The Best Villain Monologues to Bring Out Your Inner Baddie

Article Image
Photo Source: Courtesy Warner Bros/Columbia Pictures/20th Century Fox

Little is more fun for an actor than a role they can really sink their teeth into, and some of the juiciest parts available are the bad guys. From the Joker to Gordon Gekko, Annie Wilkes to Regina George, becoming a villain makes for a rich and satisfying acting experience.


What makes a good villain monologue?

Killmonger from 'Black Panther'“Black Panther” Courtesy Marvel Studios

A villain monologue must give insight into the villain’s justification for what they’re doing. The audience needs to understand them on a human level, even if they don’t agree with the character’s actions. Ultimately, a villain monologue is successful when it humanizes the villain as much as the hero is humanized. It is truly excellent if it persuades the audience—even only slightly—that the villain’s course of action makes sense. If the villain can manage to convince the audience that their nefarious deeds have cause, that makes it a top villain monologue.

The best monologues from villains

'The Devil Wears Prada'
“The Devil Wears Prada” Courtesy 20th Century Fox

1. “Richard III” by William Shakespeare: Richard III’s plan

William Shakespeare’s 16th Century masterpiece portrays King Richard III’s Machiavellian rise to power. In the opening of the play, in a declaration of self-awareness, Richard states that he is “determined to prove a villain.” Although England is finally at peace after a long civil war, the first thing Richard does is to express envy of his brother’s power as the King of England and explain how he plans to usurp the throne.

With two of the most recognizable opening lines in classical theatre, this iconic speech is an excellent opportunity for an actor to perform Shakespearean text, and simultaneously explore the physicality of embodying the deformed would-be King.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up,
About a prophecy, which says that ‘G’
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
Clarence comes.

2. “Othello” by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare crafted an archetypal villain in Iago. As Othello’s embittered ensign, motivated by revenge, Iago stokes the fires of jealousy until Othello murders his wife, Desdemona, in a frenzied rage. In his Act II  soliloquy, Iago has just advised Cassio to enlist Desdemona’s help to get back into Othello’s good graces. While the advice may be sound, his motivation is insidious at best. In this speech, an actor can play both the text (sound advice) and the subtext (nefarious intentions). 

And what’s he, then, that says I play the villain,
When this advice is free I give and honest,
Probal to thinking, and indeed the course
To win the Moor again? For ’tis most easy
Th’ inclining Desdemona to subdue
In any honest suit. She’s framed as fruitful
As the free elements. And then for her
To win the Moor—were ’t to renounce his baptism,
All seals and symbols of redeemèd sin—
His soul is so enfettered to her love
That she may make, unmake, do what she list,
Even as her appetite shall play the god
With his weak function. How am I then a villain
To counsel Cassio to this parallel course
Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
As I do now. For whiles this honest fool
Plies Desdemona to repair his fortune,
And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear:
That she repeals him for her body’s lust;
And by how much she strives to do him good,
She shall undo her credit with the Moor.
So will I turn her virtue into pitch,
And out of her own goodness make the net
That shall enmesh them all.

3. “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare: Lady Macbeth’s manipulation

After meeting with three witches and being encouraged by his wife, Macbeth becomes determined to kill the King and usurp his power. In this speech, his wife, Lady Macbeth, gathers the courage she needs in order to manipulate her husband into committing this heinous act of murder and treason.

It’s a delicious monologue, full of potent and dark imagery, and it gives an actor the opportunity to look behind a welcoming and hospitable veil into the conniving and murderous mind beneath.

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry ‘Hold, hold!’

4. “Glengarry Glen Ross” by David Mamet: Blake’s diatribe

This 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play tells the story of four Chicago-area real estate agents who go to great lengths to close their deals. This speech, famously performed by Alec Baldwin in the film adaptation, is a wonderful opportunity to play an overt villain. Blake cares nothing for the men around him and thinks himself utterly above everything else. This is a wonderful counterpoint if you’ve already performed something that showcases great vulnerability, and can really round out an audition. It also demonstrates a propensity for memorization, as Mamet’s language is notoriously precise.

Let me have your attention for a moment! So you're talking about what? You're talking about...(puts out his cigarette)...bitching about that sale you shot, some son of a bitch that doesn't want to buy, somebody that doesn't want what you're selling, some broad you're trying to screw and so forth. Let's talk about something important. Are they all here? I'm going anyway. Let's talk about something important! Put that coffee down!! Coffee's for closers only. Do you think I'm fucking with you? I am not fucking with you. I'm here from downtown. I'm here from Mitch and Murray. And I'm here on a mission of mercy. Your name's Levene? You call yourself a salesman, you son of a bitch?

The good news is—you're fired. The bad news is you've got, all you got, just one week to regain your jobs, starting tonight. Starting with tonight's sit. Oh, have I got your attention now? Good. 'Cause we're adding a little something to this months sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anyone want to see second prize? Second prize's a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired. You get the picture? You're laughing now? You got leads. Mitch and Murray paid good money. Get their names to sell them! You can't close the leads you're given, you can't close shit, you ARE shit, hit the bricks pal and beat it 'cause you are going out!

'The leads are weak.' Fucking leads are weak? You're weak.

A-B-C. A-always, B-be, C-closing. Always be closing! Always be closing!! A-I-D-A. Attention, interest, decision, action. Attention—do I have your attention? Interest—are you interested? I know you are because it's fuck or walk. You close or you hit the bricks! Decision—have you made your decision for Christ?!! And action. A-I-D-A; get out there!! You got the prospects comin' in; you think they came in to get out of the rain? Guy doesn't walk on the lot unless he wants to buy. Sitting out there waiting to give you their money! Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it? 

