How to Write a Villain Monologue

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From Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds to Agent Smith in The Matrix, the best villain monologues illuminate a film's themes while also providing actors with a feast of text to work with in order to create a memorable character. Discover how to write a gripping villain monologue.


What Is a Villain Monologue?

A villain monologue is a lengthy speech delivered by the antagonist, antihero, or "bad guy" in a screenplay. Monologues can address other characters in the scene or be delivered by a single character to themselves or the audience. In storytelling, monologues serve a specific purpose: they provide more information about a character or the plot to the audience. They can be used carefully to share a character's internal thoughts or backstory, or to provide more specific details about the story. The term "monologue" is derived from the Greek roots for "alone" and "speak," and it is the inverse of the term "dialogue," which is derived from the Greek word for "conversation."

Villain monologues can reveal the speaker's inner humanity or serve to highlight the bad guy's wickedness. Although strong actors can bring these characters to life, movie monologues begin with a great screenwriter.


How to Write a Villain Monologue

To create the best version of your villain monologue, follow these steps:

1. Identify the goal of the monologue. Monologues can advance the plot, explore character backstories, and much more. Understand how your monologue works and how it fits into the overall structure of your script. Make sure that every word you say is deliberate.

2. Listen to your monologue read aloud. When you've finished writing your monologue, read it aloud and then have an actor or peer read it to you. Consider how natural the speech sounds and whether your specific villain would deliver this monologue.

3. Instill truth in your villain. Though your character is made up, their evilness may be symbolic rather than realistic. Place the villain in context. Beyond their malice, villains should have goals, reasons for their actions, and a three-dimensional personality.

4. Experiment with various forms. Villain monologues come in a variety of styles. There are origin stories (in which a character explains why they act the way they do), torture descriptions (in which the villain describes the violence they intend to commit), and appeals for sympathy (in which a character expresses remorse for their wrongdoing).

5. Go over your monologue again. After drafting and hearing your monologue, make any necessary changes. Some sections may be unclear or overwritten; edit your writing until it conveys your intended message.


Tips for Writing Villain Monologues

These three pointers will assist you in writing lean and powerful villain monologues for your script or screenplay.

1. Oppose your protagonist's characteristics or speech patterns. If your protagonist speaks quickly and cheerfully, give your antagonist a dark, measured cadence. Villains can act as foils to your main characters, and monologues can highlight this contrast.

2. Position your villain monologue toward the end of the narrative. In some stories, but not all, the antagonist is a supporting character rather than the protagonist. As a result, you must allow the audience or readers time to become acquainted with the character. Only after that point, and often during a final confrontation, should your villain get their shining moment to change or confirm the audience's perceptions of this character.

3. Create a catchphrase for your villain. The power of threes is sometimes used by writers: Repetition is an effective tool, and repeating a phrase three times in a story can assist audiences in following a story's beginning, middle, and end. If your villain has a catchphrase, have them say it near the beginning, rising action, and climax.


Examples of Great Villain Monologues

There are many great monologues for movie villains in Hollywood. Some well-known examples from television and film include:

1. Apocalypse Now (1979): In his monologue, Colonel Kurtz describes the horrors of war, including poisoning children with polio. Kurtz concludes that the best soldier is one who is unable to feel and instead transforms into a killing machine devoid of empathy.

2. The Matrix (1999): When Agent Smith interrogates a captured Morpheus in the cyberpunk film The Matrix, he reveals his plan to destroy Zion, the underground city where those who have escaped the Matrix go to find freedom. The monologue emphasizes how Smith is Morpheus's opposite: The latter seeks to break free from it, while the former has chosen to live within a planned system.

3. The Incredibles (2004): Even an animated film can have a great villain monologue. Syndrome, a character in The Incredibles, tells his origin story: he was a fan of Mr. Incredible and wanted to be his sidekick, but Mr. Incredible rejected him. Syndrome became enraged and manifested artificial superpowers to wreak havoc on the Incredibles.

4. The Dark Knight (2008): This Christopher Nolan film, which takes place between Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight Rises (2008), features a few famous supervillain monologues from The Joker (2012). The Joker first tells Bruce Wayne's love interest Rachel about his scars, and then he tells Batman how similar the two are.

5. Inglourious Basterds (2009): Hans Landa, an anti-Semitic SS officer, delivers a monologue disparaging Jews and the police to hawks who must hunt rodents to keep the circle of life going. This film, set in World War II, and Landa's monologue highlight the ideologies that led to the persecution of countless lives.

6. Game of Thrones (2011–2019): Cersei Lannister is a power-hungry character who receives numerous monologues throughout the eight seasons of this hit HBO drama. She torments Ellaria Sand, who poisoned Cersei's daughter, near the end of the series. Cersei explains the retaliation she will exact on Ellaria's imprisoned daughter.

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