Photo credit: Bradley Cooper in Limitless courtesy of Relativity Media/©Dark Fields Production
There is some good and bad news concerning the latest update on the 2012 film adaptation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, the 1667 epic poem about the fall of man. The bad news is that director Alex Proyas intends for Paradise Lost to be a 3-D experience, which makes it the second classic (the first being Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby“) to fall victim to the over-hyped Hollywood trend come 2012. The good news is that the rumors are true — Bradley Cooper has signed on to play Satan, the most notorious fallen angel of all time. Most of the characters Cooper has played so far in his career have been subtle variations of the same arrogant, smooth-talking charmer. (See “The Hangover,” “Limitless,” and “Alias” for further validation.) We will make the case that Bradley Cooper’s résumé has adequately prepared him to embody the master of manipulation known as Lucifer, Satan, The Devil, The Antichrist, and El Diablo, among others.
As Bradley Cooper prepares to channel Satan in Paradise Lost, we would urge him to study up on the following six depictions of The Devil on film.
The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
Al Pacino reaches his evil pinnacle playing soulless lawyer John Milton in “The Devil’s Advocate,” adapted from Andrew Neiderman’s 1990 novel. Pacino’s final, spine-chilling rant against God borrows some famous Paradise Lost-isms, including the classic line “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”
Best Line: “Vanity, definitely my favorite sin.”
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
John Updike’s novel The Witches of Eastwick laid the ground for George Miller’s devilishly entertaining 1987 film starring Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and Jack Nicholson. Nicholson assumes the role of “horny little devil” Daryl Van Horne, who despite being crude, vulgar, and unattractive, manages to seduces three of the town’s most sexually repressed women. Daryl Van Horne numbers among Nicholson’s most memorable crazy characters.
Best Line: “Of course, when WE make mistakes they call it evil. When GOD makes mistakes, they call it… nature.”
The long-running Hellblazer comic series spawned the 2005 film adaptation, “Constantine,” about the adventures of supernatural detective John Constantine as he battles angels and demons in heaven and hell. Keanu Reeves received mixed reviews for playing a mediocre Constantine, but thankfully audiences had Peter Stormare‘s eerie depiction of Satan to validate the viewing experience.
Best Line: “This world is mine — in time.”
The Exorcist (1973)
The film success of “The Exorcist” far overshadowed the book that inspired it by William Peter Blatty, which was based on the real-life exorcism in the 1940s of Roland Doe. Dominating countless lists of the scariest movies of all time for decades, the head-spinning terror of Linda Blair’s demonic possession in “The Exorcist” will continue to haunt the dreams of both novice and seasoned horror movie fans for years to come.
Best Line: “And I’m the Devil. Now kindly undo these straps.”
Angel Heart (1987)
William Hjortsberg’s novel Falling Angel became the fantastic 1987 film “Angel Heart,” directed by Alan Parker, starring Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke. “Angel Heart” opens in 1955 with the story of private eye Harry Angel (Rourke) being hired by the mysterious Louis Cypher (DeNiro) to track down Johnny Favourite, a popular singer missing since the beginning of World War II. Though DeNiro is only a minor character in “Angel Heart,” his scenes are more than chill-worthy.
Best Line: “I have old-fashioned ideas about honor. An eye for an eye… stuff like that.”
Though not based on a book, we would be remiss to not include “The Prophecy” in a list of our favorite flicks that feature a memorable appearance by the devil. Christopher Walken assumes the role of Archangel Gabriel, who is tasked with ending the war in heaven by recruiting the evilest soul on earth to join him in the fight. However good Walken is, Viggo Mortensen’s cold, calculating embodiment of Satan devouring a yellow rose is one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
Best Line: “For while heaven may be closed, I am always open…even on Christmas.”
What satanic performances number among your favorites that are not on our list?