR and constantly sought to humiliate him only for his numerous petty little schemes to backfire rather badly. Though not Templeman’s most memorable character, I think it nevertheless demonstrated his comedic side more than many of the other sinister characters he was to play throughout his long career.

Matthias Pavayne/ Angel

One of Templeman’s most frightening characters, Pavayne appeared in the Angel episode “Hellbound”. In his single episode Pavayne attempted to drag the Vampire Spike’s soul to hell. Pavayne in life had been an evil witch doctor who enjoyed torturing and killing innocent people. After his murder, Pavayne’s ghost haunted Wolfram and Hart where he would send the ghosts of other people, (after having had his “fun” with them) to hell to prevent himself from going. Pavayne spends most of the episode hiding in the shadows taunting Spike.

However when Pavayne finally does appear he lives up to the build up. Templeman plays him in an almost detached, indifferent way when he is torturing Spike which just makes him all the more sinister. He has gotten so used to torturing people that he is almost bored of it, but still tortures Spike anyway because he doesn’t know how to do anything else.

Definitely one of the most chilling moments is when Pavayne talks of having his fun with Winifred Burkle which provokes Spike to attack him more than his torture of Spike himself did.

Despite being one of the Buffy franchise’s most ghastly villains, one can still not help but be horrified at Pavayne’s fate. Pavayne is turned back into a human being when Spike pushes him into a machine that Fred had constructed in order to turn Spike back into a human. Pavayne not wanting Spike to escape threatens Fred’s life making Spike choose between the “girl and the flesh“. Pavayne believes that Spike will abandon Fred to save his own skin, which proves to be his undoing. I like the fact that Pavayne can’t comprehend the idea of someone caring about anything but themselves.

Spike catches Pavayne by surprise and knocks him into the machine instead rendering him a human and thus vulnerable. Angel subsequently in order to prevent Pavayne from becoming a ghost again locks him in a special container that will keep Pavayne alive, but render him unable to move, speak or interact with the world around him, yet remain completely aware.

Ironically this is exactly the same fate Templeman’s Doctor Doom tried to condemn Ben Grimm too.  You definitely do not have any sympathy for Pavayne who finally goes to the “hell” he so richly deserves, and that he sent so many others too for centuries. Still you can’t help but be disturbed at what happens to him.

Overall this was a great episode. A frightening and disturbing story that really built up a great atmosphere, but what elevates it to one of the greats is Templeman’s truly bone chilling performance. He brings Pavayne to life superbly and remains one of the shows most memorable guest stars.

Do keep an eye out for pigeons.

The Angel of Death/ Charmed

Ironically this is one of Templeman’s most sympathetic characters.

The Angel of Death is portrayed in Charmed much like Death is in Supernatural. He is neither good nor evil. He merely maintains the natural order. He is not a conflicted character, and has no reservations about anyone’s time being up no matter how unfair it may seem to us, yet at the same time he does not seem a cruel, unfair or unjust character either. He feels more like something that is so above human beings, demons and white lighters that nothing we do matters to him.

In spite of his ruthless, no nonsense attitude, the Angel grows to develop something of a bond with the Charmed ones, simply because they are the only beings he has ever encountered more than once. Simone Templeman appeared in just 3 episodes, though the Angel of Death also appeared in a 4th, where he assumed another appearance as Simon Templeman wasn’t available. Despite this however he remains one of the shows most memorable and popular supporting characters and prior to the Neighbours was probably the live action role that Templeman was most recognised for.

My favourite scene with the Angel is when he calmly tells Prue Halliwell “don’t worry, its not your time. Not yet” which was an eerie foreshadowing of her death later that season.

Lord Nor/ Lois and Clark

Lord Nor who appeared in just two episodes of Lois and Clark was actually the shows version of iconic Superman villain General Zod.

Like Zod he is a Kryptonian who survived the planets destruction and ultimately seeks to lead his people to conquer other races. Its not the most well developed character and to be honest I much prefer his Doctor Doom. Still overall this was an enjoyable episode and a great performance from Templeman as another iconic comic book villain.

Kain/ Legacy of Kain Series

Templeman’s most famous voice work, the Kain series was arguably Templeman’s breakthrough role as a voice actor. Kain is an ancient Vampire and the main character in the series which has to date produced 5 games, though in one game “Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver” he served as the main villain. Kain is much more than just a villain or a hero however. He is a very morally grey character, though to be fair everyone in the series is.

The character of Kain was met with universal praise from fans and critics alike and “The Legacy of Kain” video game series overall was a massive commercial success too. Though there have been no new entries released since 2003, the games still remain very popular. Templeman has repeatedly said that he would be perfectly happy to reprise his most iconic role, however he also sadly revealed that there are currently no plans for him to do so.

