Another X-Men casting call, another X-Men film without Mister Sinister news. The X-Men universe films released thus far have slowly been revealing the major villains of the comic canon, including Magneto, the Sentinels, and most recently, Apocalypse, but the mutant formerly known as Nathanial Essex has thus far remained absent. It’s a curious omission. Sinister doesn’t quite enjoy the mainstream name value that some of the other previous X-Men movie villains do, but there was a time when he was arguably their most notable foe. In any case, he’s a great character that had played a hand in some classic X-Men moments.
As such, it’s impossible to imagine that he won’t be making an appearance in an X-Men film sometime in the near future. Really, the only question that is left to be addressed regarding Sinister’s film future is, “Who is going to play him?” As a human, Sinister was a hyper-intelligent scientist whose research could have changed the world. As a mutant, his powers rivals even the greatest warriors in the X-Men universe. In short, he’s going to be a choice role for whoever gets to play him. We just hope it’s one of these actors.
These are the top 15 Actors Who Could Play Mister Sinister.
15 Edgar Ramirez
Edgar Ramirez is an actor that doesn’t seem to fit the Sinister mold upon first glance. That could have something to do with his Venezuelan heritage, but it speaks more to the nature of the actors' work until this point. Ramirez has thus far been one of those actors that does a terrific job of making the most of the roles that have been given to him (such as his recent turn as Dr. Kamal Abdic in The Girl on the Train), but he’s hardly the first person you consider for most major roles.
Mister Sinister could be Ramirez’s chance to break that mindset. The role is a complicated one in that so many elements of the Sinister character (including his name) are examples of standard villainy. Yet, beneath those conventions is truly brilliant character design. Sinister is the type of villain whose desire to satisfy his own needs often leads him down unexpected paths. He’s a chameleon (or a snake in the grass if you will), which is why it would be great to see an actor that isn’t instantly recognizable take a stab at the role. The fact that Ramirez is actually quite intelligent himself (he speaks several languages) certainly doesn’t hurt.
14 Michael McElhatton
It feels somewhat insulting to suggest that Michael McElhatton’s breakout role didn’t come until he portrayed Roose Bolton in Game of Thrones, considering that the man has been a steadily employed film and television actor since the late ‘90s, but there is some truth to it. Given a major stage on which to show off his talents, McElhatton managed to steal nearly every scene he was in (and several of which that saw him only receive a mention) by showcasing that rare breed of quiet evil that we so often hear about, but rarely get to enjoy.
It’s the man’s ability to project a mile of rage by moving his hand an inch that makes him such an attractive proposition for this role. Sinister isn’t above the occasional ham-fisted moment of villainy, but you’re more often going to find him subtly dancing around the heads of his enemies in order to soften them up or have them outright destroy themselves. McElhatton is an expert when it comes to creating tension meant to amplify that moment when the villain finally makes his move.
13 Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Jonathan Rhys Meyers has had something of an up and down career. On the up, you have his run on The Tudors and his film career that surrounded that role. During that time (roughly 2007-2010) Myers converted his good looks and natural charisma into stardom. He was the kind of actor you cast if you were in need of a magnetic leading man or maybe just a charismatic supporting actor that is written to steal the show. Meyers’ downward slope came some time after, when the actor began to take on more questionable roles and allegedly endured some hard times in his personal life.
The latest reports suggest that Rhys Meyers is back to his old self physically speaking, which is great news for those who always saw him as the spitting image of Mister Sinister. Meyers’ somewhat skeleton face and lanky features would fit a film version of Sinister’s suit well, and the actor never really stopped having that natural magnetism that helps any scene he’s in feel important.
12 Andrew Scott
Smug isn’t a good look most people. Nobody has ever been caught saying “They’re a fine person, but they could stand to be a little smugger.” Smug is an admirable quality for some actors, however. That’s especially true for actors like Andrew Scott, who are able to step into the shoes of the most needlessly cocky characters and genuinely get under the skin of the audience. Whether he’s playing Professor Moriarty to perfection on Sherlock or the man threatening to shut down the “00” program in Spectre, Scott excels at those facial expressions and other actions that define smugness.
Sinister isn’t a villain that is typically described as being self-satisfied, but it’s an interpretation of the character that isn’t too far removed from canon. After all, when you’re one of the most powerful mutants in the world and have a fondness for total domination, there are going to be moments when you exhibit an undesirable amount of cockiness. If that is the approach that someone eventually takes with the film version of Sinister, Scott is the man for the job.
11 Luke Evans
Much like Edgar Ramirez, Luke Evans is one of those actors currently floating along the edge of superstardom, just waiting to break through. Appropriately enough, the two even co-starred in The Girl on the Train. Whether it’s just his natural acting style or just a side-effect of his chosen roles, Evans has exhibited a particular knack for scene chewing. That didn’t help him rescue movies like Dracula Untold and the Clash of the Titans remake from the bottom of the barrel, but it did at least ensure that people walked away from those movies insisting that Evans did the best he could with the material he was given.
