Villain monologues are some of the most fun moments in film and television. But how can you write them?
One of my favorite things to write is an evil monologue. I think they're sort of a lost art now, but having your baddie deliver a delicious tongue-lashing, lots of exposition, or even just cruel intent can be delightful. I don't know about you, but I love watching a TV show or a movie driven by dialogue. Often, we see the heroes getting the bulk of the work, but when an antagonist gets to shine, you know you're having fun.
It's not easy to write these. You have to balance the tone of your script as well as not making it too cliché. The worst version can feel "mustache twirly." The best keep you on the edge of your seat and make you feel like your hero has met their match.
Today I want to look at the best villain monologues and figure out a strategy you can use when writing them.
Let's break bad together.
What Are the Best Villain Monologues? And How to Write an Evil One!
I have to admit, I had way too much fun researching this article. I think antagonists don't get enough emphasis from writers. They need to have their own agendas, their own wants, desires, and things that make them feel whole.
These things build a rounded character. And rounded characters can deliver excellent monologues.
What is an evil villain monologue?
An evil villain monologue is a long speech by the antagonist in a scene, film, or TV show.
When we say "long," what we really mean is one-sided, uninterrupted, and ongoing until a point is made. It is usually delivered to the protagonist or another character within the scene. It could be revealing motivations, a dastardly plan, or even just telling them a story.
When are evil monologues useful?
When I think of these monologues, I think about Bond villains detailing their plans to James while he's tied up or on a table moving toward a saw. I also think about the times when we meet a villain when they're right about to kill someone innocent, and they're talking at them.
Or what about when a villain gives a speech telling us what they believe or what they're selling?
I would give examples but I wanted to get your brain working.
Let's focus on the best cases below.
Examples of the 10+ Best Villain Monologues in Film and TV
Lots of times in these articles we create a list, and I think that would be flawed. I want to look at these evil villain monologues in film and TV and talk about what makes them great. These are the best examples of villain monologues I could think of. If you have better ones, tell me in the comments.
First, let's talk about the opening scene of Inglorious Basterds. When Hans Landa sits across the table from the farmer. He tells us what he's all about, shares his ethos with everyone in the room. It's a great way to use a monologue as a character introduction.
Another one I truly loved was delivered by Monique in the movie Precious. This is the scene that won her the Oscar. It gave her room to deliver a performance that showed us who the "villain" of this story really could be. It changed our view of the movie and exposed a broken system.
Another great one comes from Jules in Pulp Fiction. Now, I know what you're saying, is Jules a true villain? Okay, fine, he's probably more of an anti-hero. Nevertheless, I think hearing him quote the Bible to strike fear into someone and simultaneously show us he's a man of faith helps deepen the character and show us why he changes over the course of the film.
The most famous villain monologue is probably from Apocalypse Now, where Colonel Kurtz delivers his epic speech before he's killed. This serves as a culmination of his journey. We're gone as far as we can with him.
What about another very famous one? The "Greed is Good" one from Gordon Gecko. Here we see someone describing their mindset, telling us what makes them tick. It gives Michael Douglas a chance to shine, to prove to the audience who he is and how he has power over people.
Another one I think that doesn't get lauded enough is "tears in rain" from Blade Runner. The legend has it that it was made up on the spot by Rutger Hauer. It captures the idea of how clones view the modern world and if they have deeper thoughts.
Of course, monologues can come as part of the theme of a movie. Think about Heathers. That movie is built on the villains delivering monologue after monologue, talking about the reasons for their crimes.
What about another speech marking an ending?
I'm thinking about the villain monologue from Training Day, where Denzel tells us about King Kong. This shows how mighty he once was, but it also shows that he's no longer on top of the Empire State Building. It's an "oh how the mighty have fallen" speech.
Another one I think we talk about often is from The Dark Knight.
I mean, how could you write about this topic without mentioning the Joker and his scars? The thing here is that we subvert the villain monologue. We have him do it several times, each time changing the story. It leans into the chaos that goes with the character and with the audience's understanding of him in this world.
Of course, not everything is so dramatic. There's an amazing monologue from Dr. Evil in Austin Powers where he mimics the James Bond-style monologue talking about his troubled childhood. It's very funny and lampoons a lot of the lessons we've learned above.
Of course, those were all movies, and we see villain monologues in TV as well.
Think about the incredibly famous "one who knocks" from Breaking Bad.
And what about a show like Game of Thrones? Monologues really fit into the motif of fantasy. They are sort of a genre expectation. And Cersei Lannister always delivers.
Another show built on monologues is House of Cards. They have villains deliver long-winded speeches that make a Sorkin walk-and-talk take a breath. And when they got rid of Frank Underwood, they just had his replacement do it as well. It's a really fun way to keep the audience invested.
So as you can see, monologues and villains go hand in hand, no matter the entertainment delivery system. This was a lot, but I think it gives you a ton of lessons. So how can you apply them to your own writing?
How to write an evil monologue
So how do you put all this on paper? As you can see, there are a lot of ways to make villain monologues work for you. You want to make sure they are telling the audience something new. It's either a way to introduce your characters, show their ending, or reveal their plan. you can use them to tell the backstory, to show what drives them, or even to subvert audience expectations.
You want to brainstorm where the monologue will occur first, then work out what it needs to say in the individual scene first. Then work backward. Once it makes sense in the scene, how does it make sense over the course of the movie?
Then, finally, how will people react?
Are we cutting away from it, do we see the aftermath of what was promised, or is this just someone talking at us to move the action?
Writing is all about the choices you make. These choices reflect the kinds of people you draw and how their actions affect the story. That goes for the protagonist and the antagonist.
Hopefully, this article has you well on your way to your antagonist delivering a powerful monologue that makes the audience nervous about what comes next.
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