Loghain Mac Tir/ Dragon Age

One of Templeman’s most high profile voice over roles, Loghain is not surprisingly yet another villain, but he is portrayed as a much more sympathetic and tragic character than a lot of Templeman’s other villainous roles.

Indeed there are some fans who argue that he is not technically a villain either. I personally however would disagree, and if anything argue that he is Templeman’s most destructive villain being responsible for the deaths of more people than Doctor Doom and Pavayne combined.

Still Templeman is able to inject a real gravitas into the character in certain moments such as in his relationship with his daughter, the way he faces his death with dignity (if the player chooses to kill him), and his heroic sacrifice (if they choose to spare him.) Loghain a more than just a villain. He is a character does some utterly despicable things, yet sometimes is actually able to justify his actions to the players amazement.

Jacob Danik/ Dead Space 3

Yet another villainous video game role, Jacob is a fanatic who believes he is creating a better world and helping humanity ascend to its next level, somewhat like Doctor Doom. Templeman’s performance is definitely one of the highlights of the game overall. One of the cool things about this character is that he is modelled on Templeman physically. Like a lot of Templeman’s villains, Jacob is a very grandiose character who is somewhat fond of making big speeches.

Larry Bird/ The Neighbours

Templeman’s most high profile role to date as Larry Bird, father of a group of aliens stranded on earth and a leading character in the science fiction comedy series the Neighbours, is also unlike any other character he has played. Larry is arguably Templeman’s greatest performance as it has allowed him an opportunity to do things he never could do before such as showing off his more comedic side and even his wonderful singing voice. Seriously!

The concept for the Neighbours wasn’t particularly original. The idea of aliens coming to live ordinary lives among us has been done many times before such as in Coneheads and Third Rock From the Sun, but it didn’t matter as the show more than made up for it with its wonderful characters and crazy offbeat humour.

I think part of the reason Larry stands out as possibly Templeman’s best performance was because of the way he really threw himself into the role more than any other. It was his favourite character for many reasons. First of all it finally gave him a chance to do comedy which had been one of the few things he hadn’t done in his long career.

Also Templeman felt he could relate to Larry’s situation as much like Larry, when Templeman an Englishman first moved to America, he too was a stranger in a strange land. Templeman’s enthusiasm for the character of Larry Bird truly shines through in his performance and helps to make the character even more likable.

Sadly the Neighbours was cancelled after just two seasons, however at the very least the show has secured a devoted cult following and with Larry, Templeman managed to create a truly memorable comedic character.

Other genre roles

Templeman has played minor roles in many other sci fi and fantasy franchises including in Final Fantasy 12 as Judge Zargabaath, God of War 3 as Peirithous, Kai Lan the serpent in Jade Empire, as well as characters in video games based upon the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings franchises and Gabriel Roman a major villain in the Uncharted video game franchise.

I do feel Templeman is somewhat underrated, but at the very least his many sci fi and fantasy roles such as Kain and Loghain have given him a very strong and dedicated fanbase.

Cult Actors 1 Michael Wisher

This article is the first in a new series where I will be looking at actors who are best known for starring in genre series and films.

In order to qualify for this series, an actors most famous roles have to largely have been in cult things. For instance Richard Attenborough though appearing in one of the most iconic genre and cult films, Jurassic Park, wouldn’t really qualify as a cult actor as his career consisted of mostly mainstream film and television series.

Tom Baker on the other hand would be not just because he played the Doctor, but also because many of his other most famous roles were in horror movies, or classic British comedies like Blackadder, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad etc.

This series will try and look at a wide range of actors from various different backgrounds. From big Hollywood stars, to voice actors, to stars of classic, cheap British Sci Fi series.

The first cult actor I will be looking at is Michael Wisher. Wisher is known primarily for his roles in one genre series “Doctor Who”. His roles in this series were mostly small, but he nevertheless managed to endear himself to genre fans forever with his performance as the deranged and evil creator of the Daleks, Davros.

He only played Davros once, but to this day his performance is still usually regarded as the definitive take on the character

Wisher to me seems like the perfect choice to start, as he never really became that big a name even to genre fans. Still he nevertheless managed to give some of the most iconic performances on the history of television.

Michael Wisher was born on the 19th May in 1935. He had many roles on television including in “Dixon of Dock Green”, “Z Cars” and the genre series “Moonbase 3”. He also had an extensive theatre career too and was a very in demand actor until his death in 1995. However it would for his work in “Doctor Who” that he would be most remembered.

Genre/Doctor Who Roles

 

1/ Reporter/The Ambassadors of Death

 

Wishers first on screen credited role. Prior to this adventure he had provided a small voice over for the second Doctor story “The Space Pirates”. There is not really much to say about this performance. Wisher doesn’t get a lot to do he is on screen for all of two minutes and is basically wasted in the role. Still this does mark his official Doctor Who debut none the less.

