There’s something inherently creepy about someone in a mask. Maybe it’s the fact that you can’t properly read the person’s emotions, which is particularly unsettling when that person is committing a vicious crime. This is why some of the greatest movie villains of all time have been masked men (here’s an interesting fact about masked characters: With the exception of a few superheroes, there are very few examples of famous female masked characters in films; take that as you will). Another use for masks is anonymity, which adds to a film’s sense of mystery and suspense. Scream, for example, is built around the premise of finding out who lies behind the ghostface mask. In other instances, masks are simply used to create entirely new, non-human characters, such as the Predator.
Whatever the case may be, despite playing pivotal roles in some films, the actors behind the masks often receive little attention because their true identities are never revealed. Until now, that is.
Here’s the list of 10 iconic masked characters and the actors that portrayed them.
10. Boba Fett
Making his first appearance in the original 1977 Star Wars film, Boba Fett is a bounty hunter hired by Darth Vader, and he is the clone of Jango Fett.
The man behind the mask is Jeremy Bulloch, an English actor who has also appeared in the television show Doctor Who. Bulloch recently did an AMA with Reddit and revealed that he landed the role of Boba Fett by pure luck. They needed an actor and he just happened to fit in the uniform, down to the exact shoe size. Lucky for him, too, as Boba Fett would become one of the biggest characters in the series. Empire Online named him the third best character from the Star Wars universe.
Throughout the film V for Vendetta, the character V wears the now-famous Guy Fawkes mask while acting out his vigilantism. The mask helps to maintain the character’s moral ambiguity, forcing the viewers to decide for themselves as to whether or not he is a good character. In recent years, political activists and anarchists have adopted the Guy Fawkes mask in order to hide their identities.
The man behind the mask is actor Hugo Weaving, who you may know from The Matrix films, in which he played Agent Smith. Weaving also portrayed Elrond in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
8. Jason Voorhees
Along with Mike Myers and Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees is a staple in Halloween movies. With his giant machete and his old school hockey mask, he’s a pretty terrifying figure. Since 1980, there have been twelve Friday the 13thmovies.
There’s an ongoing debate as to which actor best represents Jason Voorhees, although many believe that stuntman Kane Hodder deserves the recognition. Although Ari Lehman portrayed the Camp Crystal Lake mass murderer in the original film, Hodder portrayed the character in four straight Friday the 13thfilms. Hodder also portrayed another famous masked lunatic: Leatherface, in Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.
7. Frank the Rabbit
Complete with giant ears, hideous teeth, and a fuzzy grey suit, this has to be one of the creepier masks on the list. Frank the Rabbit from Donnie Darko haunts Donnie throughout the film, and while he may seem like a villain at first, he actually turns out to be Donnie’s sister’s boyfriend, helping Donnie to prevent disaster.
The man behind the mask, as we discover in the film, is James Duval, who has starred in such movies as Gone in 60 Seconds, Independence Day, and Go. If you’re into such things, you can actually buy a talking Frank the Bunny figure.
Everyone knows the Predator, the highly advanced extraterrestrial species that terrorizes Arnie and the rest of his Special Forces team. But did you know that Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally intended to play the part? After it was determined that Van Damme was too small compared to the rest of the muscular actors, he was replaced with Kevin Peter Hall, a 7’2 former basketball player.
Because of his stature, Hall often played monsters or beasts, including Bigfoot in the film Harry and the Hendersons. He passed away at the age of 35 from AIDS-related complications.
5. Michael Myers
Without Michael Myers and Halloween, there would be no Jason Voorhees. In many ways, John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween, with its eerily masked murder, created the slasher film genre. Something you may not have known about the famous Michael Myers mask is that it was based on William Shatner’s face (kind of adds a whole new element to the terror of Myers).
The man behind the mask is Nick Castle. He was paid just $25 a day by his friend John Carpenter. Castle would go on to have a successful career behind the camera as well, writing Escape from New York and Hook. He also directed Dennis the Menace.
4. Darth Vader
Another Star Wars character, just in time for the release of The Force Awakens, and this time it’s the film’s most important masked character: Darth Vader. The American Film Institute named Vader the third best movie villain of all time. Even if you’re not a fan of the Star Wars franchise, chances are you still know who Darth Vader is and you can picture his famous black mask.
Numerous actors portrayed Vader, but perhaps the most notable one is English actor David Prowse. Prowse, a former bodybuilder and weightlifter, played the villain in the original Star Wars film.
The voice behind Darth Vader, of course, is James Earl Jones.
This one’s not so much a mask as an entire latex costume. Hellboy is a cigar-smoking demonic creature who works for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.
The man behind the red skin, shaved horns, tail, hooves, and giant right hand is Ron Perlman. It was roughly a four-hour process to put the makeup and prosthetic parts on him each day. You may recognize Perlman, who already looks a bit like a beast even without the makeup, from Sons of Anarchy, in which he plays Clay Morrow, the one-time President of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club. Perlman won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of another beast: the beast in Beauty and the Beast.
Leatherface is one of the most demented characters in movie history. He’s a mentally challenged, inbred murderer and cannibal. Oh, and his mask is made out of human skin. Scarier yet is the fact that he’s believed to be based on a real person, a Wisconsin man by the name of Ed Gein who collected human body parts.
The man behind the mask is Gunnar Hansen, who passed away just last month. In order to prepare for the role, Hansen hung out around children with special needs and studied their movements and behaviors. Despite the success of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Hansen left acting for several years in order to pursue a career in writing.
The ghostface mask from the Scream franchise was so popular that it was virtually ubiquitous come Halloween in the late 1990s. Several characters don the mask throughout the Scream franchise in order to torment Sidney Prescott and commit murders, but the first actors to play the part were Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard.
Although he’s not the actual actor behind the mask, Roger L. Jackson, who provides the creepy voice for the character, is just as important as any other character in the films. Almost as identifiable as the mask itself, Jackson’s voice never fails to send a chill down your spine.
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