You see this watch? You see this watch? That watch cost more than your car. I made $970,000 last year. How much you make? You see, pal, that's who I am. And you're nothing. Nice guy? I don't give a shit. Good father? Fuck you—go home and play with your kids!! (to everyone) You wanna work here? Close!! (to Aaronow) You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cocksucker? You can't take this—how can you take the abuse you get on a sit?! You don't like it—leave. I can go out there tonight with the materials you got, make myself fifteen thousand dollars! Tonight! In two hours! Can you? Can you? Go and do likewise! A-I-D-A!! Get mad! You sons of bitches! Get mad!! You know what it takes to sell real estate?

It takes brass balls to sell real estate. Go and do likewise, gents. The money's out there, you pick it up, it's yours. You don't--I have no sympathy for you. You wanna go out on those sits tonight and close, close, it's yours. If not you're going to be shining my shoes. Bunch of losers sitting around in a bar. ‘Oh yeah, I used to be a salesman, it's a tough racket.’ These are the new leads. These are the Glengarry leads. And to you, they're gold. And you don't get them. Why? Because to give them to you is just throwing them away. They're for closers.

I'd wish you good luck but you wouldn't know what to do with it if you got it. And to answer your question, pal: why am I here? I came here because Mitch and Murray asked me to, they asked me for a favor. I said, the real favor, follow my advice and fire your fucking ass because a loser is a loser.

5. “The Dark Knight” by Christopher Nolan: The Joker introduces anarchy

The Joker may be modern culture’s most recognizable—and some might even say beloved—villain, and no incarnation is more iconic than Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” In this speech, the Joker gives never-before-seen insight into the inner workings of the character. It’s an opportunity for an actor to elevate an otherwise cartoonish supervillain hellbent on destruction. But here we learn that it isn’t for money or fame or fortune: it’s all about introducing a little anarchy.

Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just... do things. The mob has plans, the cops have plans, Gordon's got plans. You know, they're schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds. I'm not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. So, when I say... Ah, come here.

When I say that you and your girlfriend was nothing personal, you know that I'm telling the truth. It's the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and look where that got you.

I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know... You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan". But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair!

6. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn: The Cool Girl speech

The book “Gone Girl,” followed by its  film adaptation starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, introduces one of the cleverest antagonists in modern literature Amy has gone missing, and we spend the first half of the story with her husband as he tries to find her. But the second half of the story reveals that she’s alive—and has framed her cheating husband for her murder.

In this brief speech, Amy talks about having hidden behind an inauthentic identity during her marriage. It’s a great opportunity for an actor to get into the twisted mind of a villain as she comes to terms with herself. (This monologue is from the film. A longer version is available in the original book.)

Nick loved a girl I was pretending to be. Cool Girl. Men always use that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. 

Cool Girl is fun. Cool Girl is game. Cool Girl is hot. Cool Girl never gets angry at her man. She only smiles in a chagrined, loving manner and then presents her mouth for fucking. Go ahead, cum on me! I don’t mind, I’m Cool Girl.

7. “The Devil Wears Prada” by Aline Brosh McKenna (based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger): Miranda dresses Andy down

Meryl Streep’s performance as tyrannical fashion impresario Miranda Priestly is legendary. Her take-downs of sweet intern Andy are chill-inducing. And while an argument could be made that Miranda isn’t strictly a villain, Streep proves that an actor can really flex their muscles playing a nuanced and layered antagonist.

In this speech, Miranda dresses Andy down when Andy can’t tell two very similar belts apart, saying “I’m not great with all this stuff.” 

This 'stuff'? Oh, ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean.

You’re also blindly unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic 'casual corner' where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.

However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of ‘stuff.’

Tips on how to perform villain monologues for auditions

'Gone Girl'“Gone Girl” Courtesy 20th Century Fox

As with monologues of other styles, it’s important to choose a selection from a greater work with which you are familiar. Make sure to read the plays or watch the films from which you’re choosing your material, so you can infuse the speech with broader, more informed subtext.

If you are electing to use a monologue from a well-known film, make sure that you are reimagining the material versus imitating an iconic performance. 

Map out emotional levels in the piece, so that you have an opportunity to show what you’re capable of. Where does the character begin emotionally, and where do they end up?

Be flexible and listen to direction. It’s a good sign if a director is asking you to try it again with a different spin: they want to see how well you take direction. Keep yourself agile in the performance of the piece so that there is room for a different interpretation.

In an audition where you have the opportunity to deliver more than one monologue, a villain speech is the perfect counterpoint to a lighthearted or comedic monologue to showcase your range. 

Tips on how to write monologues for villains

  • Avoid info-dumping: A villain monologue has the most impact when we are already squarely on the side of the hero, so it should be timed to land when we already have a solid sense of the characters and plot. You risk undermining the monologue’s effectiveness if your villain gets caught up in exposition, explaining their backstory in detail. Let the language and storytelling illustrate the character’s motivations. Be sure to show more than tell.
  • Think of your villain as the hero of their own story: Your villain may not think of himself as the bad guy. In fact, he may have perfectly good reasons to do what he’s doing—think of Thanos in Marvel’s “Infinity War,” who turned to destruction in an attempt to save humanity. Your villain should be as multifaceted as your hero: with clear goals, wants, obstacles, and fears. This is why audiences are drawn to villain origin stories: audiences love to see a humanized and nuanced villain.
  • Convince the audience of the villain’s point of view: If you can win the audience over to your villain's side, you know you’ve created a truly great villain monologue. Villains are more than just mustache-twisting ne’er-do-wells. They pop off the page if you make them layered human beings.

More From Acting


Now Trending