It’s time that the man’s overachieving (and occasional overacting) be put to good use. There’d likely be very little subtlety to Evans' version of Sinister, which isn’t really a problem when you consider that not every film adaptation of a comic book villain needs to be grounded in subtlety to work. Evans would be a tremendous on-screen presence as the infamous X-villain, and a welcome shot-in-the-arm after Oscar Isaac's wholly underwhelming take on Apocalypse.
10 Andrew Divoff
The sixty-one-year-old Andrew Divoff has been there and back again across his film career. He cut his teeth on the ‘80s television circuit making appearances on programs such as Matlock and MacGyver, but it wasn’t until he transitioned to film in the ‘90s that he really started to earn a reputation for as a natural on-screen villain. Actually, more than just a great villain, Divoff is the kind of villainous actor that excels at playing evil characters whose true intentions are hidden behind false hope. See his leading role in Wishmaster or his time as Mikhail Bakunin on Lost for proof of this skill.
So, if you can get past the actor’s age and other differentiations from the comic book version of Sinister, you do start to see that there are quite a few elements of the Sinister character that Divoff could nail. Besides, is an older version of Sinister really that bad? Most of Divoff’s features will be hidden behind layers of makeup, meaning that only the actor’s particular skills would come through.
9 Mark Strong
It seems like Mark Strong is always in the conversation whenever someone is looking to cast a hostile British type. If you’re looking for someone to blame…well, blame Strong. That brand of typecasting is bound to happen when you spend years playing a particularly good hostile British type. When the 53 year old speaks, he has the ability to sound like an authoritative presence on a variety of subjects. This is why, despite his obvious ability to play evil characters, he’s also proven to be just warm enough to ensure that you aren’t in too much of a hurry to see those baddies he plays get defeated.
Call him an obvious choice for just about any British villain, but there’s a good reason that the obvious choices sometimes earn that distinction. Strong’s Sinister would likely focus more on the character’s considerable abilities and less on his manipulative side. That’s perfect for a more action-oriented approach, as Strong is able to get a lot out of fewer lines of dialog and could really play up the character’s almost vampiric qualities.
8 David Gyasi
David Gyasi’s race is an elephant in the room as it concerns the casting of Mister Sinister. So far as that goes, the one thing to consider is that Sinister has been so warped over the years by genetic experimentation, that you can’t really classify him using any human descriptions. Besides, the actor playing the character is likely going to be the beneficiary of so much make-up that the final design is roughly going to look the same regardless of who is playing him. Call it movie magic.
Movie magic might also be what you get if someone does decide to cast Gyasi as Sinister. Gyasi has the right build to play Sinister for sure, and he’s also got the right temperament. No matter what direction an adaptation eventually goes with the Sinister character, it would be best if the person playing them is able to emotionally explode on a dime. Gyasi can certainly do that and this would also be an excellent opportunity for the underrated and highly capable actor to flesh out his villainous side.
7 Clive Owen
What comic book adaptation dream casting list would be complete without a mention of Clive Owen? What is it about the veteran actor that inspires so many comic fans to hastily throw his name into the ring whenever a potential role is in play? It’s a fair question that can honestly be answered with the word “talent.” Clive Owens’ comic book looks (that’s meant as a compliment) and suave demeanor makes it that much easier to picture the man in a variety of roles, but at the end of the day, Owen is a supremely talented actor that almost always makes an impression.
Sinister would represent a bit of a departure from the roles that Owen usually takes on, in the sense that it would require the actor to become unhinged. Sinister is a villain who always attempts to be in control, but he’s also a villain that's known for coming unglued at a moment’s notice. That’s a bit of a departure from some of the impossibly calm characters the actor has played, but Owen has exhibited that quality just enough in his career to make the prospect of a whole movie featuring that side of him quite exciting.
6 Hugh Laurie
Hugh Laurie has had a varied acting career to say the least. He rose to prominence as something of a bumbling idiot on the BBC classic Blackadder, but eventually made a successful transition to drama. American audiences still best recognize the veteran British actor for his work on House where Laurie played one of the great medical drama antiheroes. If there’s one thing that Laurie hasn’t gotten to do nearly enough throughout his career, it’s play a true villain. His rise in popularity meant that Laurie began taking on more heroic (sometimes family friendly) roles, meaning that his best bad guy work is relegated to the past.
It’s time that Laurie embraces his dark side once more by playing Mister Sinister. The actor’s almost bored way of delivering intelligent lines makes him easy to cast a hyper-intelligent villain, and Sinister’s largely psychopathic skill set means that he doesn’t even need to really worry about being able to pull off action sequences. It's doubtful this would be a popular studio pick, but it sure is an interesting one.
