While actors in the industry have managed to perform in some of the most intense, hard-hitting, and disturbing character roles in movie history–from Heath Ledger’s legendary Oscar Award-winning performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight to the truly disturbing Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho–some of the most memorably-disturbing performances have undoubtedly been given by the top female performers in the industry. Despite a large part of the movie industry being about body image and maintaining a certain physique to be able to be cast in more high-profile Hollywood roles, women have proven to have delivered some of the best character performances in the roles as grimy, gross, and disgustingly disguised protagonist and antagonist characters in movies without any need to showcase the more flattering elements of their “personalities.”
Although the role of the final girl–the last girl to remain after the murderer in a horror movie has killed off everyone else–seems to be the most desired among starlets seeking to make their big break as the protagonist in thriller and horror movies, it is often the female villain character that is hurdled into the spotlight for the deliverance of a truly alarming performance. Some of the most remarkable-looking celebrities in the industry have even played their part in some grisly disturbing roles, in which their normally-stunning appearance is sometimes unrecognizable.
Here are twenty incredibly gorgeous celebrities who played some of cinema’s most horrifying and disturbing characters:
20. Gemma Ward – The Strangers
The award-nominated actress, Gemma Ward, has performed roles in other commercially-successful box office productions, including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Great Gatsby, and has even starred in music videos for top-charting musical artists including Fergie. Despite her incredibly stunning looks, Gemma Ward took her horror-performance skills to new heights as the killer Dollface in The Strangers. Stalking a couple played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman while on a romantic retreat at their secluded wood cabin, Ward and her two other co-criminals torment the distressed couple, eventually capturing the couple and subjecting them to one of the more brutal murder scenes in movie history. In a prolonging scene, Ward walks away having established herself as a sadistic force to be reckoned with, as her complete lack of empathy and blatant enjoyment in torturing the couple is truly disturbing.
19. Sofia Boutella – Kingsman: The Secret Service
The skilled dancer and actress immediately had the spotlight turned on her after performing in numerous high-profile dance productions for A-list musicians such as Madonna and Michael Jackson and as Samuel L. Jackson’s tastefully-classy killer assistant, Gazelle, in the action-spy feature Kingsman: The Secret Service. With swords for legs, Boutella struts her stuff on camera and, in some well-choreographed moments, shows how dangerously disturbed she can really be. Her combat skills and sword-limbs make her a deadly opponent to the protagonist, Eggsy, played by Taron Eggerton in the film. Additionally, Boutella appears to have a particular love for violence in the movie, seemingly enjoying the massacre of religious churchgoers by Colin Firth and showing no sympathy for Jackson as she burns his palm into a high-tech computer security system.
18. Emma Roberts – American Horror Story and Scream 4
Emma Roberts has recently been cast as a regular on the hit-horror series from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, American Horror Story. Appearing in lead roles in season 3 of Coven, season 4 of Freak Show, and season 7 of Cult, Roberts has proven herself (to Murphy and Falchuk, at least) to be a definite scream queen, capable of taking on the more disturbing character roles they write. Despite achieving massive acclaim for her role in the popular horror show, Roberts also made her name known in the 4th title of the motion picture horror franchise, Scream 4. Starring alongside Neve Campbell as the protagonist’s niece, Jill Roberts, Emma shows that she can muster up disturbing character potential as she reveals herself to be the fame-hungry serial killer who has been making her way through the A-list cast, which included such big names as Allison Brie, Lucy Hale, Anna Paquin, Courteney Cox, and Hayden Panettiere. In the climactic scene of the movie after Roberts reveals that she is the murderer, she then proceeds to throw herself onto a knife and numerous living room furniture pieces to fake being an actual victim of the murderous tirade. This Hollywood dame has definitely left her mark as some truly disturbing characters.
17. Allison Williams – Get Out
Having previously starred as the lead of Marnie Michaels in Lena Dunham’s Golden Globe Award-winning series, Girls, for which she was nominated for a Critics Television Choice Award, Allison Williams has definitely been one of the more attractive newcomers to the horror scene. Starring as the gorgeous Rose Armitage in Jordan Peele’s horror feature debut, Get Out, Williams has audiences swooning over her dogmatic political correctness. After she defends her black boyfriend, Chris Washington, from a racist encounter with law enforcement and seems enthusiastic about her boyfriend meeting her white parents, it seems as though Williams is certainly one of the good guys. However, in the twist-ending, it’s revealed that Williams is just as horrible a person as the rest of her insane family, who kidnap African-Americans and perform brainwashing surgery on them that ultimately makes them complacent servants. In one of the final climactic scenes of the movie, Rose (Allison Williams) reveals herself to be truly psychopathic, unflinching with the knowledge that the man she has been dating will soon meet a horrific fate and even nonchalantly enjoys a bowl of cereal as her boyfriend is put through the traumatic experience of the brainwashing procedure. This gorgeous starlet shows that she is more than just a pretty face for rom-coms and dramas.
