How to Create a Multi-Dimensional Villain

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A Sense Of Purpose Movie Poster, #ASOPmovie 

When actor John Quinlan was cast as the leading male, Captain Jake Nixon, in the upcoming movie “A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives,” he had no idea how that character would change his life. But before that is addressed, today we will talk about – How to create a multi-dimensional villain.

What Makes A Villain Well Rounded?

In order for a villain to be multi-dimensional the audience must see that character as multifaceted or well-rounded. If he is just pure evil, most times that would make the character boring. In real life people aren’t just one thing, they are a combination of many things – a mother, a husband, a wife, a father, an employer, an employee, a student, a caregiver, etc. The same goes for the development of a villain. He feels. He bleeds. He loves. He’s had heartbreaks and failures. He’s had disappointments and joys. Why is he evil? What happened to make him this way? Did something happen in his childhood? How did he become who he is now? What was that turning point in his life?
Most writers will spend more time developing the protagonist (the hero) then the antagonist (anti-hero). But to write a well-rounded villain, a writer should know that character just as much, if not better than the hero. A writer should know the antagonist so thoroughly that in a sense that character takes on a life of its own.


How John Quinlan Landed The Role

 (John Quinlan as Captain Nixon)
Four years ago, Jillian Bullock, the writer, director and producer of “A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives,” began working on the script. It was around this time that she “met” John Quinlan on Facebook. John reached out to Jillian, who was a journalist, to see if she’d be interested in doing a fitness story on him since both of them were into fitness and health. As Jillian wrote the article she got to know John very well. They realized they had a lot in common and soon a friendship developed.
For the next couple of years, they began to talk and Jillian learned that John had a tough upbringing and that he was currently going through some very difficult issues in his life. What Jillian also gathered from her talks with John was that despite what he was going through, he remained focused, dedicated, and disciplined when it came to his craft of being a bodybuilding, a fitness model, and a romance book cover model.

Up at three o’clock each morning, John prepares his healthy food (protein shakes, veggies and chicken, gallons of water) before he heads to the gym. This routine he has done for 25 years.
Jillian was so impressed with John’s work ethic that by the time she finished the script she knew he would be perfect for the role of Army Captain Jake Nixon, the emotionally damaged, imperfect man who wears his heart on his sleeve, but who also happened to be a serial rapist. A complex and complicated character indeed.

The Journey To One Day Become An Actor 

Everybody takes different paths to fulfill their dreams. John decided being in the fitness industry, having a nice face and body, would one day put the “right eyes” on him. Hence, he would be discovered.


(Junior Bodybuilder Model Shoot) 





During wrestling skits the wrestlers in a sense are actors as they cut promos and commercials for their character. They perform by selling their character to the audience, who many times thinks what they’re seeing is real.

(Pro wrestler year 2000)

Romance Cover Model 

John retired from bodybuilding in 2016. But during his years of lifting weight and sculpting his body, he was also modeling for national and international magazines and on-line publications. He also became a romance book cover model. John has graced the cover of over 60 books. 

Part of John’s duties as a romance cover model is attending the RT Book Lovers Convention each year in order to meet the authors and fans, sign autographs, take photos and network. There are usually 600 authors who attend each year, along with roughly 3,500 fans.

“I remember the 1st RT Convention back in 2013. I walked seven blocks with my bags in the rain to the hotel,” John said. “I was a newbie and did what had to be done.”

(First Year – 2013 – Author Sara Humphreys, RT Convention Kansas City)

                   (Second Year – 2014- Tina DeSalvo, RT Convention New Orleans, ‘Friends Fight Together’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign    with John Quinlan) 

(Third Year – 2015 – RT Convention Dallas Readers & Writers Roundup Featured Cover Model) 

 (Fourth Year – 2016 – RT Convention Las Vegas autograph signing) 

 (Fifth and Final Year – 2017 – RT Convention Atlanta, GA) 

Except for gracing the cover with Jillian Bullock for the upcoming erotic psychological novel, “Shadows of Love, Betrayal and Murder, John won’t be doing anymore book cover as he turns his full attention to acting.