5 Lennie James
At the moment, Lennie James is enjoying what is commonly referred to as The Walking Dead lifestyle. It’s a state of existence that comes when you happen to be a cast member on one of television's biggest shows. Along with the considerable perks this lifestyle comes with, it also carries the considerable downside of potentially never being able to escape your popular character. Should that happen to Lennie James, it would be a real shame. James is a fantastically versatile actor who has always shown a particular ability to play a character whose evil simmers rather than boils.
He would be the Mister Sinister you can imagine patiently planning the massacre of hundreds of mutants or plotting revenge against Scott Summers. In short, he would help to exemplify some of the qualities that have helped make Sinister stand out from the rest of the rogues while the special effects team did their job and created plenty of moments of mutant power-fueled rampages that James would lend spirit to.
4 Ralph Fiennes
It’s difficult to say that Ralph Fiennes continues to get better with age, as it seems to imply that there was a point when the man wasn’t at his best. Still, there’s no denying that each passing year reveals some new layer of Fiennes’ talent that at least didn’t appear to be there before. The one thing that nobody has ever denied about Fiennes at any stage of his career, however, is that the man knows how to play a truly great film villain. We’re sure that Fiennes is a fine human being, but if we ever saw him walking down the street, our first instinct would be to turn the other way while cursing ourselves for not getting an autograph.
In fact, it’s almost too much to bear that we got to see Fiennes play such a perfect chalky skin, cackling villain in Harry Potter. It makes it that much more difficult to not picture him as a perfect Mr. Sinister. Fiennes ability to disappear into a role would help offset his name value and make it that much easier to buy into his character, and his dynamic range would help sell those moments Sinister goes from methodical to mad.
3 Bryan Cranston
Bryan Cranston is a longshot contender, to say the least, but that doesn’t make him any less of an intriguing one. He’s indicated in the past that he would love to do a comic book movie (specifically the role of Mister Sinister) and, with the exception of his Batman: Year One appearance as Jim Gordon, it’s something that he hasn’t really had the chance to do. Still, at a glance, Cranston isn’t really a fit for the Sinister role. He’s not British, he’s not physically imposing, and he might be a little too much of a known quantity.
As in most cases where the praises of Cranston are to be sung, however, this selection ultimately comes back to Cranston's Breaking Bad role. Cranston has more range than many other actors working today. If Mr. Sinister’s human origins are going to be explored in a movie, then Cranston would do a terrific job of showcasing the full history of the character. However, the actor’s ability to portray a complicated character would be especially beneficial when you account for the character’s Walter White-like ability to be a genius one moment and a sociopath the next.
2 Iwan Rheon
Poor Iwan Rheon. No matter what this incredibly talented young actor does in his career, he’ll always have to escape the image of Ramsay Bolton. Given that Rheon played that character so well that he was able to elevate him above his literary roots and beyond even King Joffrey on the pantheon of Game of Thrones’ most evil characters, that could take quite the effort. On the other hand, maybe Rheon should embrace the newfound image of pure evil by playing one of the X-Men’s greatest villains.
Indeed, Rheon’s stint as the bastard Bolton really is one of the best resumes one could have when applying for the Sinister job. The two aren’t characters mirror images of one another, but each does exhibit untold hostility and a conniving ruthlessness that stems from their desire to have everlasting power. Design-wise, Sinister is a cool villain, but his actions make him impossible to sympathize with more often than not. Rheon is one of those actors that is capable of playing a true villain and ensuring that you do not sympathize with him.
We should point out that we have in the past suggested that the 31 year old to step into the adamantium claws of a certain other mutant character in the Marvel world. Basically, if Rheon wants to play an X-Men character, then we're cool with it no matter what.
1 Colin Firth
Life is funny. Just a few years ago, the thought of Colin Firth (a man whose roles were typically either of the romantic comedy or Oscar-winning drama variety) playing a supervillain was laughable. Now, it’s almost impossible to think of anyone that would be better suited for the part in a dream casting scenario. What changed? So far as Firth’s talents go, nothing much has. As it concerns the fan perception of those talents, Firth’s role in Kingsman: The Secret Service would be the quick answer to that question.
Much like how Liam Neeson announced to the world that he’s a pretty great action star with his performance in Taken, Kingsman was Firth’s chance to loosen up and play an action hero. He did not disappoint. Yet, there was also just enough ruthlessness to his character in that movie that it got some people talking about the possibility of Firth taking things one step further and playing a supervillain. So far as that goes, he has every tool (physically and talent-wise) needed to make the absolute best Mister Sinister we could ever hope to see.
Who would you like to see play Mister Sinister? Do you think we'll catch the character in Logan, or will we be waiting a while yet to see the mutant baddie on the big screen? Let us know in the comments.