The Devil, commonly known as Satan and Lucifer, has been scaring the crap out of mankind for centuries thanks to various world religions. While the same can’t be said about the Devil in movies, he is well represented on the big screen. This article will be taking a look at his many appearances and representations, from the comedic to the downright sinister.
Please note that this list is dedicated to only physical manifestations of Satan, so instances of helpless people being possessed will be left for a future list. The same goes for movies that feature the Devil’s voice and not his body.
Just in case you’re wondering, here are some of the various titles for the Devil that have been used around the globe:
- The Morning Star
- Old Scratch
- Prince of Darkness
- The Adversary
- Old Hob
- The Serpent
- Der Leibhaftige
- Old Nick
- The Lord of the Underworld
- The Stranger
Now for a closer look at the Devil in movies…
- Harvey Keitel as Satan in Little Nicky (2000) – Harvey Keitel lends his New York accent to the role of Satan, a not-so-bad ruler of the underworld. After all, he has a soft spot for his simple-minded son, Nicky (Adam Sandler), as well as a fondness for sticking pineapples up Hitler’s ass on a daily basis. And in case you get to Hell and don’t know who he is, that monogrammed “D” on his shirt should provide a clue.
- Jack Nicholson as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick (1987) – Nicholson leers and mugs for the camera as a horny version of the Prince of Darkness. His targets: three New England housewives (Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon) who’ve been abandoned by their husbands.
- Peter Cook as George Spiggott in Bedazzled (1967) – When he’s not twisting the seven wishes of lowly Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore) to his amusement, this comical British version of the Devil engages in spite and mischief-making with the assistance of such cohorts as Envy and Lust (Raquel Welch). If he can collect 100 billion souls before God, he’ll be let back into Heaven.
- Clarence Williams III as Mr. Simms in Tales from the Hood (1995) – He’s creepy enough when posing as a simple funeral home director, but Clarence Williams III lets it all hang out during the film’s closing moments.
- Elizabeth Hurley as Satan in Bedazzled (2000) – In this retelling of the 1967 comedy, Peter Cook is replaced with a much sexier version of Satan. Elizabeth Hurley wears an endless succession of fashionable-yet-slutty outfits as she torments a geek (Brendan Fraser) looking for love. Later in the film, a pissed-off Satan changes into both a giant and an abomination with black horns.
- Robert De Niro as Louis Cyphre in Angel Heart (1987) – With long hair and fingernails, De Niro exudes menace as a mysterious figure who hires a down-on-his-luck gumshoe (Mickey Rourke) for a missing persons case.
- George Burns as Harry O. Tophet in Oh, God! You Devil (1984) – Stogie-smoking comic George Burns pulls double duty as both God and the Devil. Their rivalry eventually climaxes in a game of poker for the soul of a struggling musician.
- Dave Grohl as Satan in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006) – The drummer for The Foo Fighters dons giant horns and cloven hooves for a rock battle against Jack Black and Kyle Gass. Fans of metal will be delighted, as Grohl shows off his abilities as a drummer, singer, and guitarist, while talking about making “KG” squeal like the Scarlet Pimpernel.
- Ray Walston as Applegate in Damn Yankees (1958) – Joe Boyd (Robert Shafer), an obsessed baseball fan, gets an offer from the Devil in the form of a conman named Applegate: Not only will he improve the chances of the Washington Senators, but he’ll restore Joe’s youth so he can lead them to victory. In return, all he wants is his immortal soul.
- Peter Stormare as Lucifer in Constantine (2005) – The veteran character actor gives a memorable performance as a barefoot Lucifer in a white suit. Suitably creepy, he travels up from Hell to personally collect the soul of the demon-slaying John Constantine (Keanu Reeves).
- Al Pacino as John Milton in The Devil’s Advocate (1997) – As a walking, talking example of unchecked ego, John Milton engages in threesomes with mothers and daughters, as well as getting blowjobs in public. The ultimate tempter, he sets his sights on a southern lawyer played by Keanu Reeves.
- Robert Judd as Scratch in Crossroads (1986) – This personification of the Devil takes the form of a polite black man in a suit. When one of his old clients, a bluesman named Willie Brown (Joe Seneca), wants to get his soul back, Scratch offers Willie’s protégé, Eugene “Lightning“ Martone (Ralph Macchio), a chance to do so. All he has to do is defeat a “big ‘ol white boy named Jack Butler” (Steve Vai) in a guitar duel. But if he loses, Scratch gets both their souls.
- Rosalinda Celentano as Satan in The Passion of the Christ (2004) – As Mel Gibson’s Christ (Jim Caviezel) prepares to die for the sins of mankind, he’s tempted by Satan in the form of a woman. When Christ triumphantly passes away, Satan is none too pleased.
- Claude Rains as Nick in Angel on My Shoulder (1946) – When a gangster (Paul Muni) dies and winds up in hell, Nick is there to offer him a chance for revenge. But, of course, he wants a little favor in return. If you’ve even wanted to see the Devil get blackmailed, here’s your chance.
- Walter Huston as Mr. Scratch in The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) – Lawyer Daniel Webster (Edward Arnold) takes on the case of Jabez Stone (James Craig), an aging farmer who’ s coming to the end of his life. At stake is his soul, but the Devil won’t play ball unless Webster also wagers his own. Is it just me, or does Huston look like a leprechaun?
