Would anyone be scared of Darth Vader if he sounded like Charles Adler?

What about Scar from “The Lion King”? Can you think of a better voice than Jeremy Irons’?

It is common knowledge in and outside the industry that the voice makes the villain. This article will bring back all the memories while showcasing each of the voices that made us quiver from fear! Get ready!

Darth Vader – James Earl Jones (Star Wars)

“Something” in the voice

The most recognized villain in cinema. However, the producers didn’t have James Earl Jones in their minds to start with. Orson Welles was first considered for the voice but the idea was rejected because his voice was too recognizable. Vader is menacing not only due to his physical appearance, suit, and stature but also to his deep and dark voice something that was found in the combination of the cold bass of Jones’ voice and the mechanical breathing effects added by Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt.

Scar – Jeremy Irons (The Lion King)

The Shakespearean villain

Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons oozes evil as Scar, the king’s evil brother, as one of Disney’s darkest villains. Scar is the main anti-hero of Disney’s animated film “The Lion King” and one of Disney’s most infamous villains and a primary member of the Disney Villains franchise.

The story, having both “biblical” and “Shakespearean” elements, deserved an equivalent villain, thus,  Jeremy Irons was approached as an experienced “Shakespearean” villain. Scar, working as Simba’s dark antagonist, is heavily sarcastic, manipulative, power-hungry, always responding aggressively to criticism. His slim figure contradicts his smart ways and ability to turn any conversation to his advantage. Irons would give up to ten and fifteen takes on a line, which would be reviewed by the directors and editor and chosen from there [ Disney fandom].

Ursula – Pat Carroll (The Little Mermaid)

A lifelong dream

She had always wanted to work in a Disney film ever since she watched her personal favorite “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. So, when she was contacted by the agent, and he asked if she would like to audition she said “That’s an answer to prayer. Of course, I would!” She tested three times for voicing and three times for singing, but she only heard back from production team almost a year after! (Insidethemagic.net)

“Ursula is so scary because she’s so pushy. She’s physically bigger than life but she’s bigger than life in her head, in her voice, in her laughter, and in her meanness. She’s a mean old thing…” says Pat Carroll, the woman behind the voice.

Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange (Harry Potter)

A fullbody workout

Helena Bonham has been a fearmonger throughout her career. However, the former Queen of Hearts has stated that Bellatrix has been a hard one to play. All her traits make her the ideal villain: dark, unstable, fanatical, and ruthless. Helena’s worked her voice to match these traits.

“She’s without limits, (…) totally unsubtle (…) the character takes energy, and it’s highly exhausting to play. (…) I scream a lot and she’s both physical, she’s very expressed. It’s a big character to play.”

Helena even had to do a full-body workout screaming therapy for this role that she had never done before.

DR Claw – Frank Welker (Inspector Gadget)

DR Claw vs… Barry White?

Did you know that this deep, villain voice was actually “invented” during Frank Welker’s attempt to make an impression of – singer of love – Barry white? This inspired him to create both   DR Claw’s voice and Transformers’ super-villain Megatron!

Frank Welker’s deep voice captures the personality of this criminal mastermind: arrogant, malicious, and short-tempered. And his voice is simply enough to spread the fear as his face is never revealed!

Bane – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises)

The king of gypsies

Actor Tom Hardy who portrayed Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” told Vulture that Bane’s voice “is based on a guy named Bartley Gorman (…): “He’s the king of the gypsies, and he’s a boxer, a bare-knuckle boxer, an Irish traveler, a gypsy.”

The villain doesn’t speak clearly; no one could understand what he was saying. As a result, Nolan adjusted the sound mix in order to make Bane more intelligible.

In addition to Gorman, this voice has many other less obvious traits. First of all, since Bane’s origins are in a South American prison, his voice should have Latin characteristics. Apart from that, Hardy revealed that Gorman was not the only “muse” of Bane’s voice, it was also inspired by Richard Burton:

“Bane is somebody who’s in tremendous pain all the time. So, he had an older voice. Which is sort of Richard Burton, I suppose, you know. Slightly florid, camp English villain … in many ways, but just off-center.”

Looking for the perfect villain?

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Anna Sticken

Global Key Account Manager