Willem Dafoe Interview

When the term character actor is used in film discourse, Willem Dafoe is one of the most common actors to come to the collective mind of cinephiles. However, he is, and always has been, a leading man who simply isn’t deterred by the size, or lack thereof, of a given role to which he connects. The Wisconsin native could turn even the most seemingly banal character into something singularly mesmerizing. This intuition to excavate the humanity out of the roles he chooses is part of what makes Dafoe so effective as an actor. Perhaps it’s also what draws skillful auteurs like Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Lars von Trier, Abel Ferrara, Sam Raimi, and Oliver Stone back to him for memorable repeat collaborations. Whether as a character actor, leading man, or disembodied voice (Vox Lux), Dafoe remains one thing above all: A universally sought-after director’s actor.

One collaboration that evaded Dafoe for nearly three decades was that with legendary Argentinian filmmaker Hector Babenco (Kiss of the Spider Woman). It wasn’t until 2015 when the two longtime acquaintances finally made a film together with Babenco’s autobiographical My Hindu Friend – also titled My Last Friend – in which Dafoe plays a stand-in for the director during a particularly grim period in his life. My Hindu Friend is a thoughtful, honest exploration of death, life, cinema, and unlikely yet timely human connections. Shortly after the 2016 Montréal World Film Festival, Babenco passed away, delaying the film’s release nearly four years.

On the cusp of My Hindu Friend’s January 17, 2020 theatrical release, I spoke with Dafoe about his experience on Babenco’s final film, his aptitude for portraying real-life figures, the existential weight of death in cinema, The Lighthouse, the politics of the Oscars, and his storied career, including his collaborations with Anderson, Scorsese, and von Trier.

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togo trailer

If Disney+ is carving out a niche of just “dog movies,” then we’re all in. Especially if one of those aforementioned dog movies stars Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe, who by all accounts shouldn’t be slumming it in a made-for-streaming inspirational drama about a musher who braves 300-plus miles of the Arctic tundra with his beloved sled dog. And yet Togo is the kind of heartwarming family film from the Disney era of old that will reduce us to tears with only the trailer. Watch the Togo trailer below.

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Werner Herzog Presents The Mandalorian

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, as The Mandalorian debuts the premiere episode on Disney+ today, take a look at what the series would be like if it were a documentary by Werner Herzog. Plus, Spider-Man and The Lighthouse star Willem Dafoe runs through the most memorable roles from his career, and Lady and the Tramp introduces us to the real dog stars of the movie. Read More »

the northman

The Witch and The Lighthouse director Robert Eggers is already gearing up for his next project. Eggers will helm The Northman, a Viking drama that will star Alexander Skarsgard, with Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Skarsgard, and Willem Dafoe all in talks to join the cast. The movie is described as a “grounded” revenge story, which means it probably won’t have the supernatural elements prevalent in Eggers’ first two films – but will still end up being disturbing, since that seems to be what Eggers gravitates towards.

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the lighthouse trailer

Facial hair! Accents! A 1.19:1 aspect ratio! A heavy dose of “What the hell am I seeing?” It’s all here in the first trailer for The Lighthouse, the latest tale of terror from Robert Eggers, director of The Witch. In this black-and-white nightmare, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe play old-timey lighthouse keepers on a remote island. Things go downhill pretty quickly. Watch the incredible, creepy and incredibly creepy The Lighthouse trailer below.

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the lighthouse first look

Robert Eggers, director of The Witch, is back with another historical horror tale – The Lighthouse. The black and white film stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as lighthouse keepers in the 1890s, and is set to premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Ahead of its debut, you can check out The Lighthouse first look below, which features Dafoe and Pattinson looking appropriately old timey and beardy.

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Old Electronics in Movies

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, take a tour of the warehouse where Hollywood gets the vintage electronics they need for movies set during different decades. Plus, find out how Spike Lee‘s adaptation of BlacKkKlansman compares to the book it’s based on, and Willem Dafoe breaks down his most famous characters from the movies. Read More »

Paul Schrader's next film

When last we spoke of Paul Schrader‘s next film, Nine Men from Now, Schrader was hoping that his First Reformed star Ethan Hawke would star alongside Willem Dafoe. Now, Schrader has an update. The film is still happening, but sadly, Hawke is out. But Schrader does have a fun new description of the film: a Western that plays out as if Terrence Malick and David Lynch came in and took a shit on the script. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

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Nine Men From Now

Paul Schrader has never gone away, but his career is encountering a sudden upswing thanks to his acclaimed 2018 film First Reformed. So what’s next for Schrader? According to the man himself, he wants to make a Western called Nine Men from Now, and he hopes Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe will star. Those details alone are enough to pique my interest.

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aquaman review

Aquaman is a movie that shouldn’t work. You’ve got Nicole Kidman eating a live goldfish in one scene, and an octopus playing the bongos in another — plus an absurd number of men sticking their heads down toilets (actually it’s just once, but it feels like a bit that goes on forever). And yet James Wan’s aquatic comic book movie is a total blast to watch.

On the heels of his scene-stealing introduction in last year’s Justice League, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman finally gets his own solo outing in an epic, sprawling adventure that is more than a match for his wild surfer bro superhero that spawned so many memes. Wan has managed to build an entire movie around Momoa’s laid-back hyper-masculine persona and uses it as a launchpad to create a staggeringly ambitious, visually overwhelming movie that crashes into you like a tidal wave.

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