2/ Rex Farrell/ Terror of the Autons 

Wisher’s first prominent Who role was as the villain Rex Farrell in “Terror of the Autons” Rex was the Master played by Roger Delgado’s sidekick. He didn’t have a lot to do in the story with arguably his biggest role being taking the Masters place when UNIT try and shoot down the Master. Still Wisher made the most of this character and he and Delgado play off of one another quite well.  Farrell is not really a villain as the entire time he is mind controlled by the Master. His death therefore is actually one of the more tragic moments of the story. He joins the sadly long list of people the Doctor failed to save from the Master.

3/ Kalik/ Carnival of Monsters

The character of Kalik served as the main villain in the Robert Holmes classic “Carnival of Monsters”. He was a somewhat more comical villain however, as he is ultimately killed by the very plan he hopes to use the overthrow his brother. Still Wisher brings the character to life in a very memorable way, managing to capture the humorous elements of the character such as his snobbishness and prissiness, as well as his darker qualities such as the opening scene where he casually guns down a dissident worker in cold blood.

4/ Voice of the Daleks/ Frontier in Space/ Planet of the Daleks/ Death to the Daleks/ Genesis of the Daleks

Michael Wisher voiced the Doctors greatest enemies in four stories. “Frontier in Space”,  “The Planet of the Daleks”, “Death to the Daleks” and “Genesis of the Daleks” though he also voiced them in episodes of “blue peter” and the 30th anniversary documentary “More than 30 years in the TARDIS”.  Wisher was the 6th actor to play the monsters and though not quite as menacing as Peter Hawkins, Roy Skelton or later Nicholas Briggs, I still think Michael’s Dalek voices were quite effective in their own way.

His voices lacked the strange rhythmic qualities of Peter Hawkins or the fierce, harsh, rasping tones of Roy Skelton. Instead Wisher’s Dalek voices captured the hysteria of the monsters better than anyone else as evidenced by the famous scene in “Death to the Daleks” where one of the pepperpots kills itself simply because it has failed to guard Sarah Jane the Doctors companions properly “HUMAN FEMALE HAS ESCAPED, SELF DESTRUCT I HAVE FAILED, SELF DESTRUCT I HAVE FAILED, SELF DESTRUCT I HAVE FAILED, SELF DESTRUCT I HAVE FAIIIIIILLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH”

Nicholas Briggs the current voice of the Daleks, a close personal friend of Michael Wisher has said that the dying Dalek was always one of Wishers favourite moments and he would enjoy acting it out for fans. I think Wisher has had an influence on Brigg’s portrayal of the Daleks to an extent.  Briggs I think is probably the best Dalek voice artist for me as he is able to combine the aspects of all the previous Dalek voice actors together. In a new Who Dalek story you will typically see one Dalek who is the leader who will have more of a Peter Hawkins vibe to his voice, then there will be the lowly grunt who will have more of a David Graham quality, then there will the soldier who is desperate to kill everything that moves and is fanatical even by Dalek standards and he will be the Roy Skelton Dalek. Finally there is the scared, hysterical Dalek who is in a constant state of panic and can’t stand anything going wrong at all, he is the Michael Wisher Dalek.

5/Davros/ Genesis of the Daleks

This was Wishers greatest performance and indeed one of the greatest performances of anyone in Doctor Who. Its up their with the best performance of any actor in the role of the Doctor.

The fact that Wisher had experience providing Dalek voices I think helped him find the right balance in Davros’s voice. At times when he was hysterical such as when is demanding the Doctor tell him the reason for every Dalek defeat, Davros can sound almost like one of his creations, but it was never too much however and indeed some of the most chilling moments of Michaels performance are when Davros speaks in a more calm, quiet voice such as when he talks of experimenting on Gharman’s brain. Davros in “Genesis of the Daleks” is a much more fleshed out character than he is in later stories thanks to both Terry Nations strong script and Wisher’s performance.

Wisher is able to bring so many different sides to the villains character. On the surface Davros is the ultimate Who monster. He is evil incarnate, a man who commits double genocide on the Thals and his own people the Kaleds, who casually murders hundreds of innocent scientists and who is revealed to have delusions of tearing down all of creation itself. The famous phial scene where the Doctor asks Davros if he would use a virus capable of destroying all life, to which Davros responds that that power would set him “up above the gods” and that through his creations the Daleks “I shall HAVE THAT POWER!” is arguably the defining moment of Davros’s character.

Prior to this Davros had attempted to present himself as someone who was just desperate to see his race survive. As his race are destined to mutate into frail creatures, he believes he needs to make any sacrifice to ensure that these creatures can go on and programs them to be aggressive because he believes that is the only way they can survive due to their vulnerability. He also at one point tries to justify the Daleks need to conquer by claiming that one race needs to rule the others, as the master race can help the other races by showing them how to better themselves. He even claims that under the Daleks rule wars and persecution will end, and that they will rule benevolently. “Evil? no I will not accept that when the Daleks have suppressed all other life forms, when they are the masters, then you will have peace, they are not a force for evil, but for good”.

