Bad Never Looked So Good: Fine Fictional Characters That Scared Us For Real

April 26, 2012  |  
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When I watch a movie, if it’s good, I’m all in. Completely invested, often times too much so. Throughout the duration of the movie, I struggle with the characters. When they laugh, I laugh. When they cry, I cry. I go through it. And if the film is really good, I find myself trying to find solutions to the problems they encountered, long after the movie is over. Some stories and the characters in them just stick with you. This is particularly true when it comes to the “bad guys.” From an early age we think we know who falls into that category and we try to avoid the bad dudes at all costs. But in these memorable movies, the bad guy is thrown in your face. You have to deal with him and sometimes he’s a bit terrifying. See who I’m talking about.

Denzel Washington as “Detective Alonzo Harris” in Training Day

Like most black, middle aged women, my mother had a thang for Denzel as well as most of the roles he played. But when he showed his darker side in Training Day, she wanted nothing to do with him. And I later realized she wasn’t the only one. While the Academy really dug his performance, black folk were a little salty he won an Oscar only after he went rogue. I personally didn’t have a problem with it. Anytime an actor can literally make me fear their character’s next diabolical move, that’s an excellent portrayal. Denzel did say that he took the role because Alonzo had to to suffer the consequences for his shady actions.

Michael Ealy as “Beau Willie” in For Colored Girls

Michael Ealy playing Beau was so despicable, that he later thanked film goers for not being so disgusted with him that they couldn’t support his future endeavors. And he’s right. Most of the time we’re able to separate the actor from the character but the fact that he was the face behind actions so heinous and unforgivable is unsettling to say the least. And not just for us either. Ealy told The Breakfast Club that he wasn’t easy for him to come out of that dark place at times.

No, it wasn’t easy. It was a little bit disturbing but I was able to work with Kimberly Elise and she was able to help me maintain some sense of sanity because we went to some very dark places. The kids were great; behind the scenes there were moments where you had to just stop and hugs those kids so that they knew that it was acting. We were just playing pretend and stuff because they got freaked out.

We were all freaked out. But again, it’s a testament to his talent because when Ealy played Beau, I no longer saw the light eyed sex symbol.  He became a man, broken by the aftermath of war.

Terrence Howard as “Lester Vesco” in Big Momma’s House

Surely, by now you’ve noticed that when Terrence Howard is in a movie, 9 times out of 10, he’s going to be playing someone with a questionable moral character. Even in comedies, like Big Momma’s House, he brings the drama. This lighthearted film took a sinister turn as soon as Terrence appeared on the screen. To this day, the scene where he’s sitting on the bed, stroking his son’s head while holding a gun in his lap, is still very chilling. His devious  smile didn’t help matters at all.

Tupac as “Bishop” in Juice

Tupac was more than just bad in Juice he was downright crazy.  Power (aka Juice) is a helluva drug and “Bishop” overdosed. It’s sad because seeing how close he and his crew originally were, we spent 2/3 of the movie thinking he was better than he ultimately ended up being. Can you imagine killing your friend and then going to the wake to comfort his mother? Sick. Seeing Tupac play this ruthless role and then turn around and play a horny, but good natured postal worker in Poetic Justice really showed how much range the man had. When Pac died, it was more than just a loss for Hip Hop, it was a loss for the entire entertainment community. Who knows what he would be doing if he were still alive today.

Gbenga Akinnagbe as “Chris Paltrow” in The Wire

Would you just look at this very handsome man! Goodness. Looking at this picture you could completely forget this is the same face that terrorized East and West Baltimore, along with his partner “Snoop,” in HBO’s hit series The Wire. I just had to include this picture of what the real Gbenga looks like. Because if you remember the series, you probably remember that he looked like this…

Chris and Snoop weren’t just your average hitman and woman. They showed no, absolutely no remorse and no mercy for their egregious murders. Before Lester Freeman caught onto their game of hiding the bodies in abandoned buildings, they were unstoppable. They would take out anybody who stood in the way of Marlo’s operation. Remember the time Chris killed that delivery woman after he smiled in her face? Or the time they took out that security guard because he questioned Marlo about stealing a sucker? But you know what? The worst display of violence from Chris came when he killed “Michael’s” stepfather. It was clear from his rage and his uncharacteristically vicious attack that he’d also been molested as a child, and while I sympathized with both he and Michael, watching that beat down was hard to stomach. I watched that episode on my computer and I literally had to scoot away from the screen because it got too real.

Laurence Fishburne as “Ike Turner” in What’s Love Got to Do With It?

If you’ve been black for a day or two, you’ve probably heard your skinfolk jokingly telling one another to “Eat the cake, Anna Mae!” We all laugh at the absurdity of forcing someone to eat cake, when they clearly don’t want it. But beneath that foolishness of that request lies that truly abusive nature of Ike Turner, played so convincingly by Laurence Fishburne. I literally felt and still feel a surge of terror every time he enters a scene. You just never knew what he would do. How bad this beating would be compared to the last one. And I just lost it when he raped her. Really, I don’t know why that was included in the film because both Ike and Tina have said that that never happened in their relationship. Either way, Laurence tapped into a monster for this one. And what’s most horrifying about this role is the fact that he was based on an actual person.

So this isn’t it. What bad guys were you a little scared of on screen?

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