Satan in Film: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino Among Notables Who've Played the Devil

1:00 PM 3/25/2016

by Natalie Stone and Meena Jang

From Elizabeth Hurley to Viggo Mortensen, THR rounds up the actors who have given memorable onscreen performances as Satan in horror, comedy and fantasy films such as 'Angel Heart' and 'The Passion of the Christ.'

Newmarket Films/PhotofestNinth Gate, The (1999)

Read more 'The Young Messiah': Film Review

  • The Devil and Daniel Webster

    1941

    RKO Radio Pictures Inc./Photofest

    In the fantasy film, an adaptation of Stephen Vincent Benét's short story of the same title, a poor farmer (played by James Craig) sells his soul to the devil in exchange for seven years of prosperity. The Devil, who goes by the name "Mr. Scratch," is portrayed by Walter Huston.

  • Angel on My Shoulder

    1946

    UA/PhotofestAngel Heart (1987)

    Gangster Eddie Kagle (Paul Muni) meets the devil, Nick (Claude Rains), in hell after he's shot to death by his former partner. Nick devises a way for both of them to get revenge and gives Eddie a chance to return to Earth to avenge his death by occupying the body of a man causing the devil distress.

  • The Story of Mankind

    1957

    Warner Bros./Photofest

    After scientists develop a weapon called the "Super H-Bomb" with the potential to wipe out the human race, the devil (Vincent Price), referred to as Mr. Scratch, and The Spirit of Man (Ronald Colman) are tasked with persuading the High Judge to either save or destroy mankind.

  • Damn Yankees

    1958

    Warner Bros./Photofest

    The musical film follows an avid baseball fan who agrees to sell his soul to the devil for the chance to bring his team, the Washington Senators, to victory against the Yankees. Ral Walston plays the devil, referred to in the film as Applegate.

  • Rosemary's Baby

    1968

    Paramount Pictures/Photofest

    In the Roman Polanski-directed horror film, Mia Farrow plays a housewife who gives birth to the spawn of Satan after becoming entangled in a series of ominous events.

  • The Omen

    1976

    Twentieth Century Fox/Photofest

    The Omen, the first of a horror film series extending from 1976 to 2006, stars Gregory Peck as a successful U.S. Ambassador who makes the mistake of adopting a young orphaned child without his wife's knowledge. After the family is plagued by several mysterious occurrences, the child (played by Harvey Spencer Stephen) is discovered to be the antichrist. 

  • Legend

    1985

    Universal/Photofest

    The fantasy film, directed by Ridley Scott, tells the story of a young boy (Tom Cruise) on a quest to stop the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) from destroying daylight and saving his love, Princess Lily (Mia Sara), from the devil's temptation.

  • Angel Heart

    1987

    TriStar Pictures/Photofest

    Private investigator Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is asked to track down famous jazz musician "Johnny Favorite" by a man named Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro). But his search takes a turn for the worst when he discovers that Johnny Favorite was a famed magician who sold his soul to Satan for fame, and Louis Cyphre (a homophone for Lucifer) is Satan himself.

  • The Witches of Eastwick

    1987

    Warner Brothers/Photofest

    In George Miller's comedy-fantasy film, Jack Nicholson stars as the cunning and mysterious Daryl Van Horne (Satan in disguise), who seduces and manipulates three women (played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon) living in the small town of Eastwick. When the women realize they are witches with supernatural abilities, they make a pact to exact revenge on him using witchcraft.

  • Needful Things

    1993

    Columbia Pictures/Photofest

    Based on Stephen King's 1991 novel of the same title, the horror film follows a shopowner named Leland Gaunt (Max von Sydow) who opens a store called Needful Things in Castle Rock. Leland, who is later revealed to be the devil, houses all of Castle Rock's residents' deepest desires in his shop and uses it to spread greed, fear and violence to the town's population.