Finally An Actor

(Director Jillian Bullock and Actor John Quinlan) 

In his first acting role how did John so brilliantly pull off the character Captain Nixon, who is truly a complex, multi-layered, troubled rapist? It all started with the actor going deep inside his character and using his own pain, hardships, troubles, disappointments, fears, doubts, etc., or what we in the film business call – Method Acting.

John knows he is nothing like his character, but for people who don’t know him and for audiences who will see the movie he will be seen as more than just a villain. His character, in their eyes, is the lowest form of a human being – a rapist. John said: “If people hate me, then I’ve done my job as an actor.” 

The next transition for John is to move from Boston to Philadelphia so he can be closer to New York, go to auditions, take acting lessons, and be around those in the film industry. He will make the move to Philadelphia in the next month and stay with friends as he navigates his way and learns from others in the business, like Writer/Director Jillian Bullock and DP/Editor Lamont Fountain. 

(Lamont Fountain and Jillian Bullock) 

“I’m learning from two of the best and most talented people in the film business,” John stated. “And with Jillian being my mentor, who is guiding my acting career, I am beyond blessed. Being new to this business, I know nothing and I would be nothing without her.”

Questions for The Actor, The Man 

Since John was a young man he has always had a plan to better his life and he believed that each step in the right direction, along with hard word, would get him closer to his goal – to become a solid and successful actor in the TV and film industry.

1) Why do you want to be an actor?
I remember growing up as a young boy and seeing so many great actors on screen. I’d look at them as if they were God like with superhero type qualities. So from a very young age the acting industry definitely peaked my interest simply because it made such a lasting impact on me over the years. The thought of myself having that same impact as an actor on others is truly something special.

2) What do you hope to achieve in in the next five years?
Everybody dreams of being successful and I would also like to be able to bring my life full circle as a good human being in this society. I obviously want to keep honing my skills as an actor and keep moving forward in a positive light in the entertainment industry. I would definitely like to be viewed as a role model and an inspiration to kids all over the world who have dreams of being successful and through hard work and never quitting can accomplish just that. Bringing my life full circle also means being able to give back to all those who helped me all on my long journey. I have also always wanted to have a foundation in my name to help those in need.

3) What is the hardest sacrifice you have to make now in order to achieve your dream to be a successful actor?
I think the hardest sacrifice I’ve had to make is giving up friends and family along my journey. Traveling a lot and being away can be tough at times especially with young children but these are the sacrifices we make when the desire burns deep from within one’s heart to achieve our goals.

(Will Smith) 

It is a long road that comes with taking a lot of chances and overcoming a lot of fears but as the great actor Will Smith says, “once you get past your greatest fears your life’s greatest moments are waiting on the other side.” 

4) Now that ASOP is completed what are your plans to further your acting career?
I really immersed myself in the role of Captain Nixon in ASOP who was a very multi-dimensional character. I was honored that director and producer Jillian Bullock selected me for this lead male actor role and I was humbled by all the great reviews I have received on it thus far. During my time in the entertainment industry I have found it is really difficult to plan too far ahead as things happen when you least expect it and you always have to be flexible. Regardless of the roles I receive after this movie I will continue to work very hard as an actor.

Make The Villain Human 

John has taken on the role of a villain who will be relatable to many people, because he is human. The character has a soft and vulnerable side at times. He is loving and sweet. He is conflicted about being a rapist and many other dark secrets that haunts him. Despite the causative trauma he suffered in his childhood, he wants to make amends for his actions. Since Captain Nixon isn’t a nefarious sociopath many people will see parts of themselves in his character. They may loathe his actions, but then turn around and for a moment show compassion for Captain Nixon.

John loved portraying Nixon, a character he could sink his teeth into. Many actors love to play evil characters because they’re more fun to do. They get away with being bad. If as a writer, you can have your audiences swaying back and forth between hating and loving a villain you have written your  anti-hero well.

Keep In Touch With John Quinlan

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