- G. Tito Shaw as Lou Cipher in Petey Wheatstraw (1977) – When nightclub performer Petey Wheatstraw and his friends are gunned down by rival comics Leroy and Skillet, the Devil offers him a chance to return everyone to the land of the living. All Petey has to do is marry the Devil’s butt-ugly daughter. When Petey gets back, he plots his revenge on those responsible for his death and tries to figure a way to weasel out of the deal. Luckily, he’s got the Devil’s magical pimp cane to assist him.
- Tim Curry as Lord of Darkness in Legend (1985) – Wanting to snuff out sunshine forever, this fantasy-dwelling ultimate evildoer sets in motion a plot to kill a pair of unicorns. Luckily, the fairies and other woodland creatures can rely on the youthful heroism of Jack o’ the Green (Tom Cruise). With his red skin and massive set of horns, the Lord of Darkness is undoubtedly one of the coolest-looking cinematic representations of the Devil.
- Benjamin Christensen as Satan in Haxan (1922) – A silent film that discusses how many witch-hunts in centuries past were started by ignorance about mental illnesses and diseases. In the section detailing medieval superstitions, the Devil is shown terrorizing monks and tempting women.
- Vincent Price as Mr. Scratch in The Story of Mankind (1957) – With mankind on the verge of destroying themselves, a court in outer space convenes to discuss a possible intervention. The Spirit of Man represents the citizens of Earth, while Mr. Scratch argues against them. Dennis Hopper co-stars as Napoleon, while Harpo Marx plays Sir Isaac Newton.
- Jeff Goldblum as Mr. Frost in Mister Frost (1990) – Angry at a world that’s replaced him with science, the Devil (in the form of the quiet Mr. Frost) plots his return to power. Confined to a mental institution after being convicted of 24 murders, Frost plans to make his doctor (Kathy Baker) kill him, thus proving his superiority to modern customs and beliefs.
- Thomas J. Ryan as Satan in The Book of Life (1998) – When Jesus (Martin Donovan) returns to Earth to begin the apocalypse, he hesitates after taking a shine to humanity. This leads to Jesus, his assistant (PJ Harvey), and Satan sitting around and having a long talk about the state of the world.
- Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer in The Prophecy (1995) – With only a short time to prepare, Mortensen owned the role of Lucifer in this tale of warring angels. When the archangel Gabriel (Christopher Walken) comes to Earth to claim an evil soul, Lucifer turns out to be the ultimate weapon available to the good guys. He’s so creepy that characters gag and break into tears while he’s talking.
- Jules Berry as the Devil in The Devil’s Envoys (1942) – In this French romance, a pair of lovers in the 14th century defy the Devil. Needless to say, our pal with the horns isn’t pleased.
- Gabriel Byrne as Satan in End of Days (1999) – In this bleak Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Satan comes to Earth and inhabits the body of a banker in order to consummate with a mortal woman and bring about the birth of his son. This version of Satan isn’t fooling around, as he pretty much kills anyone who looks at him funny.
- Sting as Martin in Brimstone and Treacle (1982) – In the guise of a handsome young man named Martin, the Devil proves about the worst houseguest possible when he volunteers to care for a young woman in a coma.
- Tom Waits as Mr. Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) – The legendary singer takes on the role of Mr. Nick, a crafty fellow who’s owed the soul of Valentina (Lily Cole) when she turns 16. Her father, a traveling theatrical troupe owner named Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), struggles to renege on the deal.
- ??? as the Devil in Devil (2010) – Five strangers enter an elevator and promptly get stuck between floors. As creepy events begin to play out, they come to realize that the Devil is in their midst. I intentionally left the name of the performer blank, as I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
- Adam Sandler as Satan in Dirty Work (1998) – Little Nicky (aka Adam Sandler) makes an uncredited cameo appearance as the Devil in this film about two men (Norm MacDonald and Artie Lange) who go into the revenge business. Howard Stern was originally offered the part, but he turned it down.
- Peter Fonda as Mephistopheles in Ghost Rider (2007) – This devil loves motorcycles, but what else would you expect from the star of Easy Rider?
- Trey Parker as the voice of Satan in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) – An animated Satan who belts out tunes (“Up There”), seems timid, and is lovers with Saddam Hussein? That’s what South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone give us in this big-screen version of their long-running series on Comedy Central.
- Jose Luis Aguirre as Lucifer in Santa Claus (1959) – In this bizarre Mexican film, Lucifer has a major problem with Santa Claus (who‘s based in outer space, by the way), even sending a henchman named Pitch to Earth to turn children against the jolly fat man. If Pitch fails, Lucifer threatens to make him eat chocolate ice cream. Luckily, Saint Nick gets some assistance from the legendary wizard, Merlin.
- Gary Oldman as the Devil in The Hire: Beat the Devil (2002) – Oldman delivers a memorably comedic portrayal of the Devil in this short film meant to promote BMW. Clive Owen is the mysterious driver who puts his soul on the line to help an aging singer (James Brown, with plenty of subtitles) renegotiate his eternal contract with ‘Ol Scratch. It all leads to a breakneck race down the Vegas Strip and out into the desert. In one car, our heroes Owen and Brown. In the other, Oldman and craggy-faced character actor Danny Trejo. Oddly enough, Oldman would also play the Devil in the Guns ‘N Roses video “Since I Don’t Have You.”
That concludes our look at the Devil in movies. As you can see, the red guy with the pitchfork and the sinister-looking businessman are only two of his many forms. Personally, I prefer to think of the Devil as Elizabeth Hurley in a really revealing outfit.