Willem Dafoe – MovieActors.com

Willem Dafoe was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar
playing Vincent Van Gogh in AT ETERNITY'S GATE (2018).

About Willem Dafoe (1955 – ____)

William James Dafoe, known professionally as Willem Dafoe was born in Appleton, Wisconsin. One of eight children of Muriel Isabel (née Sprissler) and Dr. William Alfred Dafoe (1917-2014), he recalled in 2009: "My five sisters raised me because my father was a surgeon, my mother was a nurse and they worked together, so I didn't see either of them much." He has German, English, Irish, Scottish, and French ancestry. In high school, he acquired the nickname Willem, which is the Dutch version of the name William.

Dafoe studied drama at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, but left after a year and a half to join the experimental theater company Theatre X in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before moving to New York in 1976. There he apprenticed under Richard Schechner, director of the avant-garde theater troupe The Performance Group, where he met and became romantically involved with Elizabeth LeCompte. She, with her one-time romantic partner Spalding Gray and others, edged out Schechner and created the Wooster Group. Within a year Dafoe was part of the company.

Dafoe, who would continue with the Wooster Group into the 2000s, began his film career in 1981, when he was cast in Heaven's Gate only to see his role removed from the film during editing.

In 1982, he starred as the leader of an Outlaw motorcycle club in The Loveless, and then played a similar role in Streets of Fire (1984). In the mid-1980s, he was cast by William Friedkin to star in To Live and Die in L.A., in which Dafoe portrays counterfeiter Rick Masters. He became "very conscious" that he might be typecast as a villain.

Dafoe would go on to gain his widest exposure up to that point playing the compassionate Sergeant Elias in Oliver Stone's Platoon. He enjoyed the opportunity to play a heroic role, and said the film gave him a chance to display his versatility. "I think all characters live in you. You just frame them, give them circumstances, and that character will happen."

In 1988, Dafoe starred in another film set during the Vietnam War, this time as CID Agent Buck McGriff in Off Limits. He has since become a popular character actor. He is often cast as unstable or villainous characters, such as the Green Goblin in Spider-Man and Barillo in Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Before that, he was briefly considered for the role of the Joker by Tim Burton and Sam Hamm for 1989's Batman. Hamm recalls "We thought, 'Well, Willem Dafoe looks just like The Joker.'" The role eventually went to Jack Nicholson.

Dafoe starred in the erotic drama Body of Evidence with Madonna. In 1991, he portrayed a Manhattan drug dealer in the Paul Schrader film Light Sleeper. Dafoe played an eccentric FBI agent in The Boondock Saints and a private investigator in American Psycho. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1986 for Platoon and 2000 for Shadow of the Vampire. He played a rare heroic film role when he provided the voice of Gill in the animated film Finding Nemo. Dafoe also played a heroic leading man in Triumph of the Spirit, Salamo Arouch, a Greek Jew who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp through his prowess as a boxer. In 1998 he played the brother of Nick Nolte and son of James Coburn in another Schrader film, Affliction.

In 2004, Dafoe lent his likeness and voice for the James Bond video game Everything or Nothing as the villain Nikolai Diavolo, and starred as NYPD detective Stan Aubray in the thriller Anamorph. From 2002 to 2007, he played the villain Green Goblin in the Spider-Man trilogy.

Dafoe starred alongside Marina Abramović and his A Family Man co-star Gretchen Mol in the 2011 Manchester International Festival premiere of the play The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, and played the role again in the 2013 Luminato Festival North American premiere of the play The Life and Death of Marina Abramović.

Dafoe played fictional author Peter Van Houten in the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars. In 2017, he played and voiced Ryuk in Death Note, the American adaptation of the Japanese manga of the same name. Also that year, he played scientist Nuidis Vulko in Zack Snyder's Justice League; co-starred as Gerhard Hardman in a film adaptation of Agatha Christie's detective novel Murder on the Orient Express, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh; and played Bobby Hicks in the drama The Florida Project, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his performance.

Dafoe met director Elizabeth LeCompte at The Performance Group, and the two began a professional and personal relationship there and at its successor company, The Wooster Group. Their son, Jack, was born in 1982.

Dafoe married Italian actress, director and screenwriter Giada Colagrande on March 25, 2005, a year after the two had met in Rome at the premiere of one of her films. Dafoe said in 2010, "We were having lunch and I said: 'Do you want to get married tomorrow?'" They did so the following afternoon at a small ceremony with two friends as witnesses. The two worked together on the film Before It Had a Name. The couple divide their time among Rome, New York City, and Los Angeles. He now holds both Italian and American citizenship.

Dafoe said in 2008 that he is no longer practicing vegetarianism. His brother, Donald Dafoe, is a transplant surgeon and researcher.

