ByKevin Shields, writer at
Irish film reviewer and creator of Cracked-Reel ( - Avid film watcher, writer and ranter. 100% uncensored.
Kevin Shields

When you think of your favourite actors, you think of their most popular roles where they're your heroes or quirky, funny & likable characters. But you will no doubt skip over the movies where they play Neo-Nazis, drug addicts, rapists and serial killers! Here's a list of popular actors you know and (in some cases) love who have done movies where they're either playing terrible people or just doing terrible things.

Our first culprit is:

Marlon Wayans

You remember him as the fan-favourite, constantly stoned, Shorty in the Scary Movie franchise.

But did you know he played a serious heroin addict in the immensely depressing and incredible drama, Requiem For A Dream?

It's quite literally the most unfunny film he's ever taken on (even more so than A Haunted House). He's incredible in this, it's a shame he never stuck with drama... But it's rough seeing him let his life slip away into the gutters because of heroin and feeling like he's letting down his mother that seemingly raised him right.

Brad Pitt

You remember him as the ultra cool and often hilarious, Tyler Durden in Fight Club.

But did you know he played a volatile redneck serial killer in Kalifornia?

As Early Grayce he showed us his darkest side by slashing people up in bathroom stalls and murdering cops likes it was nothing. All while hiding undercover as a journalist so nobody can suspect anything. One of my favourite films of his and it is quite underrated. He's a complete lunatic in this!

Michael Gambon

You remember him as the lovable professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series.

But did you know he played a sadistically evil and abusive husband in the visually astounding, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover?

He treats every single person in his path like absolute dog shit... and sometimes FORCE FEEDS dog shit to people that annoy him. As well as stabbing women in the face with forks, slicing off children's belly buttons and nipples, force feeding people blunt objects 'til they die and believe it or not, much, much worse... he is a truly detestable piece of shit in this film. Hard to believe he went on to become a fan-favourite in a children's film.

Ryan Gosling

You know him as the ultra slick and cool, Driver from modern masterpiece, Drive. (More so from The Notebook but there's no way I'm NOT including Drive here).

But did you know he played a violent teenage Neo-Nazi in The Believer?

Despite being Jewish himself in the film, he lost his way and now preys on the Jews of New York. He goes to a Neo-Nazi training camp where they fire automatic weapons at INSANELY racist and crude cartoon pictures of Jewish people and the raw drama opens up with him brutally assaulting a Jewish teenager in the street for absolutely no reason other than the fact he's an absolute scumbag. One of his best and most under seen roles of his career.

Keeping in the theme of skinheads, our next lovable gent is:

Tim Roth

You remember him as Mr. Orange from Reservoir Dogs and more recently from the TV series, Lie To Me.

As you probably guessed from above, he too played an angry teenage skinhead in Alan Clarke's gritty TV movie, Made In Britain

He plays the hate-filled and thrill seeking Trevor who despite being given numerous chances to turn his life around and become a functioning member of society; decides to throw it away with violence and unflinching racism and trouble making. It's not often you see Tim Roth stealing cars and hurling racist abuse. One of the three important and career defining British dramas from Alan Clarke. The other two being the brutal and shocking prison drama, Scum, starring Ray Winstone and the incredibly realistic football hooligan drama, The Firm, starring Gary Oldman.

The same again but unlike the last two, our skinhead here is 100% irredeemable!

Russell Crowe

You remember him as the lovable, vengeance seeking gladiator, Maximus in the epic Gladiator.

But as you probably guessed, he plays the most despicable, bloodthirsty skinhead of them all, Hando, in the dark Aussie drama, Romper Stomper.

He is absolutely full throttle in this. With Ryan Gosling and Tim Roth; they at least questioned their actions at some point. He literally didn't give a single fuck throughout this. Non-stop racial brutality. Him and his gang, at his behest, viciously assault two Vietnamese teenagers in a tunnel while hurling a torrent of horrendous racial abuse at them, all in the name of their own sick fun. One of his most shocking moments for me is after robbing a petrol station, they could leave with no problems but his twisted mind thought it'd be a good idea to strangle the Asian shopkeeper to death with a chain. That truly fucked me up as a kid!

William H. Macy

You remember him as the alcoholic anti-hero Frank Gallagher in the US remake of the popular terrible TV series, Shameless.

But did you know he played a hot-headed, sexually repressed maniac in Edmond?

It's weird to see him finally take out his anger on somebody in a film! It seems he's always taking shit from people and you always feel bad for him but in this, you don't feel at all bad because he's such an unlikable dick as it is. But with that, he lets out his rage. Trawling the streets looking for sex of any kind after leaving his wife on the spot. Slashing up pimps and murdering women. He just really isn't the same lovable goon we always enjoy in other movies. In this he's a horrible bastard. The film itself is garbage which is a shame given the cast and writer but they can't all be winners.

Billy Connolly

You remember him as the hilariously silly storytelling comedian, HIMSELF!

But did you know he played a ruthlessly vicious debt collector seeking vengeance in The Debt Collector?

It's hard to believe he played such a vicious and venomous character, though a majority of his heinous crimes are committed years before we see him in the film as a potentially changed man, the descriptions you get of what he does and the aftermaths caused by his actions are insane. As well as inspiring an impressionable young teen into committing gruesome assaults and crimes of his own. Every other film he's been in, no matter how serious, he's had a quirk to him. He is a million miles away from humour in this tremendously bleak drama.

Jeff Goldblum

You remember him as the memorable Dr. Ian Malcolm in the groundbreaking adventure movie, Jurassic Park.

But did you know his VERY FIRST film role was that of a gang-rapist in Death Wish?

