Majority of Hollywood villains have skin problems, researchers reveal, as they warn it fuels a rise in prejudice

Nicola Harley
Darth Vader in the Empire strikes Back. - Film Stills

The majority of Hollywood villains have skin problems, researchers reveal, as they warn it fuels a rise in prejudice.

From Darth Vader to Hannibal Lector, a study of Hollywood's top villains has revealed many have dermatological problems in real life.

Film makers are being accused of fuelling prejudice by "unfairly" targeting people who suffer from certain conditions.

Researchers, led by Julia Croley of the University of Texas and published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, studied the 10 film heroes and villains from the American Film Institute (AFI) 100 Greatest Heroes and Villains List to assess whether the actors suffered from any skin issues.

Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal. Credit: PA

Using colour and black and white films, the researchers identified and compared dermatological findings for famous film heroes and villains, including Dr Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs, Darth Vader in the Empire Strikes Back, The Queen from the 1938 version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist and the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz.

It discovered alopecia causing 30 per cent hair loss was suffered by Dr Lecter and Darth Vader.

Darth Vader, Regan MacNeil and The Queen all suffered from dark circles under their eyes, with Darth Vader and Regan MacNeil all having multiple facial scars.

Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch of the West and Judy Garland as Dorothy in the film The Wizard Of Oz. Credit: Film Stills

The Wicked Witch of the West and the Queen both suffered from warts.

While it found six film villains had dermatological findings on their face, only two film heroes did.

They were Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca who both has facial scars.

Indiana Jones in the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Credit: Rex Features

However, the authors note the facial scars of heroes are were usually more subtle and shorter than those of villains.

"The results of this study demonstrate Hollywood's tendency to depict skin disease in an evil context, the implications of which extend beyond the theater," it says.

"Specifically, unfairly targeting dermatologic minorities may contribute to a tendency toward prejudice in our culture and facilitate misunderstanding of particular disease entities among the general public. 

"In some cases, filmmakers are tasked with addressing biased portrayals of dermatologic disease, as evidenced by the goals of advocacy groups."

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