As likable as heroes are on the screen, there is an eccentric excitement that the bad guy brings to any movie or series. You will often hear avid movie fans say, a movie is only as good as its villain. Think back to Thanos in Avengers, or White Walkers in Game of Thrones. We can all agree that the presence of these villains made their respective movies/shows better.
When it comes to Hollywood, several Nigerian actors have made a name for themselves in various iconic roles, from heroic characters to teachers, mentors, and so on.
Nevertheless, while some actors have made a name for themselves as heroes, others have done a fabulous job in playing the bad guy. As a homage to some of the best villains to grace our screens, we’ve decided to look at how Nigerian born actors have performed in various antagonistic roles in Hollywood.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Four Brothers)
Although many would reconsider Chiwetel Ejiofor from his heroic role as Solomon Northup in “12 Years A Slave,” the Nigerian born actor has dabbled on the side of villainy in some of his roles.
Testament to Ejiofor, though: he has established himself as a soulless villain in several movies. In “Four Brothers,” we see Ejiofor’s acting range come to life. Working as a vicious mob boss in “Four Brothers,” he plays the role of one of the most vicious characters in the city of Detroit. He is not your typical mob boss—his way of punishing lapses, and insubordination, borders between cruelty and sick ingenuity.
Don’t let Ejiofor’s friendly face fool you. He also has a good number of villainous roles under his belt. In “Serenity,” he is an assassin operative sent to prevent the heroes of the movie from releasing sensitive documents across the galaxy. Also, in the new “Lion King” adaptation, he is the voice of Scar, the jealous brother who kills his brother for the throne. In “Z for Zachariah,” he finds himself competing with a younger and more charming white man for the only available female in the land.
Ariyon Bakare (In His Dark Materials)
Bakare is quite known in the fantasy niche. The Nigerian born actor plays the role of Lord Boreal in the hit TV series “In His Dark Materials.” Lord Boreal is the villain in the show who charms our young hero before stealing her alethiometer (a device that allows a person to find truthful answers to their questions).
When we are introduced to the character, we see a man with lots of charisma and charm. However, all of those novelties are just facades for the real demon within. His influences and powers make him one of the major antagonists of the series.
Ariyon Bakare does a fine job of showing us the duality of Lord Boreal’s character. He is charming when he needs to be, and ruthless when called into action.
In the Sci-Fi hit, “Life,” we also get to see Ariyon Bakare play the role of a scientist in space, who has make some controversial and unruly decisions along the way. Although, he doesn’t start out in the movie as an outright villain, circumstances in the plot means, our scientist must make certain decisions that would jeopardize the safety of his crew.
Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje
Akinnuoye Agbaje has a commanding presence that makes it easy for him to fit into the role of an antagonist. With a strong physical outlook and strong features, he is able to play various intimidating roles. Mind you, he is not in for the looks alone. He also portrays his characters in intelligent ways.
As Killer Croc in the Suicide Squad, the actor looks scary and terrifying. A half-crocodile, half-man cannibal with insane strength, Killer Croc shows no mercy when faced with adversaries. When he is not eating his foes, he is tearing into bits and pieces.
Akinnuoye Agbaje has also landed other antagonist gigs in the past. In Thor: The Dark World, he plays Algrim, one of the most powerful Dark Elves, who goes up against the Mighty Thor. In The Mummy Returns, he portrays Lock-Nah, the chief enforcer of the Cult of Imhotep.
One thing we can say is that Akinnuoye Agbaje does a good job of playing a cruel and sadistic character that resorts in violence at the slightest of chance.
Hakeem Kae Kazim (Hotel Rwanda)
From a humble beginning in Lagos, Nigeria, to Hollywood, California, Hakeem Kae Kazim has worked his way up in the film industry. His role in critically acclaimed Hotel Rwanda helped propelled Hakeem Kae Kazim into the limelight.
In the 2004 Oscar-nominated movie, Kazim plays the role of the main antagonist Georges Rutaganda, the commander of a radical militia. As an avid follower of Hutu power, he seeks out to eliminate all members of the Tutsi ethnic group, who he considers inferior.
Hakeem Kae Kazim does a fantastic job of portraying a modern-day Hitler. Kazim does incredibly well to portray a commander who will go at any length to wipe a particular ethnic group off the surface of the earth.
Nonso Anozie (Xaro Xhoan Daxos)
As far as actors go, Nonso Anozie is quite popular both in the U.S and Britain. Fans of the popular hit series Game of Thrones will remember him as Xaro Xhoan Daxos, from season 2 of the show.
As Daxos, Nonso plays the King of Qarth, who introduced Daenerys to the city’s elites. At first glance, the character comes out as a nice man who genuinely wants to help Daenerys regain the iron throne. He even promises her half of his wealth if she marries him. It is only after Daenerys refuses his proposal that we get to see the villainous side of Daxos.
Nonso gives a certain calmness to the character of Daxos. At a point, you are rooting for him to succeed, at another point; you want him locked up forever. Unlike other villains who might resort to violence to make their point, the King of Qarth uses deception and manipulation to achieve his goals.
Rotimi Akinosho (Power)
Rotimi Akinosho’s character in popular TV series Power, Andre Coleman, is one of the main antagonists of the show. When he is not dealing drugs, he is on a killing rampage, ending the life of those who cross his path. Dre is a handsome, charming, smart, and yet a grimy character in the show. He is ambitious, hungry, and power-driven. All of these qualities make him a deadly adversary who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
On playing the role of Dre, not many people gave Rotimi Akinosho the benefit of the doubt. But the Nigerian born actor has worked hard to make Dre one of the most hated villains in the history of television.
Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Wire)
As Chris Partlow, Gbenga Akinnagbe is one of the most murderous villains you would come across on television. He is a ruthless killer who commits more murders than any other character in the show. For Chris, killing is just another job. It is like going to the office every day with a suit and tie. The bad news for his victims is that Chris is actually good at his job.
As Gbenga Akinnagbe puts it, “Chris will shake your hand, and kill you, all in the space of 5 seconds.”
As a son of Nigerian immigrants, Akinnagbe has carved a name for himself as a formidable actor, whether on stage, television or the big screen.