In June 2016, he stirred up controversy in Italy while visiting The Floating Piers on Lake Iseo. Dafoe was photographed on a section while thousands of people were denied access. The local press suggested the closure might have been orchestrated to allow Dafoe to enjoy the installation without the crowds.

Willem Dafoe's movie credits include...

Year Movie Role
1980Heaven's GateWilly
1982The LovelessVance
1983The HungerYouth in Phone Booth
1984New York NightsPunk Boyfriend[35]
1984Streets of FireRaven Shaddock
1985Roadhouse 66Johnny Harte
1985To Live and Die in L.A.Erick "Rick" Masters
1986PlatoonSergeant Gordon Elias
1987Dear America: Letters Home from VietnamElephant Grass
1988Off LimitsBuck McGriff
1988The Last Temptation of ChristJesus of Nazareth
1988Mississippi BurningAgent Alan Ward
1989Triumph of the SpiritSalamo Arouch
1989Born on the Fourth of JulyCharlie
1990Cry-BabyHateful Guard
1990Wild at HeartBobby Peru
1991Flight of the IntruderLt. Cmdr. Virgil "Tiger" Cole
1992Light SleeperJohn LeTour
1992White SandsDeputy Sheriff Ray Dolezal
1993Body of EvidenceFrank Dulaney
1993Faraway, So Close!Emit Flesti
1994Tom & VivT. S. Eliot
1994Clear and Present DangerJohn Clark
1994The Night and the MomentThe Writer
1996VictoryAxel Heyst
1996BasquiatThe Electrician
1996The English PatientDavid Caravaggio
1997Speed 2: Cruise ControlJohn Geiger
1997AfflictionRolfe Whitehouse
1998Lulu on the BridgeDr. Van Horn
1998New Rose HotelX
1999The Boondock SaintsAgent Paul Smecker
2000American PsychoDonald Kimball
2000Animal FactoryEarl Copen
2000Shadow of the VampireMax Schreck
2000BullfighterFather Ramirez
2001Pavilion of WomenFather Andre
2001Edges of the LordPriest
2002Spider-ManNorman Osborn/Green Goblin
2002Auto FocusJohn Henry Carpenter
2003Finding NemoGill
2003Once Upon a Time in MexicoArmando Barillo
2003The ReckoningMartin
2004The ClearingArnold Mack
2004Spider-Man 2Norman Osborn
2004The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouKlaus Daimler
2004ControlDr. Michael Copeland
2004Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's GateNarrator
2004The AviatorRoland Sweet
2005XXX: State of the UnionGeneral George Deckert
2005ManderlayMr. Mulligan
2005Before It Had a NameLeslie
2005Ripley Under GroundNeil Murchison
2006American DreamzChief of Staff
2006Inside ManCaptain John Darius
2006Paris, je t'aimeThe Cowboy
2007The WalkerLarry Lockner
2007Mr. Bean's HolidayCarson Clay
2007Spider-Man 3Norman Osborn
2007Tales from EarthseaCob
2007Go Go TalesRay Ruby
2007The ProcedureChristopher
2007AnamorphStan Aubrey
2008Fireflies in the GardenCharles Waechter
2008Adam ResurrectedCommandant Klein
2008The Dust of TimeA
2009Affaire FarewellFeeney
2009My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?Detective Havenhurst
2009DaybreakersLionel "Elvis" Cormac
2009Fantastic Mr. FoxRat
2009The Boondock Saints II: All Saints DayPaul Smecker
2009Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's AssistantGavner Purl
2010A WomanMax Oliver
20114:44 Last Day on EarthCisco
2011The HunterMartin David
2012John CarterTars Tarkas
2012Tomorrow You're GoneThe Buddha
2013Odd ThomasWyatt Porter
2013Out of the FurnaceJohn Petty
2014A Most Wanted ManTommy Brue
2014The Grand Budapest HotelJ.G. Jopling
2014Bad CountryBud Carter
2014The Fault in Our StarsPeter Van Houten
2014PasoliniPier Paolo Pasolini
2014John WickMarcus
2016My Hindu FriendDiego Fairman
2016Dog Eat DogMad Dog
2016Finding DoryGill
2016The Headhunter's CallingEd Blackridge
2016The Great WallBallard
2017Do Donkeys Act?Narrator
2017The Florida ProjectBobby Hicks
2017What Happened to MondayTerrence Settman
2017Death NoteRyuk
2017Justice LeagueNuidis Vulko
2017Murder on the Orient ExpressGerhard Hardman
2017Opus ZeroPaul
2018AquamanNuidis Vulko
2018At Eternity's GateVincent Van Gogh
2019Motherless BrooklynPaul Randolph

Willem Dafoe's television credits include...

