Movie monsters are all too often seen as little more than creations of CGI and other visual effects. But not unlike the heroes who face off against them, the truly special ones are fully formed characters dependent on flesh and blood people to give them that spark of life that keeps them in our collective conscience for years to come. In fact, the earliest practitioners of villainy owed little to movie magic and more to the words on a page and the mastery of highly skilled performers.
While some of the monstrosities we are about to share are more fully formed than others, they all became famous the old-fashioned way…by inflicting horror on a world that just doesn’t understand the inner pain that motivates them. Few of these movie monsters actually view themselves as being the bad guys, though many of them are.
We’re here to pay tribute to the stars that did justice to these inner struggles. Here’s 15 Movie Monsters Played By More Than One Actor.
15. Fisherman/Ben Willis (…What You Did Last Summer)
Ben Willis (aka The Fisherman) is the central antagonist of the I Know What You Did Last Summer films. Willis snapped when a car crash involving his daughter and her boyfriend killed his little girl. On the night he had just finished dispatching of the surviving boyfriend, a group of drunk kids slammed into him with their car and dropped him in the lake before promptly fleeing the scene. Feeling a bit vengeful over the whole being maimed thing, Willis goes on a rampage that spans three films (yep, three).
In the first two, I Know and I Still Know, actor Muse Watson does the stalking. For the direct-to-video finale, I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, Michael Myers alum Don Shanks brings things to a close, but he didn’t get to have as much fun as Watson did in the part. For starters, I’ll Always Know sucks pretty hard; but then, so does I Still Know. However, Watson at least gets to chew on some scenery at the end of part one. You also get to see more of what motivates his actions, while Shanks pretty much just swings a hook.
14. Predator from The Predator film series, Alien vs. Predator
Technically, the Predators are different monsters in each film, but not really. They all pretty much look and act the same (with occasional nuances), so let’s not complicate things. It’s hard to believe the original Predator was the same adorable guy who gave us Harry from Harry and the Hendersons, Kevin Peter Hall. The 7’3 actor died way too young from AIDS-related pneumonia just shy of his 36th birthday, after contracting HIV from a blood transfusion. However, he did live long enough to play Predator in the 1990 sequel.
After that, the role transferred to Ian Whyte, who played all three Predator creatures in 2004’s Alien vs. Predator. Whyte (who’s best known for playing various roles on Game of Thrones, including Wun Wun the Giant and, briefly, The Mountain) would reprise his role in AVP: Requiem, and be joined by actors Bobby Jones as the “Bull” Predator and Ian Feuer as a third less memorable colleague. Neither film is well-remembered among fans, but the follow-up Predators is considerably better received, and it, too, brings three separate actors to the table for a welcome dose of horror. Derek Mears — who starred as Jason from the Friday the 13th reboot — is the “Classic” Predator in this film. His colleagues are the “Falconer,” “Berserker,” and “Tracker” Predators. The first two of these are played by Brian Steele, who has made a career of playing monsters and evildoers, from Terminators to Hellboy creatures. The third is the work of Carey Jones.
13. Michael Myers from the Halloween Series
Michael Myers’ cold, emotionless ways lend themselves to just about any actor on the market. He was first played in adult form by Tony Moran for the only “unmasking” scene in the series that results in a clear look at the cold-blooded killing machine’s face. Nick Castle handled “Shape” duties the rest of the time. For Halloween II (1981), Dick Warlock took over, and that would be the last audiences saw of Myers until Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers in 1988. Here, he would be played by George P. Wilbur, but only for a single outing.
Don Shanks took on the character in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. Wilbur would return to the role for the follow-up, along with some reshoots using A. Michael Lerner. For the higher profile Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, thanks solely to the return of Jamie Lee Curtis, director Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Parts II and III) tapped Chris Durand. Brad Loree closed out the “prime” series with the dismal Halloween: Resurrection three years later. After the initial eight films, director Rob Zombie took over with a reboot film in 2007, where he brought on Tyler Mane, who would then reprise the role in the 2009 sequel. In all, 10 films, nine actors.
We couldn’t begin to track down every single actor who has portrayed some form of the Dracula creation that author Bram Stoker first wrote about in 1897. Therefore, we’re going to just stick with some of the most noteworthy favorites. The first major film version of the character was brought to life by Bela Lugosi. However, prior to that film, Max Schreck did a hellish, rat-like version of the character in 1921’s Nosferatu, which is essential viewing for any horror fan. Additionally, Carlos Villarias did a pretty excellent Spanish-language version that was filmed at the same time and on the same lot as the 1931 Lugosi creation.
