To celebrate Meryl Streep coming back to our screens as the witch in Into the Woods, Empire Cinemas have compiled a list of the best female villains in cinema to get you in the mood before you enter the forest…
10. Mystique (X-Men, 2000)
Whilst the Jennifer Lawrence version may have softened the character of Magneto’s loyal second in command, the original screen version played by actress Rebecca Romijn-Stamos’s was much more out-and-out villain. Then you’d be kinda grumpy if you were stuck in make-up for the blue-clad role took a whopping nine hours. She also could not drink wine, use skin creams, or fly the day before filming, because it could have caused her body chemistry to change slightly, causing the 110 prosthetics applied to her skin to fall off!
9. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty, 1959)
It was a close run thing with Snow White’s Queen, but Maleficent pips her to the post as the Disney uber villain (although we’d like to see that battle). Sleeping Beauty took a budget-busting nine years to make and the stunning palette makes the film a classic. Last year Angelina Jolie made the deliciously evil witch her own in a role that was made for her – Maleficent lives on!
8. Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada, 2006)
Meryl Streep is no stranger to playing the villain in the Anna Wintour inspired performance as the boss everyone loves to hate. Ultimately it teaches us the ultimate lesson – all problems can be solved by Chanel.
7. Catherine Tramell (Basic Instinct, 1992)
Any woman who can cross her legs like that has got to be a narcissistic psychopath. Showered with controversy at the time, Sharon Stone’s bisexual killer has now become a movie icon. Writer Joe Eszterhas, who also wrote Flashdance, churned out the original screenplay in 13 days before a bidding war kicked in on the unproduced story.
6. Baby Jane Hudson (Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, 1962)
One of the most infamous of Hollywood rivalries between Bette Davies and Joan Crawford meant art mirrored life perfectly in this psychological thriller. Bette Davis plays Baby Jane, a former child star who imprisons and antagonises her wheelchair-bound actress sister Blanche (Crawford). Both dream of their former fame and glory but Davis slips further and further into fantasy while avidly torturing her sister. Both actresses found their careers revitalised after such star turns.
5. Nurse Mildred Ratchett (One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975)
Possessing a poised menace that puts Jack Nicolson in his place, it’s no wonder Louise Fletcher’s performance as Nurse Ratchett swept the board at Oscar time. Yet she’d auditioned for the part for over six months with director Milos Forman telling her each time she wasn’t approaching the part correctly. She was finally signed a week before filming.
4. Mayday (A View to a Kill, 1985)
It may be Roger Moore’s least favourite of his Bond films, but the addition of Christopher Walken, Duran Duran and the statuesque Grace Jones as Walken’s villainous sidekick Mayday made this a Bond film for the MTV generation. Moore was barely on speaking terms with Jones during filming but her Amazon qualities made her a force to be reckoned with.
3. Annie Wilkes (Misery, 1990)
Stephen King sure can churn ‘em out and Kathy Bates is perfect as the megafan Annie that puts the fear of God into all novelists, kidnapping the writer played by James Caan and holding him prisoner to make him write his books how she sees fit. That’s right. Holding James Caan prisoner. Him from The Godfather. NOW you’re impressed…
2. Alex Forrest (Fatal Attraction, 1987)
Ah yes… The character that gave us the phrase ‘bunny boiler’… Glenn Close is SCARY as the persistent stalker from hell who will not let it go of the philandering Michael Douglas.
1. The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz, 1939)
Green-skinned, cranky and with a penchant for shoes, this is not a woman to mess with. Famously melting into nothing when Dorothy hurls water at her (no wonder she covered her hair when she couldn’t shower), the Wicked Witch of the west is the stuff of nightmares, flustering Dorothy enough to get her to traipse off to the Emerald City. Actress Margaret Hamilton certainly sweated for the part spending 6 weeks recuperating from burns after her fiery exit from Munchkinland malfunctioned. So scary was she that studio bigwigs cuts several scenes, worrying they were too much for children.