Looking Back on Karl Urban’s Best, Most Diabolical Film and Television Roles

6 Min Read
James Minchin/Amazon Studios

On this fine day, the 7th of June, we gather here to celebrate the birthday of an iconic actor from New Zealand that has made an unforgettable name for himself over the years, touting an impressive filmography with appearances across several major franchises. We’re of course referring to the one and only Karl Urban.

In honor of Urban’s birthday today, join us as we take a look back at some of his best and most memorable roles that he’s taken on throughout the years across both film and television.

Billy Butcher, The Boys

Jasper Savage/Amazon Studios

Urban’s most recent and current role is that of the cunning and diabolical Billy Butcher on Amazon Studios’ hit series The Boys. Set in a world where superheroes exist, The Boys is based on the comic book series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. While the show is downright wild, vulgar, and explicit on all fronts, the source material itself is a plentiful playground of dark absurdity. Over the course of two seasons thus far, Urban has done an incredible job bringing this live-action version of Butcher to the screen, playing a devilishly charming yet twisted opposite to Antony Starr’s Homelander. Looking forward to season 3 (which is currently in production) and beyond, we can confidently say Urban and his killer one-liners will continue to lead this show on a path to success in all of his bearded, Aloha shirt-wearing glory.

Dr. Leonard H. “Bones” McCoy, Star Trek

Paramount Pictures

When Karl Urban joined the cast of the Kelvin timeline Star Trek reboot, which premiered in 2009, he had a large pair of shoes to fill taking on the role of the late DeForest Kelley’s Dr. Leonard H. “Bones” McCoy. Urban took on this challenge in stride, paying tribute to Kelley while also bringing his own unique talents to the character, and he put on a performance that ultimate brought the original Spock — Leonard Nimoy — to tears. Urban went on to portray Bones in the subsequent films Into Darkness and Beyond as well and has ultimately earned his place as a beloved and memorable part of the Star Trek universe.

Éomer, The Lord of the Rings

New Line Cinema

Another franchise in Urban’s illustrious career is Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which has withstood the test of time for over a decade. He took up the mantle of Éomer, Marshall of the Riddermark, and eventually King of Rohan with the necessary grit and vehemence needed to play a man of the Rohirrim. He starred in both The Two Towers and Return of the King, leading the Riders of Rohan fiercely into battle not once, but twice, against the forces of Saruman and Sauron, respectively, with two of the most memorable scenes in each of those films.

Skurge, Thor: Ragnarok

Marvel Studios/Disney

Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok was a gift to the Marvel Cinematic Universe when it hit theaters in 2017, full of action-packed moments, gut-busting laughter, and surprises galore. Amongst the epic cast was Urban, who made his formal entrance to the Marvel franchise with the fearsome Skurge. (Fun fact: Waititi shaved Urban’s head himself!) From Einherjar warrior, to guardian of the Bifrost, to janitor, to executioner, to hero, Skurge had quite a wild ride throughout the film as he jumped from one career to the next before his untimely-yet-heroic death.

Judge Dredd, Dredd


Based on the 2000 AD comic strip, the 2012 sci-fi action flick Dredd takes place in a violent, dystopian city. Urban is Judge Dredd, a law enforcer that carries the powers of judge, jury, and executioner over the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Mega-City One. The film follows Urban’s character as he fights to bring order to a 200-story high-rise controlled by its resident drug lord. Urban spends the film covered in armor and a helmet, showing only the lower half of his face, and he brings an unprecedented level of intimidation to his mysterious, deadly character.

Detective John Kennex, Almost Human


A fascinating sci-fi crime drama that fell victim to an untimely cancellation after just one season, Almost Human follows the exploits of Urban’s Detective John Kennex and the android Dorian as they learn to work together in the field. Although we were only able to spend a short 13-episode run with these characters, Urban does a stellar job in portraying Kennex’s character growth as he fights to move on past the trauma that led to his 17-month coma while also learning how to get over his dislike of androids thanks to his unique, witty partner.

What are some of your other favorite roles that Urban has held over the years? This list is but a brief introduction to his lengthy filmography, so let us know in the comments below!

Nerds and Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Share this Article
By Lindsey
Lindsey joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2018. She has spent a large portion of her life dedicated to her first love, photography. When she's not behind the camera, she's likely reading books and comics or dabbling in creative writing. Otherwise, she's probably yelling about Star Wars, Marvel, anime, or Ted Lasso. Contact: lindsey@nerdsandbeyond.com
Leave a comment