Stephen Lang, back on ter­ri­fy­ing form in Don’t Breathe, re­flects on his great­est vil­lains


The Party Crasher (The Hard Way, 1991)

“I was com­ing off a big hit on Broad­way, as the orig­i­nal Colonel Jes­sup in A Few Good Men. Com­ing off a Marine hair­cut, the idea of do­ing some­thing funky and fun was ap­peal­ing. We built up the look — Chuck Tay­lor sneak­ers, per­ox­ide hair, this won­der­ful silky shirt — and turned him into some­thing akin to a car­toon char­ac­ter. I re­mem­ber bits of my hair would break off from time to time. And I re­mem­ber Michael J. Fox knock­ing me out cold with a frig­ging two by four. He was meant to bring it across my shoul­ders and brought it across my head. I was gone for 30 sec­onds.”

Colonel Miles Quar­itch (Avatar, 2009)

“I ran into Steve Gut­ten­berg the other night and he had just watched Avatar. He started kvel­ling about the scene where I jump out of the burn­ing Dragon Ship in my AMP suit. He said, ‘That’s about as clas­sic a movie-vil­lain mo­ment as you’re ever gonna get.’ An­other mo­ment peo­ple tend to men­tion is the cup of cof­fee he drinks in the big bat­tle. I said to the props guys, ‘Get me a black cof­fee, scald­ingly hot, in a metal cup.’ They brought me this plas­tic cup and I said, ‘Is this all you got? This is a big movie, fel­las.’ And for some rea­son they never got the steam go­ing on the thing. Quar­itch will go on his own jour­ney in the se­quels. The story is mag­nif­i­cent, but the sched­ule is a Mon­go­lian clus­ter­fuck, you might say.”

The Blind Man (Don’t Breathe, 2016)

“There’s a Job-like qual­ity to this guy. He’s a tragic fig­ure, but has moved past self-pity and cre­ated a king­dom where he can ex­ist. De­spite the dark things you learn about him, hope­fully you feel a cer­tain amount of em­pa­thy. That to me is the real strength of the film: it’s why it tran­scends the hor­ror genre. To pre­pare I tried to go about my usual rou­tine as if I was blind. It’s hard to do the balanc­ing se­ries in yoga with your eyes closed. But I did get pretty good at mak­ing health shakes with a blender. Some av­o­cado skin snuck in at one point, but I’ve still got my fingers.”

The vil­lain­ous Stephen Lang, seen here in Don’t Breathe, and be­low in Avatar and The Hard Way.

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