5 of Dan Stevens’s Strangest and Scariest Roles

Written By Rachael Conrad

Rachael Conrad is an award-winning indie bookseller with over a decade of experience in the industry. When she's not reading or writing Rachael can often be found exploring the woods and tide pools of Maine and discussing who the best Chris is (it's Pine, obviously). Her writing can be found in Tor/Reactor, Polygon, and Kirkus Reviews."

If there’s anything that we’ve learned from the internet’s reaction to Dan Stevens’s turn in the recent vampire ballerina movie, Abigail, it’s that people love to watch him be weird. He is, quite frankly, extremely good at it, and it’s clear—at least based on the projects that he continues to appear in—that he enjoys being cast as these types of characters just as much as we all enjoy watching him. Long gone are the days of Edwardian country houses and lavish, upstairs/downstairs historical drama, replaced instead by horror movies and hidden superpowers. 

In Abigail, Stevens plays the head of a group of misfit criminals who find themselves fighting for their lives against a young vampire, but this is far from the strangest or scariest role he has taken on. Below you’ll find a mix of movies and TV shows that showcase Stevens’s talent. 

The Guest (2014)

Not sure where to start when it comes to Dan Stevens’s stranger body of work? Adam Wingard’s explosive, blood soaked thriller, The Guest, is an excellent movie to kick things off with. 

After departing from Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens returned to the big screen in 2014 looking and acting nothing like his beloved character, Matthew Crawley. The Guest tells the story of a soldier named David (Stevenson), who pays a visit to the Peterson family after the tragic death of their oldest son, Caleb, during the war in Afghanistan. David claims that he and Caleb were friends, and that he wanted to check in on their family after their son’s death. Polite and charming, David is invited to stay and quickly inserts himself into their day-to-day lives. When a series of increasingly violent deaths occurs in town, the Peterson’s eldest daughter begins to suspect that David might be responsible for them. 

Apostle (2018)

Set on a beautiful, remote Welsh island in 1905, Apostle (written and directed by Gareth Evans) is a gothic folk horror movie that tells the story of a deeply troubled man by the name of Thomas Richardson (Stevens) and the cult that he is sent to infiltrate in order to save his sister. It’s a deeply creepy and extremely gory Wickerman-esque tale, and Stevens shines as a formerly religious man haunted by his past who is forced to go toe-to-toe with human—and inhuman—enemies. 

Legion (2017-2019)

Probably best known now for his work on the stellar TV show, Fargo, Noah Hawley is the mastermind behind the short lived—it sadly only aired for three seasons—mind blowing, and incredibly unsettling show, Legion, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. 

A veritable feast for the eyes and the mind, Legion tells the story of a troubled young man by the name of David Haller, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. But that’s not the whole story. What David doesn’t know, and viewers eventually come to find out, is that he is the mutant son of the one-and-only Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men. The show proceeds to follow David as he learns how to control his powers and evades a sinister force trying to track him down. 

Cuckoo (2024)

Slated to come out this August, Cuckoo is a psychological horror movie written and directed by Tilman Singer and stars a truly incredible cast including the likes of Hunter Schafer as the movie’s final girl, John Malkovich, Jessica Henwick, and Dan Stevens. 

Cuckoo begins when Gretchen (Schafer) is sent to live at a remote, mid-century alpine resort in Germany with her estranged father, his new wife, and their daughter, all three of whom she doesn’t seem to feel any emotional connection to. It quickly becomes clear that not everything or everyone is as they seem, including Herr König (Stevens), the resort’s skeevy, bespectacled owner. 

The Ritual (???)

While not much is known about The Ritual, which is currently in post production, there are a few details about the plot that have been shared. We know that it stars Dan Stevens and Al Pacino (which is exciting in and of itself) and that they’ll star as two priests—one who has a mysterious, troubled past, the other who is questioning his faith—who have been called upon to perform an exorcism on a young woman possessed by a demon (or so they think). Needless to say, The Ritual sounds like it will be a nail biter and terrifying to boot, and we cannot wait to see who Stevens will be playing and how he’ll tackle the role. 

[Image: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock]