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The Willem Dafoe Bio

The Willem Dafoe Review –

by Nate Lee

Best Film:


Dafoe has sought out plenty of wonderful roles in small films, but, honestly, his big films (below) and his medium dramas (above) are the best, even when he's playing a cameo. Platoon, still one of the best war pictures ever, has Dafoe battling Tom Berenger for the hearts and minds of recruits such as Charlie Sheen.

Great Performances You May Not Have Seen:
Shadow of the Vampire (Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as an actor playing Nosferatu)
Mississippi Burning (FBI agent)
Wild at Heart (sociopath)
Tom and Viv (T.S. Eliot)
Autofocus (John Carpenter, the killer of actor Bob Crane)
American Dreamz (advisor to the President)
Spider-Man (Green Goblin)
Platoon (Oscar-nominated performance as a sergeant in Viet Nam)
Last Temptation of Christ (Jesus)
Inside Man (NYPD cop)
The English Patient (Caravaggio)
Clear and Present Danger
Born on the Fourth of July (a paraplegic vet)
To Live and Die in L.A. (counterfeiter)
The Real Willem Dafoe:
Tom and Viv

The real Dafoe, perhaps more than Malkovich or Sinise or any of the Steppenwolf crew, is a stage actor. If there is a video of Eugene O'Neill's "The Hairy Ape," which he did with the Wooster Group, that's the kind of intensity that he is seeking. Like T.S. Eliot, Dafoe is an artist making it in a commercial world.
Acting Style:
A member of New York's prestigious experimental-theatre company, Wooster Group, Dafoe is about as serious an actor as you could ask for. Knowing that helps to appreciate the subtleties and layers he brings to every role, even – or especially – the more "Hollywood" roles. A little guy, he brings off incredibly effective villains, possibly better than such heroic roles as Christ.
Bits and Quirks:
The leer, made famous in Spider-Man. Intense eyes and an angular face, he works to great effect. Great stares, especially with the head thrust forward. Even his smiles can seem ominous. The strange crackly voice.
Great Scenes:

> Talking to himself in the mirror
> Confronting Spider-Man
> The Thanksgiving scene.

To Live and Die in L.A.

> Burning the money


> Dying scene, reaching up to the sky

Inside Man

> Pissing contest with Denzel Washington as cops in charge of bank robbery investigation and hostage negotiation

American Psycho

> Confronting Christian Bale in his office with the evidence of Bales' murders
Go to the... Willem Dafoe Bio