If a hit US film is looking for an amazing über bad guy, then it always looks across the Atlantic at British actors. There have been many phenomenal British bad guys over the years, Alan Rickman in Die Hard, Jack Davenport and Tom Hollander in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and now the scrummy Benedict Cumberbatch as the elusive Jack Harrison in Star Trek: Into Darkness.
The Sherlock star has suggested that the reason American film makers are so keen on casting British actors as bad guys is more a case of how they say, not what they say. In an interview with UK radio station Absolute, the star said:
“We sound our consonants a lot more which usually means intelligence and thoughts and manipulation – the colder edge of reason – rather than emotion which is all vowels, which is American,”.
As with any argument there is always more than one side, and fellow British actor and serial baddie Tom Hollander suggests there is another, more historical reason for the British bad guy tradition.
The Pride and Prejudice and Rev star says the reason for the British baddie is due to the historical conflict between the UK and the US which culminated in US independence in 1776. Hollander told The Telegraph newspaper, “With respect to Ben, it’s because we are seen in America as baddies as a nation. It’s because we were their oppressors once, and they had to fight us off, so the sound of our voices brings all that back and they hear evil.”
So just who is right, Sherlock or Mr. Collins? I personally think it is a mixture of the both, and also the British tradition of theatre and pantomime, maybe it is a case of British actors just better bad guys. Especially if you consider one of the best movie bad guys of all time is Hannibal Lecter, portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon and Hannibal and also back in the 80s by Brian Cox in the underrated film Manhunter. Both are British actors however they were portraying a non British villain.
As long as we keep seeing amazing performances from amazing actors, I for one don’t care whether they wear the Black or the White hat.