  • The Prophecy

    1995

    Miramax Films/Photofest

    Viggo Mortensen plays Lucifer in the fantasy horror flick The Prophecy. The film focuses on a young girl, Mary, who is visited by Lucifer and is told a secret. Angel Gabriel (Christopher Walken) descends to earth to take a soul that will end the war in Heaven, but his mission can only be stopped by a specific priest and Mary.

  • The Devil's Advocate

    1997

    Warner Bros./Photofest

    Kevin Lomax's (Keanu Reeves) career is on the rise when he is offered a position at a top law firm in New York City by the head of the firm, John Milton (Al Pacino). After relocating from Florida to New York with his wife (Charlize Theron), Lomax begins spending all his time at work, leaving his wife isolated and alone at home, who begins seeing demonic visions. Later in the film, it is revealed that Milton is Satan and Lomax is his son.

  • End of Days

    1999

    MCA/Universal Pictures/Photofest

    Atheist ex-cop Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger) no longer believes in God after the murder of his wife and daughter. But when Satan (Gabriel Byrne) inhabits the body of a man a day before the turn of the millennium in search of his chosen bride, the only hope for the world not ending lies in Cane, who must prevent the devil from bearing her child between 11 p.m. and midnight on New Year's Eve.

  • Little Nicky

    2000

    New Line Cinema/Photofest

    In the comedic fantasy Little Nicky, Adam Sandler plays Nicky, Satan's (Harvey Keitel) mellow third son, who is sent to earth to bring back his two older brothers who escaped hell in an effort to wreak havoc.

  • Bedazzled

    2000

    Twentieth Century Fox/Photofest

    Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser) is approached by the scantily clad devil (Elizabeth Hurley) who approaches his hopeless self and offers him seven wishes in exchange for his soul. Though he takes the deal, his wishes may not be as wonderful as they appear.

  • The Passion of the Christ

    2004

    Newmarket Films/PhotofestNinth Gate, The (1999)

    In Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Rosalinda Celentano plays Satan in the film that recounts Jesus' (Jim Caviezel) last 12 hours on earth, including his gruesome crucifixion.

  • Constantine

    2005

    Photofest

    Peter Stormare (not pictured) plays Satan in the 2005 fantasy horror film Constantine. John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), a demon hunter whose purpose on Earth is to send demons back to the underworld, helps Det. Angela Dodson discover the truth about her sister's — a former devout Catholic – alleged suicide. In his attempt to discover the truth of her death, Constantine encounters Satan head on.

  • Ghost Rider

    2007

    Columbia Pictures/Photofest

    Nicolas Cage plays Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider in the 2007 action fantasy thriller Ghost Rider. The film tells the story of Blaze who gives up his soul to the devil, Mephistopheles, in exchange for the health of his father. The devil tricks him and Blaze runs away and becomes a famous motorcyclist. Later on, Mephistopheles proposes Blaze become "Ghost Rider" in an effort to defeat his evil son, Blackheart.

  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

    2009

    Sony Pictures Classics/Photofest

    Tom Waits plays devilish character Mr. Nick in the 2009 fantasy adventure The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. When Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) fell in love with a mortal woman, he made a deal with the devil (Waits) by trading his immortality for youth and promised one of his children to the devil on their sixteenth birthday. As his daughter's birthday looms, he makes a new bet with Mr. Nick in an attempt to take back his daughter.

  • The Young Messiah

    2016

    Courtesy of Young Messiah Resources

    In the March 2016 release of The Young Messiah, which tells the story of Jesus' formative years, Rory Keenan plays the Demon/Satan character. As described in The Hollywood Reporter's review, Satan "is the very epitome of metrosexual lechery: He constantly appears to the Messiah-in-training to show him terrifying visions (like the holy city Jerusalem engulfed in flames), and otherwise seductively saps the young boy's spiritual certainty — all while looking fabulous, of course. (Gehenna certainly has a hell of a goatee barber.)."

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