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Movie Villain Monday: John Doe - Seven (1995)

It’s Movie Villain Monday and this week’s villain was suggested by Clare on Facebook.

It’s John Doe from Seven (1995).

Who is John Doe?

We never get to find out his real name but John Doe is a serial killer and the main antagonist in David Fincher’s brilliant but disturbing crime thriller, Seven.

He was played (chillingly) by Kevin Spacey.


Little is known about John Doe which makes the character and his actions that much more unnerving.

He uses the seven deadly sins as a motive for his murders, killing each victim in a way that represents the sin he believes them to be guilty of.

He’s hunted by two detectives throughout the movie (played by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt).


Although the seven deadly sins originate from Christian teachings, religion doesn’t seem to be John Doe’s true motivation. He does say he was chosen by God to punish people, but he seems to enjoy what he does too much to be doing it for any other reason than simply because he’s a sick maniac. He’s driven more by his disgust at how immoral and evil people have become.

His murders are part of a bigger plan to make a statement about how society tolerates sin.


John Doe is unemotional and very calm, showing little tone in his voice except for when he gets angry.

He’s cunning, cold, calculating, meticulous in his plan and extremely patient and methodical.

He shows no remorse and no compassion, believing his victims deserve their fate.


Before Kevin Spacey was cast, the role was offered to Val Kilmer who turned it down.

The legendary R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket) auditioned for the part but was instead cast as the Police Captain.

Michael Stipe, the lead singer of R.E.M was also considered as was Ned Beatty (Deliverance) who, after reading the script said, “I cant do this. This is the most evil thing I’ve ever read”.

Funnily enough when the script was sent to screen writer David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Panic Room) he agreed to send it to an agent but advised the writer Andrew Kevin Walker that he needed “professional help”.

One of the things that makes Seven such a great movie is the ending. Say “What’s in the box” to any fan of the film and they’ll get the reference straight away.

It almost didn’t happen though!

The studio thought the ending was a bit too bleak and threw a few other ideas around, like having a dog’s head in the box instead of Agent Mills’ wife’s head.

The ending that the producers decided on had John Doe killing Detective Mills (Pitt) then as a result, Detective Somerset (Freeman) killing him. This was the script that the studio decided to go with.

As it happens though, the wrong script got sent to the director (with the original ending) and he loved it! Obviously the producers had to admit they’d messed up and said they wanted a different ending, but when Brad Pitt was cast he said he’d only do the movie if the head in the box ending was kept.

What a hero!

“Become vengeance David. Become wrath”.

Another great movie villain suggestion!

Who should I feature next week..?


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