I was holding out to see if Terry Gilliam could top his depiction of Satan in Time Bandits with that of Satan in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus before finishing off this list. He didn’t, so here is my Top 10 list of Movie Satans in the same form it was in a month or so ago.
Criteria: Must be in a film (obviously); no animation (sorry South Park); may or may not be explicitly named Satan
Actor/Actress: Max von Sydow
Film: Needful Things
Who would suspect a kind old man was the devil? No one, which makes this all the more off putting. But when an elderly gentleman opens up a shop in a quiet town and offers townsfolk their every desire for a mere pittance you’d think someone should stop to ask questions.
Actor/Actress: Elizabeth Hurley
Some would say the devil in the original Bedazzled played by Peter Cook should trump Hurley’s performance. I say no way, take a look at her — she is the perfectly proportioned Satan and one I would gladly give my soul to for three wishes (who am I kidding, I’d give it to her for nothing).
Actor/Actress: David Warner
Film: Time Bandits
Great film in which a manic Satan, played by David Warner, tries to get his hands on God’s map of time portals. His ire is only exacerbated by the fact the map is in the hands of a bunch of thieving dwarfs. Ever try and get your hands on a bunch of thieving dwarfs? They’re tough to catch.
Actor/Actress: Viggo Mortenson
Film: The Prophecy
Wickedly cruel and brutally hardcore. As an added bonus, he has the appetite for eating nonfood items like a beating heart freshly pulled from the chest. I’d say those are all the necessary traits needed to be a top ranked overseer of evil.
Actor/Actress: Jack Nicholson
Film: The Witches of Eastwick
It’s Jack. Do I have to say more? Okay, Susan Sarandon, Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer co-star, giving this devil who just wants to have fun more than he bargained for. Much more.
Actor/Actress: Al Pacino
Film: The Devil’s Advocate
Pacino was meant to play Satan at some point in his career. He absolutely relishes the role of John Milton, a powerful Manhattan attorney who, through our broken justice system, corrupts the good and helps the guilty escape punishment. He even manages to make Keanu Reeves look not so wooden.
Actor/Actress: Tim Curry
You can thank your mother for this one. This incarnation is taken directly from your childhood nightmares of what Satan looks like — just amped up 100-fold. And to top it off Curry looks like he is having the time of his life bringing pain and suffering to Tom Cruise!
Actor/Actress: Rosalinda Celentano
Film: The Passion of the Christ
Just looking at her pale, bald and epicene image is enough to bring feelings of discomfort and put a bad taste in your mouth. Her interpretation of the devil is the most distressing of all portrayals on the list. The film itself is pretty damn disturbing too.
Actor/Actress: Peter Stormare
Thick Euro accent, dressed impeccably in a radiant white suit, dull eyes of a binging meth addict — something is clearly not right with this picture. Topping the striking visual, Stormare adds the perfect touch of depravity to the role.
Actor/Actress: Robert DeNiro
Film: Angel Heart
A very twisty, complex movie that requires repeated viewings to make sense of. What you’ll know from the first showing, however, is this one of DeNiro’s better performances. As Louis Cyphre, a man out to collect on a contract, he sweats cool, composed evil. He may not get that much screen time, but when he is on, you simply cannot turn away (even watching him eat an egg is uncomfortable).
Yes, I know there are lots more. Clue me in on the good ones I’ve missed (don’t give me shit like Gabriel Byrne in End of Days . . .)