5. Colonel Tavington – The Patriot

Jason Isaacs as Colonel Tavington in The Patriot

History is practically bursting with interesting conflicts, and in each one there are countless exciting and appropriately epic stories. Take the 2000 movie The Patriot, for example: it tells the story of an American colonist dragged into war after one of his sons is murdered by a cruel British officer. Starring Mel Gibson, Joely Richardson, Heath Ledger, and Jason Isaacs, The Patriot tells a dramatic and appropriately epic tale of the American Revolutionary War.

Though The Patriot isn’t exactly known for its historical accuracy, the film’s villain was heavily based on a real historical figure. The cruel Colonel Tavington (Isaacs) was written to represent Sir Banastre Tarleton, a British general and politician. Tarleton led the British legion at the end of the American Revolution, and supposedly shared a number of traits with Tavington.

There’s very little to establish whether or not Tavington’s psychopathic and unnecessarily brutal ways could ever be attributed to Tarleton, but it’s thought to be incredibly unlikely. Tarleton survived the Revolutionary War and continued to serve Britain in other conflicts, eventually dying in 1833. Still, The Patriot needed a plausible villain, and who makes a more believable villain than a British baronet?