Tonight at 10:15 p.m. ET, you can watch John Malkovich as a king. Granted his regal bearing and incredible on-camera poise makes him always seem regal, but tonight in “The Libertine” he plays Charles II, the King of England.
In the film, Malkovich’s Charles II calls his friend John Wilmot (Johnny Depp), the second Earl of Rochester, back to court from exile. He quickly realizes it was a terrible idea as Wilmot, a well-respected poet and author, has become notorious for his promiscuity and almost self-destructive pursuit of pleasure, and is more interested in making a name for himself and scoring with the ladies than being a good friend. Charles II has no choice but to exile Wilmot again after he produces a scathing stage satire of the King’s court. Wilmot’s escapades take a turn for the worse after he’s kicked out of court again – and his body and mind start succumbing to the ravages of syphilis, forcing him to take solace in drink, because penicillin didn’t exist yet.
Malkovich, who portrayed Wilmot on stage at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, also served as one of the film’s producers and personally brought the director Laurence Dunmore on board after working with him on a commercial. Malkovich takes his movies seriously and his dedication shows in his ability to elevate even the most humble roles to brilliant heights.
Here are five of our favorite John Malkovich roles:
5. Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom in “Con Air”
4. Vicomte Sébastien de Valmont in “Dangerous Liaisons”
3. Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau in “Shadow of the Vampire”
2. Osborne Cox in “Burn After Reading”
1. John Malkovich in “Being John Malkovich”
“The Libertine” airs tonight at 10:15 PM ET