Some actors are just creepy. Check that — some actors are brilliant at playing creepy. Take Peter Sarsgaard, who plays the big-brained villain in Green Lantern. He’s built an impressive resume of delicious villains and shady characters in films like Boys Don’t Cry, Flightplan, An Education, and Knight and Day. Even when he’s playing good, like in Garden State, there’s still an element of danger lurking just beneath the surface.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, though, Sarsgaard argued that his being typecast as a villain is as much a reflection of his “rank” in the business as anything actually villainous he brings to his characters. Sarsgaard is one of my favorite actors, so I hate to disagree, but he conveys such a sense of unease and dread when he’s on the screen that I can never look away. The late J.T. Walsh used to be the master of this skill, and Michael Shannon has the same chilling effect on me today. They’re mesmerizing, but you know deep down not to turn your back on their characters.
There are plenty of others whose mere presence increases my heart-rate, like Jackie Earl Haley and Alan Cummings, and a Creepy Hall of Fame would have to include Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, and John Malkovich. What other actors give you the chills?