One of the reasons that I dig the animated Sleeping Beauty is that Maleficent is such a great villain. She has horns and a fabulous voice and calls upon all the forces of hell to transform into a medieval dragon. Love it.
Or Peter Lorre playing a freaky child killer in M, a beautifully shot German film from 1931.
The villains that really get to me play their roles with such delight, because they have conviction. And this is the most troubling thing about them: they believe they’re doing the right thing. They believe they are righteous.
Think of Geoffrey Rush in Elizabeth as the advisor Walsingham. The dude was seriously frightening. And more than anything it was in his eyes—the pierce of them.
So often, in modern literature, the flawed hero is the stand in for the villain. Your own worst enemy logic. Or some corporation or government agency with a series of insinuating characters to provide an evil face, like the Smoking Man in X Files.
I’ve been thinking about villains because I really don’t want to murder anyone. In this new novel, I’ve decided to have my teenaged protagonist struggle against a different kind of conviction. Because the righteous are everywhere, and rarely do they wear black hats.