When I was younger I would say and hear a lot that people really like the villains more in books and films. The villain is much more complex than the heroic characters. What I’ve realised as I got older is that most of the villains we liked then and now are really not that complex. Their motivations are usually quite simple; money, power, revenge, good old fashioned sadism and whatnot. But unlike the hero who has to wrestle with their conscience, the villain is uninhibited – they can say and do whatever they want and for the most part they get away with it. Of course if you knew a person like that in reality you would despise them because chances are they would be making your life miserable at every opportunity, but confined to the page or screen where they can’t really hurt anyone you find them fascinating.
I’m talking mainly about Alan Rickman-type of villains really. But another thing I find a good love-to-hate them kind of character is if they actually have a point. As in there seems to be truth enough in what they say that it actually gets under your skin.