16. Jane Levy
Starting out with television appearances on the hit series Shameless and as the lead in the comedy-drama show Suburgatory, Jane Levy only recently made her move in the thriller-horror genre, contributing her exquisite talents to such box-office slams as Don’t Breathe and the recent indie flick I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. Despite her innocent demeanor and upbringing in comedy, Jane Levy has dived into some truly abhorrent character roles, such as her role as withdrawing addict Mia, in the 2013 remake of The Evil Dead. After getting assaulted by a tree and becoming possessed by an ancient evil spirit, Jane Levy turns into a demonic unpredictable mess of a character. Only after the ritualistic summoning of a hell monster is thwarted does the audience again see the true beauty of Jane Levy, but not before she decides to rip her own hand off to defeat the devil. Talk about one stunning final girl.
15. Sheri Moon Zombie
The famed wife of Rob Zombie has made her name as leads in nearly all of her husband’s movies, including House of 1000 Corpses, Grindhouse, Halloween, The Devil’s Rejects, The Lords of Salem, and 31. Given her major roles in some of the most arguably disturbing movies to hit theaters in the last decade, Sheri Moon Zombie, also known by Kitty Moon, is definitely one of the more notable beauties the motion picture and television industry have to offer. She has been awarded numerous highly-coveted awards in the horror movie genre for her sadistic villainous performances, including an Eyegore Award, Fangoria Chainsaw Award, Scream Award, and an additional nomination for a Fright Meter Award.
14. Parker Posey – Blade: Trinity
The Golden Globe-nominated actress, Parker Posey, has been in numerous highly-acclaimed film and television productions throughout her career, such as Party Girl, Henry Fool, and Parks and Recreation. One of the more favored roles of Posey’s career is in the role as the flirtatious but menacing vampire, Danica, in Blade:Trinity, the third title in the vampire saga from New Line Cinema. As Danica, Posey’s main scenes are with Ryan Reynolds, in which the two reflect (rather sarcastically) on their previous relationship. Kicking, punching, and bleeding Reynolds around without batting an eye shows Posey to be a truly disturbed character. But when she opens her mouth to reveal her fangs, the die-hard sexy actress is hardly recognizable, let alone attractive.
13. Charlize Theron – Monster
Charlize Theron has made a name for herself as one of the decade’s hottest female movie action stars with high-profile roles in Mad Max: Fury Road, Prometheus, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, The Fate of the Furious, and Atomic Blonde. Although the Oscar winner is one of the most attractive women in show business, she has still taken strides in securing some of the most horrendous character roles in motion picture history, including her critically-acclaimed performance as Ailene Wornos in the movie Monster. Depicting the Daytona Beach serial-killer prostitute in this biography crime-drama earned Theron an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award, as she delivered an unequivocal performance in her role as the infamous serial killer. Her murderous rampage of various men throughout the movie earned her one of the top spots on this list of beautiful women in disturbing roles.
12. Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Starting out young in mature roles like her role in The Professional, Natalie Portman established herself early as an actress capable of taking on the more challenging movie roles. After securing her reputation in the industry with such high-profile roles as Padme in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode 2: The Clone Wars, and V for Vendetta, Natalie Portman went on to secure an Oscar for “Best Performance by a Female Actress in a Leading Role” for her portrayal of the conflicted perfectionist, Nina Sayers. In the role of Nina, Portman delivers a tremendously-unsettling role as a ballerina seeking perfection. The cinematic masterpiece exhibits Portman performing such acts as self-mutilation and hallucinatory physical transformations, leaving viewers with a shocking ending that will have them watching it all over again to see just where it all went wrong. Natalie Portman is absolutely a prime example of one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood showing their grit in truly disturbing movie roles.
