25 Female Villains Who Break the Mold and Feel Like Authentic Women

Female villains have occupied both extremes of the evil scale—extremely ruthless without compassion, scheming a devious plot filled with alibis or seductions that portray innocence. Either way, these depictions are relatable. Below are some female antagonists that have fascinated viewers, as suggested by an online discussion.

1. Louise Fletcher

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Louise Fletcher
Image Credit: United Artists.

Fletcher earned an Oscar for portraying Mildred Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The cruel, oppressive nurse who runs the hospital ward where the mentally unstable are treated. Her flawless performance helped the character become a symbol of institutionalized power abuse and one of the most recognizable movie villains ever.

2. Angelina Jolie

Maleficent Angelina Jolie
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Jolie plays the titular mistress of evil in Maleficent, who likes you begging,”Do it again.” The misunderstood sorceress whose steely exterior contradicts a heart of gold. Complete with twisted horns, razor-sharp cheekbones, piercing eyes, and a billowing black cloak; you need to be prepared for what comes.

3. Goldie Hawn

Death Becomes Her Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn) awaits seven years to exact revenge on Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep), her love rival in Death Becomes Her. She also consumes a concoction that claims to grant eternal youth to woo the man Meryl snatched from her and convince him to snub her old friend. Though it ends badly for all involved, you can't question Sharp's commitment.

4. Grace Jones

A View to a Kill Christopher Walken, Patrick Bauchau, Grace Jones
Image Credit: MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

In the 1985 007 spy film, Jones pulls off a formidable feat both as the secondary villain in A View To A Kill and as the greatest female villain in the industry. She serves as the bodyguard (main henchman) and lover of the main antagonist in the latter's lethal intention.

5. Faye Dunaway

Mommie Dearest Faye Dunaway, Mara Hobel
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Joan Crawford (Dunaway) is Mommie Dearest. The mother's abusive nature towards her adoptive daughter becomes more evident after a failed romantic attempt and her job layoff. Even when her daughter leaves home to start her life, Mommie's shadow is relentless in her abuse. Dearest could not be any more ironic.

6. Kate Winslet

Divergent Kate Winslet
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

The steel in her eyes when Jeanine Matthews, played by Winslet, orders a kill is matched by her disgust for the Divergent (those who exhibit qualities of more than one of the five factions to which humans are divided). She takes the liberty that there are more than enough replacements.

7. Glenn Close

Fatal Attraction Glenn Close
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Fearing for their safety, a generation of philandering men were deterred from committing adultery owing to Glenn Close's portrayal of Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction as a seductive publishing executive out to get Michael Douglas's happily married lawyer.

8. Sharon Stone

Basic Instinct Sharon Stone
Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.

Sharon Stone's Catherine Tramell is one of the most lethal femme fatales in movie history. She is the main suspect in the murder of a retired rock star in the era-defining sensual thriller Basic Instinct. Still, with her cocksure confidence, she harnesses the gift of seductive allure to outwit investigator Nick Curran and emerge victorious.

9. Kathy Bates

Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Bates, as Annie Wilkes, is a particularly unsettling figure in Misery. She appears to be the hero, but this quickly changes as viewers begin to fear for Paul as he struggles to flee the pain the woman who saved him put him through. Her many victims stretch back to her early childhood, with her first killing occurring when she was 11. Annie's loving façade saw her choose a nursing career with entirely different motives than saving people's lives.

10. Lena Headey

Dredd Lena Headey
Image Credit: Entertainment Film Distributors.

The facial scar and her love for violence lend credence to Ma-Ma's (Headey) reputation as a vicious drug lord. Dredd and rookie Cassandra must push their skills to the limit to bring her down. Against her stereotypical role as a woman, Headey hugely fulfills her role as the main antagonist.

11. Rosamund Pike

Gone Girl Rosamund Pike
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Pike's character, Amy Dunne, in Gone Girl, is clever, sneaky, and manipulative. She goes to great lengths to frame the guys who have wronged her in order to exact revenge on many of the men in her life. She may be one of the coldest antagonists in movie history. Yet, she keeps playing the helpless victim and does a beautiful job of convincing people around her, demonstrating how skilled a liar Dunne is and how professionally Pike is portraying the role.

12. Linda Fiorentino

The Last Seduction Linda Fiorentino
Image Credit: October Films.

Fiorentina's ability to project Bridget Gregory with a deliberate display of emotional neutrality and a deviation from the stereotype female antagonist summarizes her act in The Last Seduction.

13. Sarah Paulson

Run Sarah Paulson
Image Credit: Hulu.

Away from the stereotyped female bad girl is Diane Sherman, played by Paulson, in Run. To conceal her theft, she doses Chloe with pills that keep her attached to a wheelchair. Chloe eventually discovers this dark secret and, armed with the fact that Diane wants to keep her alive, has to flee for her life. Succeeding, she gives Diane a taste of her medicine.