The Doctor however see’s through this and exposes Davros’s true character by asking the phial question.

Davors’ excitement at the Doctors hypothetical idea of ending all live, reveals that all he wishes to do is destroy, because it gives a weak pathetic little man like him a perverse sense of satisfaction. The creation of the Daleks is really all just to do with Davros’s own personal glory no matter how hard he tries to dress it up in being for the future of the Kaleds, or even the sake of the universe itself.

This is further evidenced when he says to the disloyal Kaled Scientists “We, I WILL GO ON” The fact that Davros creates the Daleks almost in his own twisted image also reinforces this.

Some men just want to watch the world, nay the universe burn!

However despite this Wisher is incredibly enough able to inject some sympathy into Davros’s character too. The final scene where the Daleks turn on Davros is actually my favourite moment in the entire history of “Doctor Who”. Davros finds himself ironically begging the Daleks to show pity on his loyal Kaled Scientists. The Daleks however can’t as they don’t know what pity is literally, as Davros removed it from them. Here even Davros realizes what a monster he has created. Before he had looked on pity as a weakness that had to be removed, but now he see’s that a creature without pity is truly uncontrollable and that even he, as ruthless and cruel as he is, is still capable of some acts of compassion whilst the Daleks simply are not.

One can’t help but feel almost sorry for him as he attempts to place his withered hand on the Daleks self destruct button finally realizing how wrong he has been and how all the sacrifices have been for nothing, only to be gunned down by his own creations who don’t show any emotion as they kill him. They don’t even view it as a triumph of killing their creator. To them killing Davros is no different to killing a Thal grunt.

Also once again we see see how Davros unlike the Daleks is capable of some compassion as he hesitates to place his hand on the button and destroy his life’s work, whilst the Daleks have no hesitation is shooting him at all. Davros’s ear piercing scream is truly horrifying to listen to

Davros was truly the height of Wisher’s career, not just in Doctor Who, but overall. He never again sadly got to play a role as large as this, but fortunately Davros was enough for him to always be remembered. “Genesis of the Daleks” has gone down as one of the all time greatest Doctor Who stories and is in fact the most repeated Classic Who story of all time. Davros meanwhile has also gone down as one of the most iconic Who villains of all time as well.

He would return many times (in every Dalek story in Classic Who in fact from this point on.) Sadly however Wisher would never get a chance to reprise his role. The producers did approach Wisher for both “Destiny of the Daleks” and “Resurrection of the Daleks” but he was unavailable both times. He did get to reprise the role on stage however in the play “The Trial of Davros” where he got to act alongside Peter Miles who had played Nyder in Genesis.

Still despite only playing the role of Davros once, most Whovians still regard him as the best Davros and indeed Tom Baker himself has said that he considers Michael Wishers Davros to have been the best villain his Doctor encountered.

Wisher’s performance as Davros had to rely entirely on his voice much like many other who villains from that era such as Gabriel Woof’s Sutekh and Michael Spice’s Morbius. He even practised with a paper bag over his head. It says a lot about Wisher and these other actors such as Gabriel Woof that they were able to create such memorable villains through their voices alone.

6/ Magrik/ Revenge of the Cybermen

Wisher’s next Who role was in “Revenge of the Cybermen”. Sadly the role was not that great a one, with Wisher’s character being a mere sidekick to the main villain of the story aside from the Cybermen themselves, Vorus. There’s not much to say about this character though Wisher is as good as ever. Its worth noting that this was not Wisher’s only role in the story. He also played a Vogan who is shot dead at the start and also provided an uncredited voice over. This story was actually shot before “Genesis of the Daleks” though it aired afterwards so these roles actually technically predated his performance as Davros.

7/ Morelli/ Planet of Evil

Wisher’s final Doctor Who role sadly was another minor character. On the plus side its arguably his most elaborate, over the top death, but still its a very small thankless role. Its a shame that after his success as Davros he never got another major Who role. I would have thought considering the success of Genesis, that Hinchcliff and Holmes at least would have had plenty of more characters for him.

Spinoff Who material

Throughout the late 80’s and early to mid 90’s Wisher would play a number of roles in Doctor Who spin off material including in the Audio Visual series (precursors to Big Finish which featured much of the same cast and crew including Nicholas Briggs) as well as the video “Wartime” where played Seargent Benton’s father. His final role was as an evil theatre commisionar in “Dalekmania” a documentary about the tow Cushing Dalek movies. He passed away in 1995 and is survived by his son Andrew Wisher who is also an actor. Rather touchingly Wisher was eulogized in the documentary “I was a Doctor Who Monster” which stated “To Michael Wisher a man among monsters.”