On March 3, Deadline reported that Clancy Brown has been cast as Salvatore Maroni in the upcoming HBO Max series and Batman spinoff “The Penguin.” Maroni was previously portrayed by Eric Roberts in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” as a pretty standard mob boss, but having Brown in the role could mix it up, seeing how he’s not only played villains in the past, but has also shown his versatility in how he approaches his role as the antagonist.
Brown is known best for his role as Mr. Krabs in Nickelodeon’s longest-running hit cartoon, “Spongebob Squarepants.” However, anyone familiar with Brown’s filmography knows that he’s usually cast in villain-type roles in the TV shows and movies he’s in. So it makes sense that Brown has been cast in what is yet another villainous role in the upcoming DC Extended Universe show, “The Penguin.”
With that said, here are the five most villainous roles Brown has played, in no particular order.
Captain Byron Hadley, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’
While Brown has played villains in his live-action roles, his most well-known antagonist in that medium was playing the sadistic correctional officer Byron Hadley in 1994’s “The Shawshank Redemption.” Not only did Hadley have a short temper, but once he lost it, he never pulled any of his punches. When the prisoners did something he deemed out of line, he let them know in the worst way possible.
Brown’s portrayal of Hadley showed how callous he could be when playing a clear-cut antagonist. He was not necessarily someone who audiences wanted to see get his comeuppance, but someone whose wrath the audience hoped the main characters would never incur.
Lex Luthor, ‘Superman: The Animated Series’
While Lex Luthor could be as ruthless as Hadley, the difference between the two is that Brown managed to capture the calculated, charismatic and sophisticated Luthor in the 1990s animated “Superman” series. His goal was never to hurt anyone directly, but if that’s what it took for him to spread his influence in taking over Metropolis, then he’d do it in a heartbeat, which is why destroying Superman by any means necessary was at the top of the list.
Brown’s voice acting managed to capture Luthor’s suave persona on top of establishing the lengths he’d go to accomplish his goals, all while maintaining his squeaky clean public image. He pulled off a memorable iteration of what is perhaps the most iconic villain in all of comic books. Audiences didn’t want to see Brown’s version of Luthor dead, but rather bested once and for all.
Dr. Neo Cortex, ‘Crash Bandicoot’
Dr. Neo Cortex, in the “Crash Bandicoot” video games, wasn’t nearly as nuanced as Luthor. He was another prototypical mad scientist with every intention of taking over the world with his brainwashed minions. Of course, he showed that he wasn’t particularly good at executing his plans, since his greatest failure, Crash Bandicoot, kept thwarting them. Brown pulled off the menacing Cortex, but also added a little bit of comedy to the role.
Brown knew how to make Cortex a dire threat that needed to be stopped. At the same time, his hubris getting the better of him made the villain pretty funny too. Even though Brown hasn’t voiced Cortex in two decades, there’s a reason why Cortex’s current voice actor, Lex Lang, more or less mimics Brown’s original portrayal.
Long Feng, ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’
Despite the fact that Brown only appeared in five episodes of the Nickelodeon fantasy adventure series, Brown’s portrayal as the cunning and corrupt city official Long Feng demonstrated that not all evil in the “Avatar” world resonated exclusively in the Fire Nation. Brown used his menacing voice for Long Feng not to intimidate, but more to manipulate everyone around him.
While the rationale for his actions was keeping the peace in the Earth Kingdom, Long Feng’s motive was to maintain control. Brown’s collected yet conniving voice acting demonstrated just how many stops Long Feng would pull to get what he wanted, which included successfully killing off one of the show’s characters, something neither Firelord Ozai nor Azula did.
Mr. Krabs, ‘Spongebob Squarepants’
This could be considered cheating because Mr. Krabs’ role varies between good and bad in the episodes he appears in throughout the “Spongebob Squarepants” series. However, when he’s the antagonist of the episode, the various deeds he commits are reprehensible enough that even the previous four characters mentioned earlier would shudder.
Primarily, Brown’s job as Mr. Krabs is to satirize the greed of a restaurant owner. Even if the character is much more lighthearted compared to Brown’s other roles, make no mistake, when he’s up to no good, Mr. Krabs could be pretty heartless. What makes it all tolerable is how hilarious Brown makes him when Krabs’ greed gets the better of him.
What to expect from ‘The Penguin’
Getting back to “The Penguin,” Brown joins a cast that has Colin Farrell, Cristin Miliot, Rhenzy Feliz, Michael Kelly, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Deirdre O’Connell. There’s even been rumors that Robert Pattinson will make an appearance, as reported by Jeff Snider on Hot Mic. If the creators’ intention was to bring in an actor who not only knows how to play a villain, but knows every angle in which to play a villain, they got their man with Clancy Brown.