This month I want to take a step back from the endless tirade of political outrage that has consumed so many of us for the past four years. Yes, there’s still plenty of work to be done, but I feel it is important to step back, take a break, and appreciate some of the things that make life worth living. And for this queer warlock on lockdown, that means (mostly) movies and TV.
These are my top ten favorite pop culture warlocks of all time. Some are good. Some are bad. And some are really, really bad – like, terrible. But I still love them. Hold on to your broomsticks, boys!
Ambrose Spellman (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
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Chance Perdomo, who portrays Ambrose Spellman on Sabrina.
Not only is he sexy and queer (let’s hear it for bisexual visibility!), this main member of the cast of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is often a go-to character for when things go awry. Need help with that dire magical problem? Need to cast an ancient spell to avert an apocalypse? Ambrose is the man. He can perform an autopsy and summon eldritch powers all before noon. (And doesn’t he look great for being 134? What’s his beauty regimen? Eye of Newt? Blood of Bat? Potion of Olay?)
“He’s come from the past to destroy the future.” The unnamed titular character of this delightfully cheesy horror movie from 1989 was played by Julian Sands. Though in the move he always refers to himself as a “witch”, he is the son of Satan, condemned to die in the 17th century for trafficking with the Devil, but uses his dark magic to jump forward into the present day. Pursued by a witch-hunter (Richard E. Grant), the warlock seeks to find the three pieces of “The Devil’s Bible,” which contains the true name of God, which he can then pronounce backwards to unmake the world. It was a lot of fun and so bad that it spawned two sequels, the second of which also starring Sands. (I never saw the third but will probably have to bring myself to do so one of these days.)
Killian Gardiner (Witches of East End)
This sexy and darkly brooding warlock from Witches of East End (played by the handsome Daniel Di Tomasso) was the black sheep of his family, making him all the more alluring. (Bad boys, am I right?) He has a life-long rivalry with his brother, fellow warlock Dash Gardiner, which is cemented when Killian sleeps with Dash’s fiancé. It all goes downhill from there. Witches of East End was a great show, but ended abruptly with a cliffhanger. Still, Killian will always have a special place in my black warlock’s heart.
Uncle Arthur (Bewitched)
Samantha Steven’s wacky uncle on the 1960s/70s sitcom Bewitched is an absolute must addition to this list. He not only made warlocks palatable, but as played by the incomparable Paul Lynde (1926-1982), he also helped to usher in some visibility for gay men. Lynde never officially came out publicly – but damn, did he come so close. For these reasons he is definitely one of my mighty dead, and I challenge anyone to fight me over it.
Adam (The Craft: Legacy)
I’m really only including him because he was played by David Duchovny, and I love me some David Duchovny. But let’s face it, The Craft: Legacy was bad. Like, so bad. I wanted to like it. It did start out great, and I loved the diverse cast, complete with one of the witches being trans – but the story was terrible. Terrible! However, this isn’t a movie review: this is a warlock review. By the end I was rooting for the evil warlock because I hoped he would end it all forever. Was it worth the whole movie to get to the final scene reveal? The audience will have to be the judge. (Nancy, forever!)
Behold Chablis (American Horror Story: Apocalypse)
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One of the best-dressed warlocks of all time: Billy Porter at Ryan Seacrest’s “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve 2021.”
The instructor for the Hawthorne School for Exceptional Young Men in the TV hit American Horror Story: Apocalypse was played by the fabulous Billy Porter. A powerful warlock since birth, he is said to have manifested two of the seven wonders and the witches’ “supreme” (Cordelia Goode) considers him a powerful ally. Not only is he powerful, he also delivers one of the show’s best lines: “Now let’s see if you’ve been practicing your spells, or just fiddling with your wand.” Touché!
Caleb Danvers (The Covenant)
This hunky star of The Covenant (played by Steven Strait who went on to star in the current science fiction series The Expanse) is the de facto leader of the “Sons of Ipswich,” four young men who are descendants of colonial witch families who have been growing into their powers since they turned 13. Now, as they near 18, they will “ascend” to their full potential. But there is a price: using their powers makes them age supernaturally quickly and their abilities are so strong and seductive that they can barely resist. Caleb is the voice of reason in the film and resists using his addictive power unless it is absolutely necessary. (As a bonus, this means he gets to keep his good looks). Oh, and there’s another warlock come to take their powers, blah, blah, blah. The Covenant is a terrible movie, but it’s fun eye-candy, nonetheless.
Nicky Holroyd (Bell Book and Candle)
This hip, beatnik warlock played by Jack Lemmon (1925-2001) was a great addition to the cast of the 1958 comedy-fantasy Bell Book and Candle. He’s the brother of Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak), a then-modern day witch living in Greenwich Village. He plays only a supporting role, but his presence and his light, smiling persona added to an air of acceptance of the big screen witches. And man, could he play those bongos.
Harry Dresden (The Dresden Files)
This 17-book (and counting!) Dresden Files series was turned into the all-too short-lived TV series, where the main character was played by Paul Blackthorne. (How witchy of a last name is that?). He is technically called a wizard in the books and show, but since his mother was a witch, I feel he should be included here. Always fighting on the side of what is right, and maybe a bit flawed, this show had a bit of that private eye/film noir feel to it. Coupled with Blackthorne’s rugged good looks, it made for a great combination. I’m still wishing they’d bring him back.
John Constantine (Constantine)
This DC comic book character, star of the long-running series Hellblazer, was reimagined both for the big and small screens, played by Keanu Reeves in the movie Constantine and by Matt Ryan on the TV show of the same name. Constantine is a working-class detective and warlock with a troubled past. Foul-mouthed, snarky, irreverent, and bisexual (his history of both male and female lovers is well documented in the comics), he has a knack for thwarting the forces of darkness. He does so repeatedly, mainly out of a sense of guilt for having inadvertently caused a child to be taken by a demon to hell years prior. This event causes him to have a mental breakdown and his wounded nature is a major element of the characters’ personality. (And makes him all the sexier, if you ask me.)
Honorable mentions should go to Nick Scratch of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (I just didn’t want more than one from a single fandom, and Ambrose is my man) and also to the LGBT soap opera Dante’s Cove, which featured a slew of gay warlocks but was really just an excuse for soft-core porn. I couldn’t watch that much of it back in the day, despite the gratuitous eye-candy, but maybe I should give it another try? Talk me down, people.
And there we have it: my current favorites from the small and silver screens. But with so many TV and moves dealing with magic and Witchcraft, I’m sure to have missed some of The Wild Hunt’s readers’ favorites. What other warlocks deserve to be on this list?