I find many of my villains are in very famous movies and everyone has seen them. Well today I will bring you a villain you might not have seen. This man makes you hate him and you wish for nothing more than the opportunity to punch him in the face. I know I did which made me admire the performance even more. It is a fun film and kind of silly but with a wonderful villain by the name of Count Adhemar played by the under rated Rufus Sewell in A Knight’s Tale (click for trailer).
Sewell can inspire so much emotion in the viewer. He knows how to play the consummate prick. This film is the story about a young boy who grew up poor, with nothing but has big hopes and dreams. To prove to the world he is more than what he seems and change his stars. His father sends him away when he is a boy with a man who is royalty, at least by title, like a Duke or something. Unfortunately this Duke dies in a joust before the competition is done. So our boy, William Thatcher played by Heath Ledger, puts on his deceased benefactor’s suit of armor and pretends to be him so they can get paid. This inspires William to create a whole persona of a Knight, Sir Ulrich Von Lichtenstein so he can continue to compete in these competitions since he is great with a sword and decent at the joust.
Enter our villain who is the greatest jouster in the land. He is also one of the most hated men in the land, and for good reason. All the glory lies in the Joust and Count Adhemar has all the glory. For some reason he develops a strong dislike for Sir Ulrich and has suspicions he is not who he claims to be to be. Due to war raging, Count Adhemar must take his leave of the tournaments and lead his men in battle. All the while Sir Ulrich continues to win tournaments and become even better in his absence.
Count Adhemar is of course rich. And this is a great evil rich guy. Of course William is poor but gets richer with every tournament win. Rich versus poor, good versus evil, what more can you ask for? Of course eventually the Count is responsible for revealing who Sir Ulrich really is and has him locked away. But thanks to the help of the Black Prince, we of course get the one final showdown.
Rufus Sewell makes us hate this character with such ease it is scary. I mean he honestly is not over the top or an obvious sociopath. He is just a count who when he speaks oozes and radiates cockiness and all the things we associate with rich people who treat the world as if they should bow to their every whim. The mastery of the character is in the subtleness of the performance. In my opinion, no one has ever inspired such negative emotion by doing so little.
Watch the film, give it a shot. “In what world could you possibly beat me?” God I want to punch him in the face.