In BBC America and AMC’s supernatural horror series NOS4A2, Zachary Quinto‘s immortal villain Charlie Manx has much of his dirty work done by Bing Partridge (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), a hardworking henchman whose faithful service doesn’t always seem to be respected by his boss. At times, Partridge would have every right to wonder whether Manx is simply stringing him along.
With season two of NOS4A2 approaching its penultimate episode Sunday at 10pm EST, here’s a celebration of 10 other memorable henchmen from TV and the movies – including some who are technically henchwomen.
1. Luca Brasi in The Godfather
The brutish personal enforcer of Marlon Brando‘s mafia boss Vito Corleone is synonymous with the expression “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes,” meaning that his dead body has been dumped in the ocean. Director Francis Ford Coppola cast former wrestler Lenny Montana in the role because of his super-imposing physique and experience working as a real-life enforcer with the notorious Colombo crime family. Cleverly, he then used takes in which Montana stuttered a little – in his first big movie role, he was understandably nervous to be acting opposite Brando – to heighten the character’s deference toward Corleone. The result? A truly iconic cinema henchman.
2. Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies
Ralph Fiennes‘ evil Lord Voldemort has several menacing “Death Eaters” serving as his de facto henchmen, not least Alan Rickman‘s slippery, sinister, and ultimately double-crossing Severus Snape. But played with a brilliant manic intensity by Helena Bonham Carter (who’s clearly having a blast), Bellatrix Lestrange could be the most menacing of the lot. It’s her wildcard unpredictability that makes her such a threat: even when she’s down, you can never totally count her out.
3. Oddjob in Goldfinger
The loyal manservant of villainous Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), Harold Sakata’s Oddjob causes plenty of problems for Sean Connery‘s Bond without ever saying a word – he’s been called one of the greatest non-speaking characters in cinema. Director Guy Hamilton described Sakata as an “absolutely charming man” and incorporated some of the wrestler-turned-actor’s personal characteristics into the role, including his distinctive walk. There’s certainly no denying Sakata’s commitment – according to Bond legend, he was badly burned during Oddjob’s death scene, but kept on shooting until the director yelled “cut!”
4. Snoop in The Wire
Played by the actress-rapper of the same name, Felicia “Snoop” Pearson was described by Stephen King as “perhaps the most terrifying female villain to ever appear in a television series.” She makes her debut in season 3 of the revered crime drama, boasting that she’s helped to kill Idris Elba‘s Stringer Bell – a lie – but later goes on to commit many grisly murders for Jamie Hector‘s drug kingpin Marlo Stanfield. The actress’s incredibly tough upbringing definitely helped to inform her performance; before her TV breakthrough she worked as a drug dealer and completed prison time for second-degree murder.
5. Lance Bennett in Doctor Who
Not all henchmen are, well, hench. Some are more unassuming, like Lance Bennett (Don Gilet) from Doctor Who‘s 2006 holiday special “The Runaway Bride.” Working on behalf of the alien Racnoss Empress (Sarah Parish), he spikes the coffee of his fiancée Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) with a special particle which the Racnoss race use as an energy source. However, when Donna and David Tennant‘s Doctor manage to escape from the Empress’s grasp, she uses Lance as a substitute and duly feeds him to her children. What a way to say thank you!
6. Gregor Clegane in Game of Thrones
Hot-tempered henchman to Lena Headey‘s power-hungry Cersei Lannister, Gregor Clegane is so huge and hulking he’s nicknamed “The Mountain.” He’s played by three different actors: Conan Stevens in season 1, Ian Whyte in season 2, and Icelandic former basketball player Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson from season 4 onward. Despite the re-casts, The Mountain remains a cruel, malevolent presence throughout the show — we still have nightmares about his brutal murder of Pedro Pascal‘s beloved Oberyn Martell, so please watch/rewatch the below clip with caution. Then, there was the time in season 8 when he was ordered by Cersei to kill Nathalie Emmanuel‘s Missandei – one of Thrones‘ most controversial moments.
7. Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill: Volume 1
A deeply sadistic and highly skilled assassin, Chiaki Kuriyama‘s Gogo Yubari serves as personal bodyguard to Lucy Liu‘s O-Ren Ishii in the first Kill Bill movie. Her innocent schoolgirl look is a complete red herring: as Uma Thurman‘s The Bride accurately notes, “Gogo may be young, but what she lacks in age, she makes up for in madness.” During their head-to-head later in the movie, Yubari tells The Bride drily: “You can beg better than that.”
8. Bob the Goon in Batman
Prolific character actor Tracey Walter was perfectly cast as the Joker’s dependable henchman in 1989’s Batman: he and Jack Nicholson, who played the manic baddie, are frequent collaborators who’ve appeared together in nine movies over the years. The two actors have a natural screen chemistry which helps to highlight Bob the Goon’s loyalty to the Joker – a loyalty which isn’t enough to stop his boss from killing him at the climax. Ouch.
9. Victor from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul
Hardworking henchman to drug kingpin Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) in both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, Jeremiah Bitsui‘s Victor puts in years of sterling service, but it’s not enough to save him in the end. Spoiler warning: after Victor is spotted at the murder scene of meth-making chemist Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) in season 4 of Breaking Bad, he’s duly murdered by his own boss. Such is the life of a henchman, we suppose.
10. Major Arnold Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark
Though he suffers from poor eyesight and has a deformed hand, Major Arnold Toht (Ronald Lacey) is a highly effective and grimly sadistic henchman. In the classic Steven Spielberg movie, he has no qualms whatsoever about trying to torture Karen Allen‘s Marion Ravenwood so he can acquire a priceless Egyptian artifact on behalf of the Gestapo. Then again, would you expect anything less from a lackey who takes his orders from Adolf Hitler?
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