10 Female Villains We Love To Hate5
By Bridgett Michele Lawrence
10 Female Villains We Love To Hate
Everyone loves to watch a great female villain. Whether they are clawing their way to the top of the corporate ladder, like Wilhelmina in Ugly Betty, or keeping a man captive after a chance encounter, like Leidy in the erotic thriller Leidy’s New Boyfriend, these women will do whatever it takes to get what they want. And though they make us want to cringe, curse, cry, roll our eyes, and throw stuff at the screen, we love every minute of it.
What is it about a good female villain that makes us want to watch them wreak havoc on whatever poor, unsuspecting sole, male or female, is in their path? The fact of the matter is… we need them. We can’t have a successful Hero without a successful Villain. Every hero needs a villain to stand in the way of their goal. Moreover, if there were no villains, who would we gossip about at work? In short, without villains, the world would be a very boring place. Luckily, Hollywood produces some of the most villainous female venom on earth to satisfy our insatiable “love to hate” appetites.
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1. The Wicked Witch of the West – The Wizard of Oz
Her name speaks volumes. In the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland as the adorable Dorothy, Margaret Hamilton brews up her own batch of sinister wickedness as the “Wicked Witch of the West.” The Wicked Witch of the West is practically synonymous with evil, although, she might have gotten a bad rap. Maybe she was just having a bad day. After all, her sister had just been killed by an unidentified flying house. Can’t a girl grieve without being called a witch? Needless to say, she lived up to her name by hunting down poor Dorothy and her loveable dog Toto. Along the way, the witch conjured all manner of evil relying on her army of flying monkeys to carry out her wicked deeds. Like any good villain, she was relentless until she lived up to her ominous words, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too.”
2. Miranda Priestly – The Devil Wears Prada
The 2006 hit, The Devil Wears Prada, based on the Lauren Weisberger novel of the same name, took us on a journey to the ugly side of Fashion. When a naïve young woman (played by Anne Hathaway) moves to New York and lands her dream job working at a popular fashion magazine, all hell breaks loose in the form of her boss, the ruthless, sarcastic, yet undeniably fashion-fabulous, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). We cringed as we watched Miranda walk all over her well-meaning assistant in her seemingly pitchfork-spiked stiletto heels, but we reveled in every minute of the torture!
3. Omarosa – The Apprentice: Season One
We first encountered this cutthroat corporate diva on season one of Donald Trump’s reality show The Apprentice. This savvy business woman, who only needs one name, wormed her way into our hearts week after week with her cunning, confrontational and relentless tactics. Despite her prickly personality or perhaps because of it, Omarosa managed to turn her fifteen minutes of fame into an all-out media takeover with a subsequent appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice, countless talk show appearances, and her own reality dating show (where she tries to make the ultimate merger). Omarosa, the media mogul, has even authored a book aptly titled, “The Bitch Switch: Knowing How to Turn It On and Off.” Love her, hate her or outright can’t stand her, Omarosa is the quintessential reality TV villain that keeps us watching.
4. Wilhelmina Slater – Ugly Betty
Delightfully devious, Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) engaged in every plot, ploy, plan and scheme to secure a seat at the helm of Mode Magazine in the ABC hit dramedy Ugly Betty. When Wilhelmina is overlooked for the coveted position of Chief Editor for the high-fashion magazine, she vows to do whatever it takes to get what she believes is rightfully hers, even if it means stealing sperm from a dead man’s corpse in order to impregnate herself with an heir to the company. Talk about persistent! But the devilish deeds don’t stop there. Always ready to reach into her Louis Vuitton bag of tricks, Wilhelmina finds a way to sink her perfectly manicured claws into every nook and cranny of Mode Magazine, making everyone’s life a living hell in the process. She is especially cruel to the show’s fashionably-challenged heroine Betty Suarez (America Ferrera). The ice queen, who’s had so much Botox that she can’t even tell when she’s smiling, delivers stinging remarks, sinister looks and hands out pink slips with such charm, wit and fierce fabulousness that we can’t help but love watching her do it. And we’re not the only ones. Vanessa Williams won the award for Best TV Villain at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards.
5. Alex Forrest – Fatal Attraction
This knife wielding, rabbit boiling, unstoppable temptress made women hold on to their husbands just a little tighter, made men rethink casual sex, and caused kids to think twice before asking what’s for dinner, after Fatal Attraction hit the theaters. “I mean, I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!” These fatal words, spoken by the seductively psychotic Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) in the 1987 thriller, taught men everywhere that hell indeed has no fury like that of a woman scorned. The object of her obsessive affection, Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), finds himself in a dangerous game of cat and mouse after engaging in what he believes to be a harmless one night stand. Refusing to be forgotten, Alex begins to stalk Dan and his family in a delusional attempt to win Dan’s love. And what’s not to love? She cooks, spends quality time with the kids (behind his wife’s back), and is pretty good in the sack… and on the kitchen counter.
