A lot of actors think that the more words they have, the more attention they get. That's bullshit. I make people look at me. I don't have to say a lot of words."
One of the first faces that come to mind when you think of the phrase "western villain". He started out as one of the villain's henchmen in High Noon (a bit part he apparently got because the director thought he had an evil-looking face) and went on playing mooks in various westerns and films noirs during the 1950s. Then his career gradually fizzled out, partly because he'd injured his leg badly in a car accident but likely also because he had a drinking problem. In the mid-60s, Sergio Leone resurrected Van Cleef's career by giving him major supporting roles in For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which brought him to stardom in Europe. He continued to star in spaghetti westerns for much of his subsequent career.
Van Cleef reportedly claimed to be faster on the draw than Clint Eastwood in real life. He's also one of relatively few actors to appear in more than one movie on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (he was in both It Conquered the World and Master Ninja).
- Badass Mustache
- Bald of Awesome/Bald of Evil
- Good Eyes, Evil Eyes (the latter)
- Piercing Stare
- Pipe Smoking Is Cool
- Red Right Hand: Missing finger joint (he accidentally sawed it off while building a playhouse for his daughter)
- Villainous Cheekbones
- High Noon
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
- For a Few Dollars More
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- Escape from New York