> Movie: “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
> Played by: Anthony Hopkins
Hopkins studied tarantulas and crocodiles in preparation for his Oscar-winning role as the reptilian-like Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Voted by the AFI as the most famous villain in movie history, the character has appeared in numerous books, films, and TV shows.
> Movie: “Cape Fear” (1962)
> Played by: Robert Mitchum
Robert Mitchum reportedly turned down the role of psychotic revenge-bent rapist Max Cady until director J. Lee Thompson and would-be co-star Gregory Peck sent him flowers and a case of bourbon. He ended up turning in one of the most famous performances of his long career, and his Cady was named AFI’s No. 28 villain – one slot ahead of Harry Palmer, the part he played in “The Night of the Hunter” (see above).
> Movie: “Cape Fear” (1991)
> Played by: Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro re-teamed with longtime collaborator Martin Scorsese for this stylish remake of the 1962 Robert Mitchum-starring thriller. Against the backdrop of a menacing score, ex-convict Max Cady enacts a deadly revenge scheme against his former lawyer (Nick Nolte). This is De Niro at his most unhinged and his performance is riveting.
> Movie: “Basic Instinct” (1992)
> Played by: Sharon Stone
The foremost femme fatale of the modern movie era, author Catherine Tramell lures a troubled detective (Michael Douglas) into her psychological web. Between Stone’s iconic performance and Paul Verhoeven’s brilliant direction, the film turns tawdry indulgence into high art. Both talents offer differing accounts of the famous leg-crossing scene to this day.
> Movie: “Single White Female” (1992)
> Played by: Jennifer Jason Leigh
In the vein of “Fatal Attraction” came this 1992 thriller, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh as the roommate from hell. It dials up the horror element and suffers as a result, though a murder scene involving a stiletto heel certainly had people talking.
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