If you're anything like us, you love a femme fatale. Merriam-Webster describes the archetypal character as "a seductive woman who lures men into dangerous or compromising situations" and "a woman who attracts men by an aura of charm and mystery." Rachel Weisz's "My Cousin Rachel" alter ego, the mysterious widow Rachel Ashley, certainly fits that bill! In the gothic melodrama, which debuts on June 9, 2017, Sam Claflin's Philip develops a deep infatuation with Rachel, whom he suspects murdered his closest friend and guardian — even as he plots revenge against her. In honor of the romantic thriller, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at more of our favorite femme fatales in pop culture. Keep reading for more…
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It's one of the most iconic performances ever put on film: Sharon Stone starred as the crime novelist and murderess Catherine Tramell, who seduces the police detective investigating her boyfriend's death, in 1992's "Basic Instinct."
Two years after she brought Mystique to life in "X-Men," Rebecca Romijn starred as the titular former diamond thief opposite Antonio Banderas in the 2002 crime-drama "Femme Fatale." Though the cult classic earned a four-star review from Roger Ebert, it bombed at the box office. It now lives on forever in our hearts!
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In March 2011, Britney Spears released her seventh studio album, "Femme Fatale," which went platinum in the United States and featured four hit singles: "Hold It Against Me," "Till the World Ends," "I Wanna Go" and "Criminal." If you weren't seduced by one of those four bangers, you must not have ears…
Anne Parillaud starred as the titular assassin in the Luc Besson-directed 1990 action-thriller "La Femme Nikita," which spawned two TV adaptations: one starring Peta Wilson that debuted in 1997 and another that premiered in 2010 with Maggie Q in the title role. (Luc has since made a career of bringing ladies who kick butt to the big screen — he also directed "The Fifth Element" and "Lucy.")
The Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed wrote the band's 1967 hit "Femme Fatale" about model-socialite Edie Sedgwick at the behest of Andy Warhol. "Andy said I should write a song about Edie Sedgwick," the late songwriter recalled in his biography. "I said, 'Like what?' and he said, 'Oh, don't you think she's a femme fatale, Lou?' So I wrote 'Femme Fatale.'"
Antonio Banderas sure has faced off against a lot of femme fatales during his movie career… In 2001, he succumbed to the seductions of Angelina Jolie's 19th century con-woman Bonny Castle in "Original Sin." (Just make sure you turn up the A.C. before you watch this erotic thriller because it is H-O-T!)
Nicole Kidman starred as Suzanne Stone, a manipulative news anchor with deadly ambition, in the 1995 Gus Van Sant-directed dark comedy "To Die For." Matt Dillon and Joaquin Phoenix co-starred as two of her lovers and unwitting victims — her husband and his murderer, Suzanne's teen boyfriend — in the flick, for which Nicole won a Golden Globe.
For anyone who hasn't been keeping count: Rihanna has murdered three men in her music videos. First, she took out the man who attacked her on-camera alter ego in 2011's "Man Down." Then she slashed the accountant played by Mads Mikkelsen in 2015's "B—- Better Have My Money." And finally, she gunned down a man getting a lap dance at a strip club in 2016's "Needed Me." And she did it all while looking super-stylish, of course.
Being bad has never looked better than Lena Headey's Cersei Lannister on "Game of Thrones." The English actress has earned three Emmy nominations for her performance as the beautiful, power-hungry schemer. (She also kicked butt as the title character on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.")
The femme fatale is nothing new. Barbara Stanwyck starred as Phyllis Dietrichson, a housewife plotting to kill her husband in order to score a major payout from his life insurance policy, in 1944's "Double Indemnity." The noir scored seven Oscar nominations back in the day, including best picture, best lead actress and best director.
No one does femme fatale better than Eva Green. She's portrayed some of our favorite sirens on the big screen — from Artemisia in "300: Rise of an Empire" to Vesper Lynd in "Casino Royale." But we love her most as Ava Lord, the titular dame in 2014's "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For." The melodramatic comic book adaptation may be mostly unwatchable, but it's worth the hour and a half of your life to see Eva as Ava.
Rosamund Pike earned an Oscar nomination for her work as Amy Dunne, the sociopathic title character in 2014's "Gone Girl." "What is frightening about Amy is precisely that she isn't just a femme fatale, the film isn't just about a scheming manipulator," the actress told Australia's News.com. "The beauty of her being a sociopath is that we were duped by her, that this very familiar-seeming girl who we feel we might know then turns into the impossible mastermind and you are just sort of baffled by her ruthlessness and her cunning." We couldn't have said it better ourselves!
Linda Fiorentino starred as the seductive Bridget Gregory in the 1994 noir "The Last Seduction," which scored a 94 percent fresh rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The brunette beauty earned a Film Independent Spirit Award for her portrayal of the manipulative murderess, who attempts to convince her new lover to kill her husband.
"Les Liaisons Dangereuses" has been adapted for the big screen countless times over the years, but our favorite iteration by far is 1999's "Cruel Intentions," in which Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as the manipulative teen seductress Kathryn Merteuil.
Ellen Barkin's ruthless but sexy Smurf is the matriarch of the Cody crime family on TNT's "Animal Kingdom," a TV adaptation of the 2010 Australian crime-drama of the same name. It isn't exactly new territory for the Emmy winner, who once starred opposite Al Pacino as a woman suspected of murdering her lovers in 1989's "Sea of Love."
Megan Fox is half cheerleader, half succubus, full femme fatale in the 2009 dark comedy "Jennifer's Body." The teen murderess seduces and devours (literally) her male classmates after a rock band sacrifices her to Satan in exchange for fame. Both hilarity and horror ensue.
Katey Sagal schemed her way into our hearts — and into a Golden Globe win — with her performance as Gemma Teller Morrow, the manipulative matriarch of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, on the FX drama "Sons of Anarchy," which aired from 2008 to 2014.
"I'm not bad; I'm just drawn that way," Kathleen Turner memorably cooed as Jessica Rabbit — a voluptuous animated nightclub singer suspected of framing her husband, Roger Rabbit, for murder — in the 1988 fantasy-noir "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," which earned three Oscars and scored a 97 percent fresh rating with critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
We were seduced by the ladies of the short-lived Cinemax anthology series "Femme Fatales" for two seasons between 2011 and 2012. Model-actress Tanit Phoenix Copley (Sharlto's wife) starred as Lilith, the show's host and narrator. "Every episode is completely separate from the other. The only thing linking all of them is Lilith, the character I play," she told IGN. "She's the most fabled of all the femme fatales and she leads the audience on a journey, introducing them to these women that are killing men." Bring it back, Cinemax!