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This past weekend’s San Andreas added yet another classic movie d-bag to the roster in the form of Ioan Gruffud’s Daniel. He’s everything your average moviegoer loves to hate: he’s uber-rich, he’s building San Francisco’s tallest skyscraper (which, in an earthquake movie, automatically makes him an oblivious dummy) and he flaunts his extravagance, like with his private jet. But it all works out in the public’s favor, as he gets what he deserves in the end.
That’s the part that makes him a character you love to see either humiliated or offed -- tragically and karmically. And there are plenty more where he came from. Let’s hear it for all those actors and actresses who played totally jerks/assholes/jackasses/blemishes on society — we can go on — to make the good guys be even more likable, and to bring us all together to hate on them.
Dennis Nedry, Jurassic ParkMoney corrupts and breeds total douchebags. When Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) falls victim to some financial problems, he agrees to use his position at the park to steal dinosaur DNA and smuggle it off the island. He plants a virus in the computer system to cause a diversion, but that leads to the dinos getting loose from their cages and wreaking havoc. When Nedry’s car breaks down in a torrential storm and he comes face to face with shrieking death, it’s an appropriate outcome for an aggravating character.
2. Harry Ellis, Die HardHarry Ellis (Hart Bochner) watches 60 Minutes. That makes him an expert in terrorists. According to him, he also has a lot in common with them — terrorists use guns for their business, while Ellis uses a pen. "What’s the difference?" As we know, he’s Hans’ white knight. If only he knew the difference, then maybe he wouldn’t have landed a bullet in his head. Actually, it was his intense narcissism that did that.
3. Dr. Jonas Miller, TwisterYou never root for the corporate-funded, privileged meteorologist over the underdog. It just doesn’t happen, especially when the former is trying to claim credit for something he didn’t fully invent. So when Jo Thornton races against Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes) to launch their technology into the eye of a vicious tornado, we don’t shed a tear for the latter storm chaser when his vehicle is sucked into a vortex and never seen from again.
4. Walter Peck, GhostbustersWe all know a Walter Peck (William Atherton) type -- someone who thinks he or she knows everything and isn’t willing to admit fault. That’s what happens when Peck, the city’s health inspector, tries to shut down the Ghostbusters’ ghostly containment field. He’s convinced they are secretly hiding some harmful substances and, in his ignorance, unleashes all the poltergeists the Ghostbusters have busted. When faced with his poor decisions in front of the governor, he’s made a fool and, later on, he’s coated in melted marshmallow upon the Stay Puft Man’s demise.
5. Caledon Hockley, TitanicCaledon (Billy Zane) possesses all the worst qualities of mankind: he’s short-tempered, jealous, elitist, smarmy and a wife beater. It’s no wonder Rose (Kate Winslet) almost instantly falls for another man. Literally, anyone else on the Titanic would be a better match for her than Cal. After smacking Rose across the face, mouthing off about the poor, and going after her and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) with a gun out of jealously, we learn that Cal eventually ends up committing suicide. It’s a long wait for a jerk’s payoff, but it’s good enough for this list.
6. Veruca Salt, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"But I want an Oompa Loompa now!" These words are like dry, brittle nails sliding down an untouched chalkboard. In other words, unbearable. Veruca Salt is still the most spoiled little brat to appear on the big screen. But after whining to her father about how she wants a golden egg-laying goose of her very own, she takes one step too far down the shoot where other rotten eggs go. Bye, Felicia!
7. Hannibal Chau, Pacific RimWhen the apocalypse by kaiju invasion hits, there’s always one guy profiting off of the mess, and in Pacific Rim that’s Hannibal Chau. The character is portrayed brilliantly by Guillermo del Toro’s longtime buddy Ron Perlman, but perhaps too brilliantly. All we want to see happen to him is for one of those gargantuan beasties to swoop in and swallow him whole. And that’s what happens…minus the swooping. (Stay through the end credits, however, to learn Chau’s ultimate fate!)
8. Percy Whetmore, The Green MileThere’s a special place in hell for Percy Whetmore (Doug Hutchison). The man who came to guard the Death Row inmates through nepotism takes a sadistic pleasure in torturing his charges. He even killed Mr. Jingles! But more devastating than that, he purposefully left Del’s sponge dry for his electric chair execution, leading to a hard-to-watch death sequence. In a satisfying turn of events, though, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) infects Percy with the poison, causing him to kill a truly evil prisoner and getting himself locked away in an insane asylum. Vindication!
9. Chet Donnelly, Weird ScienceChet is the big brother no one ever asked for. It’s almost like he gets off on pulling his rifle on his lil’ geeky bro, Wyatt, extorting money out of him and depleting his overall standard of living. If it weren’t for the magically-created Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), he’d only be a giant talking pile of crap on the inside. Now, go get me a greasy pork sandwich, served in a dirty ashtray.
10. Margo Chester, Christmas VacationYou gotta hand it to this early Julia Louise Dreyfus character — she knows how to bring the passive-aggressive sass. Along with her husband, she’s constantly giving the Griswold’s grief about their light display, how big their Christmas tree is and their family in general. But Clark is quick to serve it right back. More often than not, he ends up inadvertently making their day-to-day routines much more difficult, as we see when their Christmas lights interrupt their alone time.