10 Actors Who Played the Devil Better Than Lucifer Himself10
By Dan Berry
10 Actors Who Played the Devil Better Than Lucifer Himself
Any actor will tell you that it’s a lot more fun to play the bad guy than the good guy. So it follows that actors must really relish playing the biggest badass of all, the Devil. It must be the role of a lifetime – transforming into a character so uncompromisingly charismatic and evil, yet conflicted and psychologically intricate. There are so many ways to play him. There’s even the snarky 40’s movie producer version played by Clint Herring in the supernatural noir series Hamilton Carver: Zombie P.I.
Whether referred to as Lucifer, Satan or simply the Devil, the demonic antagonist has been portrayed by many different actors in many different ways, ranging from terrifying to humorous. Thanks to various actors bringing out and emphasizing certain devilish characteristics, no two movie Devils are the same.
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1. Telly Savalas in Lisa and the Devil (1973)
Though never directly referred to as being Satan, an al fresco painting in the town square makes it clear Leandro (Savalas) is really The Devil. Lisa (Elke Sommer) has a seemingly chance encounter with Leandro in a shop where he is buying a life-size dummy. Afterwards, she loses her way amongst the backstreets and hitches a lift with three strangers. They travel to an old-looking mansion where Leandro works as the butler serving the mother and son of the household. Savalas is marvelous here as a wry, amused presence watching over his victims and waiting for them to fall. (Telly, we still love ya, baby!)
2. Viggo Mortensen in The Prophecy
Lucifer makes no attempt to hide his identity in The Prophecy, Gregory Widen’s underrated supernatural thriller. A rebellious Archangel Gabriel (Christopher Walken) intends to destroy humanity and gain control of Heaven. Lucifer (Mortenson) likes things as they are and intervenes on behalf of the good guys (but makes it clear he is acting out of his own interests). Mortenson is the most obviously Satanic figure on this list, looking like Rasputin and hissing out dialogue with relish. Lucifer exhibits his power to corrupt, as well as his determination, when he rips out Gabriel’s heart.
3. Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
John Milton can seduce a mother and daughter into a threesome, talk down knife wielding gang members on the subway, and finagle a public beejay. But what he’s best at, by far, is screaming at the top of his lungs during a climactic monologue while his prey just stands there.
4. Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick
Very few play crazy better than Jack Nicholson (The Shining and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Ironically, when he plays the Devil (Darryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick), he displays a sort of restrained craziness. Like Milton in The Devil’s Advocate, Van Horne is a seductive womanizer. Women always go for the bad boys.
5. Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled (2000)
Not to be mistaken for Jennifer Love Hewitt in “Vagazzled,” Liz Hurley in Bedazzled is a thing of beauty. Make all the Brendan Fraser jokes you want, but I don’t see how any heterosexual male can’t enjoy a movie that is essentially an excuse to parade Liz Hurley around in slutty outfits for an hour and a half. With apologies to Peter Cook, who played the Devil in the 1967 version of this movie, Hurley is easily my favorite Devil. I haven’t felt this way about a Brit since Kelly LeBrock circa 1985.
6. Jeff Goldblum in Mr. Frost (1990)
The Devil in Mr. Frost is quite different from other movie Devils. He’s not seductive and confident, but rather insecure and uncertain. Knowing that, it’s very fitting that he’s played by the uber-neurotic Jeff Goldblum.
7. Tim Curry in Legend (1985)
I don’t know how Tim Curry didn’t topple over during the shooting of Legend, what with those enormous horns attached to his head. He looks absolutely terrifying, but I still say the fear this Devil (or “Darkness”) invokes is nothing compared to the fear invoked by Curry as Pennywise in It.
8. Peter Stormare in Constantine (2005)
Stormare has proven himself a terrific, albeit off kilter, character actor with memorable roles in such films as Fargo, 8MM and The Big Lebowski. So his portrayal of Lucifer is unsurprisingly creepy. Watching Stormare, you can sense something very demonic and “off” about him, which adds to the underlying evil of his character.
9. Robert DeNiro in Angel Heart (1987)
Everyone knows DeNiro is a pro at playing psychopaths (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Untouchables and Cape Fear) and his role as Louis Cyphre in Angel Heart, opposite Mickey Rourke (Harry Angel), is definitely on par with his reputation. In the film, Cyphre hires Angel to do some investigative work, but it soon turns out that Angel is part of Cyphre’s intricate scheme to obtain a soul.
10. Trey Parker in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Trey Parker voices Satan in the South Park movie and helps create the funniest version of the Devil you will ever see. I mean, c’mon, what’s funnier that seeing Satan getting sodomized by a horny and abusive Saddam Hussein? That’s right. Nothing.
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Dan Berry began writing and performing stand-up comedy while skipping class and drinking heavily at New York University. An inexplicably instant success, he has since appeared in clubs and on college campuses nationwide and is frequently featured on radio and television. Aside from creating the humor site “Jotter of a Rotter” and the internationally acclaimed website “The Prison Kite,” Dan has also lent his warped writing skills to a pair of failed pilots for FX and NBC, as well as to several current network shows that are somehow proving successful in spite of his crazed contributions.