The next really good Dracula after that was Christopher Lee, who played the bloodsucker in Hammer’s series of films. There was The Horror of Dracula in 1958; Dracula: Prince of Darkness in 1966; Dracula Has Risen from the Grave in 1968; Taste the Blood of Dracula in 1970; Scars of Dracula, also 1970; Dracula A.D. 1972,; and The Satanic Rites of Dracula, from 1973. Other “official” parts of these series were Brides of Dracula and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. Lee wasn’t in either film.
After Universal and Hammer, there was a serious lag in Dracula portrayals. Oh sure, the character still showed up, but he was usually forgettable. Then came Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of the original source material, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This is about as good as it gets for the Count, and most of that is thanks to Gary Oldman’s interpretation of the character. He’s young. He’s old. He’s hideous. He’s handsome. He’s sympathetic. He’s utterly horrifying. Seek out this one as well as the 1979 film starring Frank Langella, and you’re good to go.
11. Frankenstein’s Monster
Frankenstein’s Monster doesn’t have quite as many iterations worthy of a mention as, say, Dracula, but there are a few noteworthy ones we’d like to acknowledge. Boris Karloff is the most iconic version of the character, of course. He played the creature in the 1931 Universal Pictures original, as well as the followups Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein. For Universal’s fourth entry, The Ghost of Frankenstein, Lon Chaney, Jr. took over. Lugosi played him in the next feature, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, and it all gets pretty forgettable after that.
Despite the Hammer Films series having its moments, it was ultimately Christopher Lee as the Monster in the initial The Curse of Frankenstein that offered the best interpretation of the character for the British film studio. David Prowse — yes, Mr. Darth Vader himself — also made Monster appearances in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. Also worthy of a look: Nick Brimble as the Monster in Frankenstein Unbound, Robert De Niro in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Randy Quaid in the 1992 version, and Clancy Brown in The Bride (1985).
10. Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Series
In all, there have been eight actors that have portrayed Leatherface since the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films came into existence in 1974. The first, and most well-known, was the late Gunnar Hansen. That said, there is only one actor to play the part more than once, and that honor goes to Andrew Bryniarski (the 2003 remake and its 2006 prequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning). Filling in the gaps, Bill Johnson played the part in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2; R.A. Mihailoff and Kane Hodder did the honors in part three; and Robert Jacks in TCM: The Next Generation.
Since Bryniarski stepped away from the role, just two other actors have taken on the flesh-mask. You’ve seen one already — Dan Yeager — with Texas Chainsaw 3D in 2013. The next interpretation will be in the hands of Sam Strike (Johnny Carter from EastEnders). Now in post-production, the film is supposedly another prequel, this time set around Leatherface’s teen years.
9. Leprechaun from the Leprechaun Series
Warwick Davis is, for many, the only Leprechaun around. He first appeared alongside Jennifer Aniston in the 1993 original and would go on to reprise the role five more times in parts two, three, four (in space!), five (in “tha hood”), and six (back to “tha hood”). WWE Films got the rights to revisit this horror series a few years ago, however, and did so with 2014’s abysmal Leprechaun: Origins.
On paper, the McMahon family had an interesting idea. Reboot a marginally successful horror series with a more serious, stark tone. Hide the creature as much as possible before allowing all hell to break loose in the final moments. It’s textbook monster movie-making 101, really.
Unfortunately, if you’re going to do something like that, you need to be able to build suspense and have characters people actually care about. That didn’t happen here. It was also of little note that Dylan Mark Postl (the wrestler Hornswoggle) took over for Davis, because you don’t get to appreciate anything about his performance due to all the makeup and concealment.
8. Harry Warden from My Bloody Valentine/MBV3D
Harry Warden was the initial killer in the two My Bloody Valentine films. Despite having only a brief reign of terror in comparison to some of the other movie monsters on this list, he is worthy of a mention. Warden was a miner left to die after his mine collapsed due to negligence of the townsfolk in Valentine Bluffs. Concerned more with the Valentine’s Day dance than the safety of its workers, the parties responsible for watching over the mine’s gas levels did a poor job. Warden was the only survivor of the resulting explosion/cave-in. The only way he managed to live long enough for a rescue team to get him was by eating the dead bodies trapped alongside him. Naturally, such an event…pushed him over the edge a bit.
