Creating The Perfect Villain

Creating The Perfect Villain 

By Jacob Krueger

Creating a believable antagonist is about more than just coming up with nefarious plans.  It’s about stepping into the world view of your villain, and asking yourself what really makes them tick.  When written right, a great villian not only ups the stakes of your screenplay, but also pushes your main character in profound ways, that force them to confront their own flaws and go on a powerful journey.

In this video, I’ll be discussing some of the the great villains in film history, Pan’s Labyrinth’s fascistic antagonist Captain Vidal and Star Wars’ iconic symbol of evil, Darth Vader. You”ll learn what made these antagonists so believable, what drives them, and how you can apply the lessons of these characters to your own writing.

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  1. Maria 10 years ago

    Thank you Jake. That was real good. I’m working on that just now with one of my characters and it seems I’m on the right track. (Probably because I have such great teachers;)
    I miss your classes! I have to sit in one of them soon. All the best, Maria

    • Jacob Krueger 10 years ago

      Thanks Maria! Glad things are going well with your Personal Training sessions! Hope to see you soon.

  2. Oliver 10 years ago

    Thank you! I love this! I Love Great Bad Guys!

  3. Ray Tapia 10 years ago

    “RAMON #17988” (book/film treatment) by Ray “Ramon” Tapia
    “THE GREY MARE” (screenplay) by Jack Young, Young Films)

    Thank you, Jacob: The protagonist is clearly defined in the above; the antagonist slips from one villain to another, understandably in a 10-year plot.

    Now, however, I will re-think the antagonist, harmoniously merging as a composite character.

    Jack Young has given-up; even so, I will pursue!

    • Jacob Krueger 10 years ago

      That’s great Ray! Although I’d be curious about the instinct that drove you to create multiple antagonists… obviously that’s unusual in films, but screenplays are not a one-size-fits-all art form. So before you make a huge decision like creating a composite character (even though it may be the right one) you may want to explore what the current antagonists are doing in the screenplay, what initially drew you to that idea, and how to hold onto the elements that matter to you even as you change the execution of those elements. If you’d like to discuss this further with someone, I can hook you up with one of my writing coaches, who can work through your screenplay with you and make sure you’re staying true to your impulses even as you refine your craft.

  4. Bob 10 years ago


    Thank you for a totally clear, succinct description of the importance of writing a true antagonist.

    I can see that all too often I’ve written my bad guy as an intelligent and wily foil for my hero. But that’s why those plays may have been too shallow. I didn’t put the same kind of time and energy into
    getting into the world-view of my antagonist. Wanting to be an obstacle is not a goal.

    You’ve thrown a huge beam of light on this notion that antagonists must have a rationale they’re telling themselves which lets them believe in their desires.

    And most important, these desires are just as important as the main character’s desire.

    So not only will the antagonist feel more real, but so will the protagonist! Because both characters want something that is true.

    Wow. In five minutes you’ve given me years of writing more effectively. Thanks again. You’re amazing!

    • Jacob Krueger 10 years ago

      Thanks so much Bob! I’m glad it was helpful! Would love to know more about what you’re writing.

  5. Colin 10 years ago

    That was extremely insightful.

  6. The Truth 10 years ago

    Solid and helpful video, but someone has to call you out on completely butchering the Star Wars reference…

    At the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI, Luke says to EMPEROR PALPATINE, “your OVERCONFIDENCE is your weakness,” and the EMPEROR replies, “your FAITH IN YOUR FRIENDS is yours.” Because Luke thinks his friends are about to blow up the Death Star and the Emperor thinks it’s impenetrable.

    Point taken anyway. Thanks!

  7. JesterTrick 10 years ago

    Thank you! This is sooooo what I needed right now!

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