Villains Villainy & a Villainess

Not all villains are monstrous and not all monsters are villains, but there certainly is a great deal of overlap between these two worlds of evil characters.

I’m going to see Alan Cummings’s one-man Macbeth on Broadway (yes, he plays ALL the roles and it’s set in an asylum), so I’m rereading Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is one of the best characters of all time! She is both a tortured soul and the soul of unbridled ambition.

Lots of lessons to be learned from her ruthless, single-minded drive. But is she a monster? I’ve seen a few productions of the play, and movie versions too. Sometimes her outsized need is so gigantic that she comes across as an evil genius and other times she’s so out-of-control that she’s a werewolf with the full moon is rising. I’m looking forward to seeing how this great actor plays her — and her hubby too.

I’m also pondering what makes a villain a monster? Is it the size of the villainous ambitions? Is it the level of animal brutality? Is the monster in the blood lust of a vampire or the physical, animal power of the beast?

Who is YOUR favorite villain and is he or she a MONSTER?


Favorite Macbeths…

As of right now, my favorite Macbeth was Patrick Stewart. I saw him on Broadway with Kate Fleetwood as his Lady. The setting had 20th century Stalinist overtones with super scary witches dressed as nurses. There’s a video of the production. I think I’ll see it after the Alan Cumming’s show.

Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth

“Men of Respect” with John Turturro as a Macbeth-like hit man in a crime family, and a fabulous cast including Stanley Tucci, Peter Boyle and Dennis Farina. I get chills thinking about the actress Katherine Borowitz scrubbing the bathtub in a frenzy of guilt and fear. “Out, out…”

“Men of Respect”



  1. The Patrick Stewart version has been on Netflix, though I haven’t had a chance yet to see it.

    Forgive me for this one…
    I really liked the way they showed the differences between Gaston and the beast in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. As is the norm for Disney movies it was over the top. But it was great in showing you don’t have to appear as a monster to be one.

    • Candy

      I’ve never been a Disney fan — not even when it was age appropriate. Yes, I was the weird little girl who got frustrated by all the princesses. But the Beast was handled well (saw it on TV). Maybe I should get it from Netflix for another go round?

      The inside and outside of monsters is the basis for so many classic fairy tales. The Witch/Queen in Snow White is all about her external beauty and internal evil. Gotta love her as the role model for a villainess.

  2. I actually rather like most villains, and some are downright sexy, but the ones who scare me are the ones who do terrible things for a cause. They are the ones who are completely convinced that they are justified in what they do. Like the madman from Norway.

    • Candy

      In my humble opinion, he’s both a madman AND a monster. His moral & ethical compass is flying in circles leading him to a crazy killing spree for his “cause.” Truly the scariest. I know a few people who went to Norway a year later and were there for a special memorial ceremony. (A father and son that I’ve interviewed for one of my freelance clients.) The kid was really moved and I don’t think he will ever look at “true believers” the same way again.

  3. I was reading the comments on a political blog (I know – what was I thinking?) and one apparent nihilist proclaimed that he didn’t believe in the sanctity of human life, so killing those who were useless to society was okay. That attitude, to me, seemed monstrous.

    • Candy

      I would say that is truly monstrous!

      Not reading the political blog — although that can be dangerous — killing off the “useless” is a truly monstrous plan.

  4. Alan Cumming doing a one-man Macbeth? OMG! Please let us know how it goes! I love him so, so, so much. The villain that just popped into my head is the grandmother from Flowers in the Attic. I must have read that book five times in middle school. She was definitely a monster. Oh, and which brings to mind Nurse Ratched from Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Talk about batshit crazy! She was played by Louise Fletcher, who also played dear Granny in the movie version of V.C. Andrews’ book.

    • Candy

      That “batshit crazy” granny gave me nightmares!

      Alan Cumming was amazing. I’m still buzzing with it and I’m very glad I “brushed up on my Shakespeare” (if you’ll pardon the reference to the classic musical “Kiss Me Kate”) before I saw the Scottish play on Tuesday. He showed both the humanity and the monstrous aspects of Macbeth and his Lady.

      I’m sure a video will be made — if it hasn’t been done already. He did the show in England and then at a large theater in NYC last summer. This is supposed to be the best incarnation as the theater is one of the more intimate B’way theaters, small enough to see all the nuances in his performance. The premise was that he is admitted to a psychiatric institution and then he goes into the entire play (edited just a tad) playing all the parts and interacting at moments with two staff members at the hospital.

      This is one of those shows I’ll be talking about for years!