In what is without a doubt his most controversial role of all time as Freak #1, he brutally assaults and rapes a woman and her daughter in front of her helpless husband with the help of his freak friends and continues on to beat the wife to death all while spewing the most hateful shit of all time at them. I can't imagine this is one he told his kids about growing up... It's not often scummy characters like this go on to something likable and successful!

Ben Stiller

You remember him in probably his most famous role as bumbling idiot male-super model, Derek Zoolander in... well... Zoolander.

But did you know the same year he was in There's Something About Mary, he played Jerry Stahl, a heroin addict in the true story, Permanent Midnight?

Though the film itself is more of a dark comedy than straight up drama, it's supremely grim throughout and very out of character for him. Scenes of him losing his mind, being carried around by his girlfriend, spraying needle blood all over bathroom ceilings and even desperately shooting up in front of his own baby, just give a taste of how rough he is in this. He still does the occasional drama now-a-days but he's usually some quirky character, nothing as low down as this! And the fact it's a true story makes it even more grim.

Viggo Mortensen

You remember him as Aragorn from The Lord of The Rings Trilogy.

But did you know he played the murderous cannibalistic brother of Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III?

Though good ol' Viggo has gone on to do some dark roles, none of them are as psychopathic as the aptly named, Tex. Cutting people up and making meals out of them! Nailing people to chairs, hanging them from hooks and generally just being a horrible fuck! It's a truly trashy movie but it's HIGHLY enjoyable. Especially with the always likable, Ken Foree.

John. C. McGinley

You remember him as the hilariously quirky and frequently frustrated, Dr. Cox from the (once) fantastic TV series, Scrubs.

But did you know he played a maniacal serial killer and kidnapper in the Dean Koontz TV-movie adaptation, Intensity?

It was somewhat surreal seeing him play a psycho killer. Even in Identity, a movie about serial killers he played the most normal nice man you could ever meet. Which seemed so out of place to me after seeing him in Scrubs! This is probably his most forgotten role as it's a criminally unheard of film of the 90's. I think he played a bad guy in a Steven Segal film too but not of this level of madness. I'd be eager to see him revisit this kind of role because he's built like a brick shit house and is a good menacing psycho!

Michael Rooker

You remember him as the racist, red-neck zombie killer you love to hate and hate to love, Merle Dixon in the rapidly declining zombie drama, The Walking Dead.

But did you know he played an unrelentingly savage serial killer in Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer?

It's not often you hear of a film so grim that it delays it's release for 5 years, but this is one of them! In The Walking Dead he has his flaws and there is some reason to him, but as Henry, he will quite literally maim anyone for any reason. The biggest of which being the fact he's a fucking nut-job. The first few kills in this film are just the aftermaths and they're supremely disturbing. Probably the most disturbing scene of all involves him and his impressionable friend, Otis watching camcorder footage of themselves killing an entire family in their own house. Absolutely chilling. Makes Merle seem like a saint!

Kiefer Sutherland

You remember him as the ass-kicking, unstoppable and heroic Jack Bauer in the tense real time TV thriller, 24.

But did you know he played the disgustingly perverse child molesting, child murdering, child porn magazine collecting, paedophile, rapist in Little Red Riding Hood adaptation, Freeway? (It's not often you type that sentence).

He is truly a sleazy bastard in this film. The 90's really was his decade of scumbaggery as a ruthless killer in his directorial debut, Truth or Consequences NM and as a rapist murderer in revenge thriller, Eye For An Eye, but this one sticks out the most for me. As you can see there is many films of him being a mentalist but it's due to the fact he disappeared for so long after and was pretty much reborn as Jack Bauer that for some people this will be a shocker! His dialogue was so perverse and horrifying that a whole chunk of it was actually snipped from the final film. I really hope it's reinserted at some stage but even what was there was rough!

Mark Wahlberg

You remember him as the harmless, good natured bus-boy turned porn star, Eddie Adams AKA, Dirk Diggler, in the immaculate Boogie Nights.

But did you know he played a determined, aggressive psychopath in Fear?

Though the film itself is probably one of the finest ideas for a film with the most disappointing execution, there's no denying his performance was absolutely insane and unnerving. Slaughtering family, friends and even pets just to get close to a girl. At times it's like a disappointing male answer to Fatal Attraction. Like many of the above, I'd like to see him take on this sort of role again and maybe get it absolutely right this time! Only a year before this he played a teenage heroin junkie in the rough and fantastic true story, The Basketball Diaries.

Antonio Banderas

You may remember him as the wise cracking, sword slinging, boot wearing pussy cat from the Shrek series and his own spin off, Puss In Boots.

But did you know he played a mentally challenged rapist in Matador?

Pedro Almodóvar's explicitly sexually violent dark comedy is driven by three protagonists who are all in their own way horrible. Banderas' character, Angel may be the least horrible (Kinda) of the three but he's still despicable for his actions! Committing a rape purely to prove that he isn't gay at the behest of an ex-matador who is sexually aroused by murder. Even though he was in the absolutely incredible and shocking thriller, The Skin I Live In (Another Almodóvar film), this was AFTER his Desperado, Spy Kids, Shrek series, Puss In Boots style films. This is going back to the 80's!

It's insane to think some of the Hollywood "hunk" type people have been in such mental films doing such heinous things! You might not look at them the same way after seeing these flicks, but don't let that deter you, these are all worth seeing! Even the shit ones!

If anything this only goes to show how diverse they can be as actors!

Hope you enjoyed the list! Let me know in the comments if you can think of anymore lovable actors doing despicable things!


Which of these actors shocked you the most?


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