Year Show/Series Role
1986The HitchhikerJeffrey Hunt
1991Fishing with JohnHimself
1997The SimpsonsThe Commandant (voice)
2010American ExperienceNarrator (voice)
2014The SimpsonsMr. Lassen (voice)

Academy Nominations/Awards won by Willem Dafoe include...

Year Movie Award
1986PlatoonBest Supporting Actor (nominated)
2000Shadow of the VampireBest Supporting Actor (nominated)
2017The Florida ProjectBest Supporting Actor (nominated)

Memorable Quotes by Willem Dafoe

[on his role in The Last Temptation of Christ] “ To this day, I can't believe I was so brazen to think I could pull off the Jesus role. ”

“ I don't think people want to see me as a regular guy, besides, I'm a regular guy in real life. I guess I just want to be reckless in my work. ”

“ I'm one of those people who when I go over a bridge, I want to jump. It's just this intense tickle in the back of my throat. It's like I'm on the verge the whole time I'm walking over that bridge, and I'm not going to get a release until I jump. ”

“ I never act. I simply bring out the real animal that's in me. ”

“ When you look back at your experiences, it's true that sometimes the most horrendous experiences can translate into being your best work. ”

“ All the time, as an actor, you want to be asking what's next and where things are going. If you're not asking those questions you're not growing. ”

Things You May Not Know About Willem Dafoe

His high school nickname, Willem, stuck with him.

Says he feels like he's missed out on more conventional roles because he's perceived as an eccentric actor in dark little films, kind of the boy-next-door type - if you lived next door to a mausoleum.

He was delirious for 24 hours after coming down with yellow fever on the set of Platoon.

The only actor to ever be nominated for an Oscar for playing a vampire, for his role as Max Schrek in Shadow of the Vampire.

He practices Yoga regularly.

He has German, English, Irish, Northern Irish, Scottish, Swiss-French, and French ancestry. Many of his antecedents lived in Canada.

At_Eternitys_Gate_01 At_Eternitys_Gate_02 At_Eternitys_Gate_03_with_Oscar_Isaac At_Eternitys_Gate_04_with_Oscar_Isaac At_Eternitys_Gate_05
Willem Dafoe as tormented genius Vincent Van Gogh in At
Eternity's Gate (2018)... pictures two and three with Oscar Isaac.
Willem Dafoe with Philip Seymour Hoffman in A Most Wanted Man (2014).
In Anamorph (2007)... bottom picture with Scott Speedman.
With Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist (2009).
In Auto Focus (2002)... top picture with
DonnaMarie Recco... middle picture with Greg Kinnear.
In Body of Evidence (1993)... bottom picture with Madonna.
With Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July (1989).
In Clear and Present Danger (1994)... bottom picture with Harrison Ford.
With Ethan Hawke and Claudia Karvan in Daybreakers (2009).
In Dog Eat Dog (2016)... middle picture with Nicolas Cage...
bottom picture with Cage and Christopher Matthew Cook.
In Faraway, So Close! (1993)... top picture with Nastassja Kinski...
middle picture with Bruno Ganz... bottom picture with Otto Sander.
In Fireflies in the Garden (2008)... top picture with
Cayden Boyd... bottom picture with Boyd and Julia Roberts.
With Taylor Kitsch in John Carter (2012).
In John Wick (2014).
In Light Sleeper (1992)... with Susan Sarandon in pictures 2 and 4.
With Vanessa Redgrave and Hiam Abbass in Miral (2010).
In Mississippi Burning (1988)... with R. Lee Ermey and Gene Hackman
in second picture... with Hackman in pictures 3 through 6.
In Pasolini (2014).
In Oliver Stone's Platoon (1986)... top picture with Johnny Depp... second
picture with Tom Berenger... fourth picture with Berenger and Charlie Sheen.
In Saving Norman (2013)... bottom picture with Nikki Deloach.
In Shadow of the Vampire (2000)... bottom picture with John Malkovich.
In Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)... bottom picture with Sandra Bullock.
In Spider-Man (2002)... top picture with Tobey Maguire.
In The Boondock Saints (1999)... bottom picture with David Ferry and Brian Mahoney.
In The Clearing (2004)... bottom picture with Robert Redford.
In The Florida Project (2017)... bottom picture with Brooklyn Prince.
In The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)... bottom picture with Adrien Brody.
In The Hunter (2011)... third picture with Sam Neill.
In the lead role of Martin Scorsese's controversial The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)... top picture with Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, and Verna Bloom... bottom picture with Keitel and Michael Been.
In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)... middle picture with
Bill Murray... bottom picture with Owen Wilson and Waris Ahluwalia.
In The Loveless (1981).
In To Live and Die in L.A. (1985).
Willem Dafoe and Ice Cube in xXx: State of the Union (2005).