Cheat Sheet: Willem Dafoe


William J. Dafoe

Date of Birth:

22nd July 1955

Place of birth:

Appleton, Wisconsin

Special moves:

Acting, mad staring eyes, watching Charlotte Gainsbourg perform an autoclitoridectomy.

Films include:

Platoon, Wild at Heart, The English Patient, American Psycho, Spider-Man, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Shadow of the Vampire, Antichrist.

What you probably already know:

Since his breakout performance in Platoon in 1986, Dafoe has died a lot, in a lot of films of varying worth. He has tried to challenge audience perceptions by constantly taking on diverse roles across a variety of genres and has managed to prove himself to be not only a bankable actor, but a quite highly regarded one too. There have been occasions when his career has floundered however, and whilst he was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Platoon and Shadow of a Vampire) he was also nominated for two Razzies Awards for Worst Supporting Actor in Body Of Evidence and Speed 2: Cruise Control.

Dafoe has been over looked for various mainstream roles throughout his career and was in consideration to play The Joker in Batman, a role which ended up going to Jack Nicholson even though screenwriter Sam Hamm said “We (Tim Burton) thought, ‘Well, Willem Dafoe looks just like The Joker.'” Seriously, with that boost behind you, Dafoe, how could you not land the part? More recently though, Dafoe has struck up a working relationship with Nazi sympathising lunatic, Lars von Trier, working together on the controversial and quite frankly icky film Antichrist. Dafoe wussed out of the real hot and heavy scenes with Charlotte Gainsbourg in the film, asking that porn actors get involved instead but we still all had to watch him ejaculating blood all over the place anyway. (Doesn’t really seem fair now does it?) When he isn’t releasing bodily fluids on film, Dafoe has also lent his voice to be used for various animated children’s films such as Finding Nemo and Fantastic Mr. Fox which was the second collaboration between Dafoe and director Wes Anderson, previously working together on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Willem Dafoe is arguably best known by kids everywhere today for being the Green Goblin in Sam Rami’s Spider-Man. Highs and lows then really for old Billy (is it ok if we call you Billy?) and with another von Trier movie on the way (The Nymphomaniac…we dread to think…) it looks like the lows might stick around for another few years yet.

What you might not know:

Dafoe is one of the founding members of experimental theatre company the Wooster Group and acted in it until 2000. When we say experimental, we mean experimental (it was the 1970s…need I say more) and with shows titled L.S.D who knows what Dafoe was up to, perhaps it might explain the quite frankly alarming expression he seems to have permanently plastered on his face though. Dafoe was kicked out of high school for making a video which was deemed highly pornographic and later dropped out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he was studying theatre to go to New York to act. He apprenticed under theatre practitioner/professor (and writer of tedious textbooks) Richard Schechner and was a part of Schechner’s own theatre company before edging him out and continuing the group without him.

Dafoe sticks to an all organic diet but as of 2008 is no longer a vegetarian (meat is where it is at, Billy!) He practises Yoga and in 2008 married Italian actress Giada Colagrande after splitting from long term partner Elizabeth LeCompte who was a co-founder of the Wooster Group. Apparently whilst playing Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ Dafoe could not see for three days after putting in too many eye drops that dilated his pupils to achieve a ‘superhuman’ look. He also came down with a 24 hour fever on the set of Platoon after contracting Yellow Fever. Can’t take him anywhere can you? Willem Dafoe also managed to punch Tobey Maguire in the face during one of the fight scenes in Spider-Man. What a hero!

Willem Dafoe quote:

” I’ve been a prisoner and lived in prison for a while; I’ve been a missionary in China; I’ve been a vampire and a priest in Poland in World War II.” You sure have, Billy.

What to say at a dinner party:

Dafoe’s foray into experimental theatre in the 70s under the tutorage of the esteemed professor, Richard Schechner, helped hone his craft and create the adept character actor we see today. Bwahahahaha…Pass the Beaujolais, please”.

What not to say at a dinner party:

“So, didn’t have the balls to do your own bloody masturbation scene then? Lame…”

Final thought:

Think you know all there is about Billy Dafoe now? Go on, prove yourself…take this fun quiz!

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