You probably remember Jeremy Irons as Simon Gruber, the villain of 1995’s Die Hard With a Vengeance. As the vengeful brother of the series’ first villain, Irons is as intelligent as he is charming, mocking Bruce Willis’ John McClane every step of the way. There’s plenty about that role that would translate well to Tarkin, from his seething rage at the killer of his brother to his calm, unnerving voice.
In fact, that’s probably Irons’ best qualification: his patterns of speech. His voice seems to drip out of his mouth, as if he’s criticizing your intelligence by purposely trying to talk slow enough for you to understand. That’s what made his other performance as a furious brother so memorable, when Irons voiced Scar for Disney’s The Lion King.
Of course, the animators turned Scar into a Shakespearean villain with his piercing eyes and devilish smile, but it was Irons’ speeches and singing that tied the whole package together and made him a classic member of Disney’s rogues gallery. Although I’m not sure if Irons could nail the rigid body and posture of the disciplined military general as Tarkin, if the role was only for a voice actor, he’d be my pick.
Next: The Dark Horse Candidate