11. Lena Headey – Dredd
The gorgeous Lena Headey has made major debuts in such productions as the thriller The Purge, where she plays the righteously-moral housewife to Ethan Hawke and is internationally-established for her roles in other hit films and television shows, including 300 and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Headey is no newbie to playing the antagonist in film and television shows, having given an exceedingly brilliant performance on television as the ruthless tyrant, Queen Cersei Lannister, in the multiple Primetime Emmy Award-winning HBO series, Game of Thrones. Although Headey is most renowned for her unmatched portrayal of the tyrannical queen in Game of Thrones, one of her other lesser-known character performances still remains the focal example of how this beautiful Golden Globe Award-nominated actress is able to transform into a sadistic disturbing monster of a villain. In the 2012 action-packed feature film, Dredd, Lena Headey plays Ma-Ma, a ruthless crime lord heading the distribution of a new reality-altering drug called slowmo, which slows down a user’s perception to make everything appear to be in slow motion.
10. Scarlett Johansson – Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson has received awards and accolades for her various acclaiming performances throughout her career. Johansson has starred in such differently-styled productions from Her and Don Jon to Lucy and Ghost in the Shell, as well as her role as Black Widow in numerous mega box office successes, including Iron Man 2, The Avengers, and Captain America: Civil War, proving to be one of the most esteemed versatile actresses in the business. Even though Johansson is undeniably able to command exceedingly high salaries and can command nearly any Hollywood role she desires, she still often makes her way into smaller-budgeted films from the multimillion-dollar budget features she usually lends her talents to. One such instance is her role as The Female in the BAFTA Award-nominated horror-thriller Under the Skin, which documents a young woman’s seduction of young men leading to their demise and her own self-awakening. In the production, Johansson gives viewers spine-chilling sensations as they watch her strip men of their humanity in a black, oceanic void.
9. Riki Lindhome – The Last House on the Left
The blonde half of the comedy duo Garfunkel and Oats, Riki Lindhome, matches her hilarity with her delightfully-charming appearance. While she has risen to fame through her role performing musical comedy, even going so far as to receive an Emmy Award nomination for “Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics,” surprisingly enough, Riki Lindhome has portrayed some rather grimy Hollywood characters, including as the voyeuristic antagonist Sadie in The Last House on the Left. Performing alongside Aaron Paul and Sarah Paxton, Lindgome as the deviant Sadie gets a kick out of watching the helpless Paxton in one of cinema’s more hard-to-watch sequences and partakes in the attempted murder of Paxton and her family after they discover that Paxton’s character has survived the sadistic attack on her by Sadie and her boyfriend’s gang of criminals.
8. Shawnee Smith – Saw
Shawnee Smith has had roles in huge box-office features since her first casting in the 1982 production of Annie, moving on to star in other hits such as The Blob, The Island, and the series Anger Management. Despite these major roles in international production successes, one of her most notorious roles in movies to this day was as Amanda in the famous gut-wrenching Saw franchise. Starting out as a victim of the serial mastermind “Jigsaw” and moving her way up to apprentice, Smith showed that she isn’t afraid to get down and gory in some of movie history’s most hard-to-watch torture segments, including ruffling through a pit of needles to find an antidote and searching through her lover who she murdered to find the key to her escape. Her graphically-disturbing performances also helped her “find” her way to earning a prestigious Eyegore Award.
7. Lucy Liu – Kill Bill: Vol 1
Lucy Liu, who is a widely-adored actress renowned for her roles in Lucky Number Slevin, and Charlie’s Angels, gave one of her more prominently-reference performances in Quentin Tarantino’s bloody action-adventure, Kill Bill: Vol 1. Starring in the role as Oren Ishii, one of the murderers of the protagonist bride (played by Uma Thurman), Liu manages to terrify audiences in the role as the merciless lord of the Tokyo underworld. While decapitating one of her colleagues over a mere disagreement may be near the top of the list for her more cringe-inducing moments, one of the more disturbing sequences involving her character portrays a young Oren hiding under the bed while her parents are murdered. Although Liu doesn’t appear in the sequence, the spite and charisma she shows while actually on camera precisely depicts the rage and hatred of the younger Oren Ishii.
6. Ali Larter – Obsessed
Ali Larter shows another side to her usually-seductive self in this suburban drama starring Beyonce Knowles. In Obsessed, Larter stars as an office-receptionist-turned-stalker who begins making her way too deep into the life of her former boss. As her advances become more and more invasive, Larter soon learns that she will have to take things to extreme to get past her crush’s wife, Beyonce. After numerous seductions, break-ins, and attempts at breaking the couple up, Beyonce decides that enough is enough, and in the final scene starts a climatic fistfight with Larter, in which she shows herself to be truly psychotic and insane. The exceptionally-fun performance by Ali Larter goes to show that although blondes may have more fun, they are also willing to go to drastic disturbingly-murderous lengths to get it.
5. Abbey Lee – Neon Demon
The stunning Abbey Lee got her start modeling for such big name brands as Gucci and Rodarte and immediately started off her career walking for widely-known fashion shows, including Alexander McQueen and New York Fashion Week. The supermodel transitioned into acting in 2012 with her starring role in the Oscar-winning post-apocalyptic rollercoaster Mad Max: Fury Road, where she played one of the antagonist’s five beautiful brides. This stunning model and actress showcased her willingness to play truly disturbing character roles when she signed onto Nicholas Winding-Refn’s horror-fashion feature, Neon Demon. Starring alongside Elle Fanning, Lee plays Sarah, a supermodel nearing the end of her career, who struggles in every way to maintain her stance in the industry as a top model. After she witnesses Fanning’s character get cast instead of her for a runway show, Sarah realizes that she will no longer be one of the more prominently-cast models in the business and begins spiraling into a tantrum of messed-up behavior.
4. Helena Bonham Carter – Sweeney Todd
Helena Bonham Carter has given audiences a surmountable amount of eccentrically odd and disturbing performances. Amidst all of the dark, sinister roles that the Oscar nominee has played, such as The Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland to Bellatrix Lestrange throughout the Harry Potter franchise, no other roles performed by Helena Bonham Carter have been as disturbing as her performance as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Manipulating Sweeney Todd (played by Johnny Depp) into killing his former lover might be one of the more twisted things for someone to do in a movie, but what really takes the cake is her suggestion and actual enacting of her plan to kill and cook Mr. Todd’s victims, whom he kills upstairs in his barber shop. Through the power of cannibalism, Mrs. Lovett manages to restore the wealth of her restaurant in the London depression, all the while (nearly) managing to capture the heart of a raging musical serial killer. This was definitely one of Bonham Carter’s more disturbing roles.
3. Tilda Swinton – Okja
Probably one of the most diverse and versatile A-list celebrities in Hollywood, Tilda Swinton (Swilda) is distinguished for her binary-like appearance and her renaissance-woman demeanor, in which she has left her mark in realms such as live-performance art to humanitarian activism. Although truly mystifying and remarkably photogenic in appearance and on camera, Swinton has still portrayed some rather nasty and disgusting characters in movies. One of her more recently acclaimed roles as the C.E.O. Lucy Mirando in the critically-acclaimed feature Okja was truly retched. Tying in modern-day themes surrounding the cruelty of the meat and cattle farming industry, Swinton exhibits a perfect CEO-psychopath mentality, caring only about her business, power, and profit. Completely psychopathic and driven by success, Lucy Mirando shows that not even the pure heart of an innocent child can sway her from her lust for glory and recognition above that of her sister’s, Nancy Mirando, who is also played by Tilda Swinton. This is definitely one of the more sinister and disturbing roles played by the gorgeous Swilda.
2. Salma Hayek – From Dusk Till Dawn
Salma Hayek recently made headlines with her contemporary drama piece, Beatriz at Dinner, about the rise of sociopolitical and racial tensions at a wealthy man’s dinner party. The Oscar-nominated actress has usually kept to the more dramedy-type roles throughout her career, but has occasionally supplied the masses with truly horrifying and disturbing performances. One such instance is in Robert Rodriguez’ action-horror feature written by Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk Till Dawn, where she performs one of the most memorable dance scenes in movie history as the infamous Santanico Pandemonium. Seducing Quentin Tarantino and appealing to his widely-known foot fetish, the dancing Hayek seems insidiously playful, until revealing her truly repugnant vampire form. The transformation from sexy stage dancer to vile vampire freak shows Hayek to be a truly adept performer capable of taking on even the most extremely vile movie character roles.
1. Megan Fox
While it is no secret that Megan Fox has garnered a reputation for taking on movie roles more showcasing of a starlet’s physique, one can’t deny that she has given some unforgettably disturbing movie roles, most notably her role as Jennifer in Jennifer’s Body. Starring as Jennifer, the popular high school queen, Fox vocalizes incredibly hilarious one-liners and utilizes her looks in a rather comical manner as a demon that eats boys attracted to her. Although it is the demonic behavior that really sells the horror in Fox’s performance, it’s hard to deny that her pre-demon role was also quite disturbing, an example being her childish banter between her and a younger lesser known Chris Pratt, in which she shows herself to be “disturbingly” immature (although the immaturity definitely exemplified the chemistry between her and A-list comedy/action star, Chris Pratt.)
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