And while the murders central to the plot of both films are not actually Harry himself — but rather someone dressed as Harry — it’s his murderous spirit that wins this header! Peter Cowper played Warden (aka “The Miner”) in the first film. For the 2009 remake, the honor went to Richard John Walters, whom you probably recognize as Tezcatlipoca from Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies. No, just us?
7. The Mummy from Universal, Hammer Franchises
The Mummy has shown up in many forms over the years, but only starred in three primary film series, including the Universal Pictures franchise of the ’30s, the Hammer Film series from 1959 to 1971, and the Stephen Sommers reboot that somehow spawned The Scorpion King. This horror villain, a companion to Frankenstein and Dracula, doesn’t take his origins from a great piece of literature, but from one of the world’s oldest civilizations and its famous burial practices.
Universal set the tone for plot with its initial 1932 film The Mummy, starring Boris Karloff in the titular role. Tom Tyler stepped in for part two (The Mummy’s Hand). From there, Lon Chaney, Jr., took over and starred in a trilogy (The Mummy’s Tomb, The Mummy’s Ghost, and The Mummy’s Curse) before handing things off to Eddie Parker for the final film in the series, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.
Switching gears to Hammer, Christopher Lee (seriously, this guys was everywhere) kicked off the series as the Mummy character of Kharis. He was followed by Dickie Owen (The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb), Eddie Powell (The Mummy’s Shroud), and Valerie Leon (Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb). The 1959 original was based on two of the Universal sequels (Hand and Tomb), while the final film was derived from a Bram Stoker novel called The Jewel of Seven Stars.
The Sommers films that modern moviegoers are most familiar with were updates of the Universal franchise, and they starred Arnold Vosloo as the titular monster in the first two entries. The third, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, starred Jet Li. There is a June 2017 release date on a reboot headlined by Tom Cruise, in which up-and-comer Sofia Boutella has been cast as a female mummy/resurrected queen.
6. Phantom of the Opera
In 1916, Gaston Leroux’s classic tale of romantic horror, Das Phantom der Oper.,became one of the earliest horror stories to ever be produced as a longform feature. The film, unfortunately, did not survive the test of time, so the earliest version we have access to is the 1925 classic starring Lon Chaney, Sr. Chaney terrified audiences with his rendition of the character despite of utilizing very little makeup for the big reveal scene. A second major feature, and first American “talkie,” was released 18 years later starring Claude Rains as the villain.
Hammer also did a noteworthy adaptation of the story in 1962, casting Herbert Lom as the Phantom. This one is more of a remake of the Rains version than a straight adaptation of the book. Robert Englund himself did a fun horror movie version in 1989 that combines future and past, and somehow manages to be one of the more faithful film versions — if you’re looking for something closer to Leroux (decapitations aside). Last but not least, Joel Schumacher adapted the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical for the big screen in 2004 and tapped Gerard Butler for the eponymous role.
One more note before leaving the Phantom behind: this is an extremely limited list of films, chosen mainly because they are more directly connected to the book. The Phantom is a character who has appeared more in derivative works, so Phantom-like villains in other films could fill a full volume.
5. Gill-man from the Creature from the Black Lagoon Series
The Gill-man starred in three popular horror/sci-fi thrillers during the ‘50s, starting with Creature from the Black Lagoon and continuing to Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. In each of the films, he was portrayed by Ricou Browning for the underwater sequences. While on land, actors Ben Chapman, Tom Hennesy, and Don Megowan took over for parts one, two, and three, respectively.
Following the horror series, Gill-man would take a lighter approach to life as Uncle Gilbert in the Munsters, where he was played by Richard Hale for one episode and could actually speak. A modified version would also appear in The Monster Squad, played by Tom Woodruff, Jr., who would later star as Pumpkinhead in the 1988 original and some of the Aliens in the Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator series. A remake has been in the works since the ‘90s. We wouldn’t suggest holding your breath while you wait for that to happen, since the last serious mention of a potential project came back in 2007.
