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The 10 Most Disturbing Movie Performances Ever

21 April 2013 | Features, Other Lists | by Tyler Harris

disturbing performances

Acting is an art, and a mysterious one at that. When you look at it in its simplest form, many would say it’s really simply a bunch of grown people dressing in costumes and pretending as if they were other people, getting paid millions of dollars for it. But it’s not just that at all. Actors do what they do so that us cinephiles can indulge in our love for the cinema and escape from the harsh realities of the world. However, what happens when a performance in a film becomes too real and too scary? Well, naturally, it disturbs its viewers.

These are 10 of the most frightening acting performances of all time. Actors and actresses who willingly slipped into the deep, dark corners of the universe to portray a film’s antagonist, and may have gone a little too far…


10. Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight


Many credit this role as one of the attributing reasons for Ledger’s alleged suicide, saying he slipped too deep into the role. Even if the role did have something to do with his death, though, he still pulled off a fantastic job, and definitely deserved the Oscar he was awarded post-mortem. He’s the film’s crown jewel and without him Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film wouldn’t have been nearly as great.


9. Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in Misery

Annie Wilkes Misery

Misery, inspired by the Stephen King novel of the same name, was the film that launched the unknown Ms. Bates into stardom through her brutally disturbing portrayal as a woman with some serious dominance issues who’s transfixed on her favorite author. The infamous “ankle” scene is one for the ages, and still makes even the most hardcore horror film-lover squirm.


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  • Mark Harding

    Although the film sucked as a whole, I thought Kenneth McMillan’s take on the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Lynch’s Dune was pretty psychotic, gross and disturbing itself. He really made the Baron disgustingly sleazee as a fat slob of a pedophile. How can you not be repulsed by one who makes sexual advances on young boys and then pulls out their heart plug?

  • Mohit Kumar

    You forgot Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men”…

  • Aksel Winding Rose

    who is robert mitchem? , i only know robert mitchum