They say a hero is only as good as his villain. Well, if that’s the case then a villain is really only as good as his monologue.
From Robert Blake’s “hopeless dream” in In Cold Blood to Agent Smith’s disdainful thoughts on humanity in The Matrix, the villainous monologue is more than an opportunity to chew scenery — it is the moment where the bad guy gets to validate his or her heinous actions to the audience.
As spectators we know the difference between good and evil, but the monologue puts us in the position to make a choice: Is it now safe to root for the bad guy instead of the good guy (Heath Ledger’s Joker, for example) or do we really just wish he would stop distracting the heroes and get off screen (Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy)?
The following ten movie monologues were so good that they leveled the playing field, allowing viewers to actually believe that evil may have a good reason for wanting to triumph over good. In some cases these performances were so strong that they unintentionally disarmed the good guys in the eyes of theatergoers. In other cases, these lines were delivered with so much conviction that you became morbidly curious about what exactly would happen if these dastardly sons of bitches did win.
10. Cuckoo Clock Speech by Orson Welles (The Third Man)
“You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” Watch it on YouTube.
9. “I am your biggest fan” by Jason Lee (The Incredibles)
“It’s finally ready! You know, I went through quite a few supers to make it worthy to fight you, but man, it wasn’t good enough! After you trashed the last one, I had to make some major modifications. Sure, it was difficult, but you are worth it. I mean, after all… I am your biggest fan.” Watch it on YouTube.
8. “He tasks me” by Ricardo Montelbon (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him. I’ll chase him round the Moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!” Watch it on YouTube.
7. “Greed is Good” by Michael Douglass (Wall Street)
“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.” Watch it on YouTube.
6. “Rube” by Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs)
“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chi-an-ti. You fly back to school now, little Starling. Fly, fly, fly. Fly, fly, fly.” Watch it on YouTube.
5. “Childhood” by Mike Myers (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery)
“Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year-old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes, he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament.” Watch it on YouTube.
4. “Is it the scars?” by Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
“He doesn’t like that. Not. One. Bit. So, me watching, he takes the knife to her, laughing while he does it. Turns to me and he says “Why so serious?” Comes at me with the knife,”Why so serious?” He sticks the blade in my mouth. “Let’s put a smile on that face! And…” Watch it on YouTube.
3. “Rats” by Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds)
“Consider for a moment the world a rat lives in. It’s a hostile world, indeed. If a rat were to scamper through your front door, right now, would you greet it with hostility? … Has a rat ever done anything to you to create this animosity you feel toward them? Rats spread disease. They bite people. Rats were the cause of the bubonic plague, but that’s some time ago. I propose to you any disease a rat could spread, a squirrel could equally carry. Would you agree? Yet, I assume you don’t share the same animosity with squirrels that you do with rats, do you? Yet, they’re both rodents, are they not?” Watch it on YouTube.
2. “He didn’t know” by Kevin Spacey (Se7en)
“I visited your home this morning, after you’d left. I tried to play husband. I tried to taste the life of a simple man. It didn’t work out, so I took a souvenir…her pretty head.” Watch it on YouTube.
1. “Horrors of War” by Marlon Brando (Apocalypse Now)
“I’ve seen horrors… horrors that you’ve seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that… but you have no right to judge me. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror… Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror.” Watch it on YouTube.