14. Lucy Liu

Kill Bill Vol. 1 Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

O-Ren Ishii, the sword-wielding figure played by Lucy Liu, is graceful with decapitation, making her the most formidable foe in the unnamed bride's quest to Kill Bill, whose attack sent her into a coma. However, O-ren's mastery of the sword is not as conquering as the bride's vengeance driven by the loss of her unborn child.

15. Sophie Marceau

The World Is Not Enough Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau
Image Credit: MGM Distribution Co.

To have trumped Sharon Stone as the femme fatale in a James Bond thriller speaks volumes about Marceau's performance as Elektra King. True to the bond's family motto, “The World is Not Enough,” Pierce Brosnan champions the cause to rid King of the world. She is a seemingly innocent prey of the world's terrorists. But she is a scheming terrorist who cut off a portion of her ear to make her feigned abduction look genuine and ended her father's life. With her pedigree, she almost won the battle.

16. Bonnie Bedelia

Presumed Innocent Bonnie Bedelia, Jesse Bradford
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

A homicide case involving a lady had every suspect scrambling to hide potential evidence that may tie them to the case because they, at one time or another, had an affair with her. Without hard evidence, all were Presumed Innocent. The twist is Bedelia's character, the prosecutor's wife, and one of the accused, Barbara Sabich, committed the crime, avenging Carolyn's affair with her husband. Still, she escapes the handcuffs as all is blamed on her husband's desires.

17. Jennifer Aniston

Derailed Jennifer Aniston
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Blackmail riddles the crime thriller Derailed that features Aniston, not as a typical seductive fellow but as irresistibly attractive, in her Lucinda Harris role that perfectly catapulted a man like Charles Shine into an affair and scam. It took considerable payments in cash, defrauding his company, and the death of a friend before Schine realized his lover was in on the fraud.

18. Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron Monster
Image Credit: Newmarket Films.

The Broadcast Film Critics Award, the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Academy Award, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress were given to Theron for her outstanding performance in the titular role of Monster. She exhibited a great zeal to play, searching for clues about her past rather than trying to create a typical personality for the portrayal. 

19. Nicole Kidman

To Die For Nicole Kidman
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Nicole Kidman gives a stunning performance that stinks of deception in the satire as she leads us through Suzanne Stone's fame-obsessed path and psyche in To Die For. Kidman received the Best Actress in a Leading Role award from the British Academy Awards. 

20. Mary Tyler Moore

Ordinary People Mary Tyler Moore
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Moore exemplified resilience in overcoming her difficulties at the time to provide a magnificent portrayal of her character as Beth Conrad in Ordinary People that stunned spectators. She was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award. 

21. Catherine Keener

An American Crime Catherine Keener, James Franco
Image Credit: Showtime.

In the film An American Crime, Keener tries her hand beyond being successful at portraying one of the most heinous villains in the history of actual crime. The performance earned her two nominations and well-deserved wins at the Golden Globes and Primetime Emmys.

22. Stephanie Hsu

Everything Everywhere All at Once Stephanie Hsu
Image Credit: A24.

In the mind-bending, multiverse blockbuster Everything Everywhere All at Once, Joy, the misunderstood daughter of Evelyn, transforms into Jobu Tupaki, a force potent enough to wipe out all of humanity. Stephanie Hsu imbues Jobu with humanity, demonstrating to the audience why this recluse was drawn to the dark side.

23. Margot Robbie

Suicide Squad
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

To play Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie went through a remarkable change, wearing pink and blue-tipped platinum pigtails, deathly pale skin, frayed fishnets, and ripped T-shirts. A baseball bat is her preferred tool for pummeling her foes to a pulp.

24. Emma Stone

Cruella (2021) Emma Stone
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Emma Stone's character's penchant for kidnapping dogs is cruel. Her look, two-toned hair, and a devilish smirk dawned on a motorcycle jacket with sequined pants, a trash dress 40-foot-long, and a white cape that catches fire, is crueler. Her name? Cruella

25. Helena Bonham Carter

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Helena Bonham Carter
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Mrs. Lovett, played by Helena Bonham Carter, is the wife of Sweeney Todd and is not someone you want to mess with. Mrs. Lovett supports her husband's insane behavior by covering up his murders in inhumane ways that attract admiration for her cooking skills while she smiles to the cheers. If you don't find that terrifyingly pretentious, then I am ending this listicle.

Source: (Reddit).

Amaka Chukwuma is a freelance content writer with a BA in linguistics. As a result of her insatiable curiosity, she writes in various B2C and B2B niches. Her favorite subject matter, however, is in the financial, health, and technological niches. She has contributed to publications like Buttonwood Tree and FinanceBuzz in the past and currently writes for Wealth of Geeks.