4. The Wolf Man from the Universal Series
Universal’s first werewolf feature came about six years before its most famous work. Werewolf of London (1935) starred Henry Hull in the titular role, but it didn’t connect with audiences in the same way as 1941’s The Wolf Man. The missing ingredient? Lon Chaney, Jr. Unlike with many of Universal’s movie monsters, the role didn’t get passed around. It was embraced fully by Chaney, who took it on in not just the original, but in all four sequels, which included Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
Chaney would be the only Wolf Man if not for the Joe Johnston remake in 2010. Revisiting the character of Lawrence Talbot, Johnston cast Benicio del Toro in the lead role. The film didn’t quite live up to expectations, unfortunately. Produced for $150 million, it only managed to gross $139 million worldwide. Despite that, Universal does not appear to be done with the character. A reboot is planned for March 2018, possibly starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the lead role. (Doesn’t every big-budget flick these days?)
3. Darth Vader from the Star Wars Saga
Darth Vader certainly belongs on this list. After all, he was either a villain or an insufferable whine bag throughout much of the Star Wars saga (sorry, prequel lovers, it’s true). We’re going to skip the “Ani” version of the character (seen in The Phantom Menace as Jake Lloyd and Attack of the Clones as Hayden Christensen), and just get right down to business with Revenge of the Sith.
Yes, Christensen does a version of the character in the film’s final moments. He takes out an entire jedi temple of younglings off-screen and then cries his way through a final duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) before getting unleashed in the form we all know and love for a brief moment at the end. Here, he is played by Gene Bryant, who has a short resume filled with mostly uncredited television and film roles.
In A New Hope, British power lifter David Prowse wore the mask and wielded the saber. It was a role he would reprise in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and outside of the voice work of James Earl Jones (on every interpretation of the character), his version is the most famous. He had a little more assistance in ROTJ from veteran actor Sebastian Shaw, who plays Vader in the unmasking scene at the end.
In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jones will return to provide the character’s legendary vocals, but Prowse is no longer fit for the part — it has been 30 years — so he will get relief from a number of rather large actors. The only name we’ve heard associated with the part, at this point, is Victor Frankenstein’s Spencer Wilding. Take a wild guess on who he played in that film.
2. Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street Series
Most horror movie fans will agree there is only one Freddy Krueger, and he comes in the form of wisecracking acting vet Robert Englund. Englund’s performance as the burned maniac lasted for six “prime” films, one meta sequel (Wes Craven’s New Nightmare), and Freddy vs. Jason, so eight altogether. He also did some work on the horror series Freddy’s Nightmares, though in a much lower-key capacity. When the inevitable sequel came together in 2010, there was a dilemma, because no one would accept a non-Englund Freddy, but they couldn’t really reboot a series with the same actor, either.
Honestly, they found a pretty good solution in Jackie Earle Haley, who was hot off his scene-stealing performance as Rorschach from 2009’s Watchmen. Haley growled his way through the film with a new interpretation of Jason that was darker and much closer to Englund’s initial portrayal in the 1984 original. The film failed to get over with audiences, though, and so any remaining hope for seeing him don the fedora and blades again has all but vanished into the dream world.
1. Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th Series
Jason Voorhees was merely a legend (that turned out to be “true”) in the first Friday the 13th (1980). The real killing was done by — spoiler alert — Pamela Voorhees, the poor dead kid’s surviving mother. Jason was supposed to have been watched. But the counselors weren’t paying any attention. They let him drown. Look what they did to him. Look what they did to him!
Okay, sorry, got carried away there for a moment. No, after Mother Voorhees had her head lopped off, we later found out that Jason was still alive and had witnessed his mother’s death at the hands of the surviving counselor. Now a fully grown, hulking madman, he sliced and diced his way through 10 movies. (Part five was a copycat.)
While Ari Lehman was the initial boy Jason, we’ll focus here on just the grown-up forms. In part two, we had Warrington Gillette as Jason unmasked and Steve Daskawisz as hooded Jason; part three, Richard Brooker; part four, Ted White; part six, C.J. Graham; parts 7-10, Kane Hodder; Freddy vs. Jason, Ken Kirzinger; and the 2009 remake, Derek Mears. Hodder is the actor most associated with Jason, and with good reason. He tried to incorporate what emotions he could into the movements and gestures. That’s not to say his films are the best, though. Far from it, in fact; but under Hodder’s steady, machete-swinging hand, Jason became a distinguishable madman from the other movie monsters.
A reboot’s been in development hell forever.
So you see, they strike fear into the bravest souls, but in the end, they’re just people like us. Which version of these characters are your favorites, and who else should we have included on the list? Sound off in the comments section.
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