6. Annie Wilkes – Misery
The master of horror, Stephen King, is known for creating villains that make our skin crawl. Misery, the 1990 thriller based on Stephen King’s novel, introduces us to Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) who, behind the façade of nurturing goodness (she doesn’t even curse), is hiding a deranged lunatic with a penchant for good books. When she “rescues” successful novelist Paul Sheldon during a snow storm, what he thinks is a stroke of luck turns into his worst nightmare. Annie is his “number one fan” and a loyal follower of a series of his novels about a character named Misery. When he makes the mistake of allowing Annie to read his latest work, she goes into a psychotic rage when she discovers that Paul has killed off her beloved Misery. Demanding that he write a more suitable ending, Annie holds him captive, cripples him, and cuts off all of his ties to the outside world. And can you blame her? Haven’t we all read a book, despised the ending, and then daydream about torturing the author until we got the ending we wanted? The Annie Wilkes role won Bates the Oscar for Best Actress in 1991.
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7. O-Ren-Ishii – Kill Bill
To state it plainly, O-Ren-Ishii is one bad bitch. And by bad, I mean oh so good. O-Ren-Ishii, wonderfully played by Lucy Lui, is a former member of an assassination squad and is now the head of the Tokyo Yakuza. This villainess, from Quentin Tarentino’s 2003 box office smash hit Kill Bill: Vol. 1, was at the top of the Bride’s (Uma Thurman) hit list upon waking from her coma – a coma that came as a result of an attack by Bill and the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. But settling this score proves difficult. O-Ren-Ishii is really good at being evil. When one of her fellow crime bosses, Boss Tanaka, expresses disdain for her mixed half Japanese, half Chinese-American heritage, O-Ren-Ishii calmly runs across the conference table, brandishes her sword and proceeds to cut off his head. But she can’t be held completely accountable for her evilness. At the age of nine, she witnessed the brutal murder of her parents at the hands of Japanese crime leader Boss Matsumoto. But don’t cry for her, Argentina. At age eleven, she posed as a child prostitute and murdered him and two of his henchmen while in bed. Payback’s a bitch and so is O-Ren-Ishii.
8. Nurse Ratched – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The role of Nurse Ratched in the 1975 drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won Louise Fletcher the Oscar for Best Actress and garnered her the title of fifth worst movie villain by the American Film Institute. This tyrannical nurse lords over the psychiatric ward of an Oregon mental institution. Cold and heartless, Nurse Ratched never raises her voice to her all-male patients. Instead, she controls the men by increasing their pills, abusing their egos and manipulating their minds. A rambunctious and often rebellious patient, R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), reaches his breaking point when Nurse Ratched shows no remorse for the suicide of a young patient who kills himself after she publicly humiliates him. McMurphy goes into a violent rage and nearly chokes Nurse Ratched to death. All of us thought she had it coming.
9. Cruella De Vil – 101 Dalmations
Glenn Close returns to her wicked ways in the 1996 live-action remake of the Disney animated classic 101 Dalmatians as Cruella De Vil. Cruella has no time for the petty cares of this wretched world, the least of which are marriage and family. In her words, “more good women have been lost to marriage than to war, famine, disease and disaster.” Instead she focuses all of her energy on her one true love: fur. Although I am sure PETA would beg to differ, the love of fur in and of itself does not make someone inherently evil. What makes Cruella’s fetish particularly fiendish is the fact that she has her sights set on an innocent group of Dalmatian puppies to help her make her next fashion statement. Fashion sense aside, anyone who would harm innocent puppy dogs must be stopped. With her sharp wit and even sharper tongue, it was fun watching this devilish diva get her just desserts.
10. The Queen – Snow White
The Queen, voiced by Lucille La Verne, in the 1937 Disney animated feature Snow White is the quintessential fairytale villainess. In what can be described as the ultimate mother/daughter rivalry, the Queen sends her henchmen to hunt and kill her beautiful stepdaughter, Snow White. When attempts to kill the princess in the woods are unsuccessful, she resorts to dressing as an old hag and gives Snow White a poisoned apple. All this because a magical mirror told her that Snow White was cuter than her. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Didn’t anyone ever tell the Queen not to ask questions you don’t want answered? Apparently not. God forbid she find out that she was not ranked the most evil of them all either! She was ranked #10 on the 50 Best Villains of All Time list by the American Film Institute.
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Bridgett Michele Lawrence is a Los Angeles based screenwriter. She earned her BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, a degree which she holds near and dear to her heart although it has yet to earn her the multi-million dollar script deal that she anticipated. She fully intends to file a complaint with the alumni association. Bridgett writes for television, film and the web and enjoys spending quality time with her DVR. In 2009, her award-winning pilot, The Value of Ex, garnered the attention of Executives at the CW and Overbrook Entertainment. Bridgett is also the co-creator, co-producer and co-star of Valley Girls, a comedic web series following the antics of three unemployed friends determined to turn their Hollywood Dreams into reality – by any means necessary. Although the show is loosely based on the experiences of herself and her two friends, she denies having any relation to her character. She is not a deranged screenwriter. She just plays one on TV.