Willem Dafoe wants to see my face.
During a Zoom call, the video is not working at the start of the interview. Finally, once Dafoe and I connect face-to-face, he explains, “It’s important.” And it is important. Seeing how someone reacts, what lights them up, or what disinterests them, matters during an interview. When you’re interviewing Dafoe, you’re talking to a real conversationalist, somebody who feels completely present. You want to see that, not just hear it.
The interview is for the actor’s sixth collaboration with Abel Ferrara, Siberia. It’s a dream, or nightmare, of a film. It’s tricky to put into words or boxes. It’s a dream narrative you’re reacting to, not consciously analyzing. In other words, another project well-suited to Dafoe’s approach to performing, which as he told us, isn’t about calculation, but intuition.
Truly, acting is reacting for Dafoe.
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Walter Hill, the legendary filmmaker behind 48 Hrs., Streets of Fire, The Warriors, and so much more, is getting back behind the camera for the Western Dead for a Dollar. It’s Hill’s first feature since 2016’s questionable The Assignment, and will have the director working with Christoph Waltz and Willem Dafoe in a tale of a bounty hunter operating out of the New Mexico Territory in 1897.
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Poor Things, the latest from The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos, has added Mark Ruffalo to its cast. Ruffalo joins Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe in the movie, which is based on the novel by Alasdair Gray and described as a re-imagining of Frankenstein. In Poor Things, the Frankenstein Monster-inspired character has been replaced with “Bella Baxter – a beautiful young erotomaniac brought back to life with the brain of an infant.”
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For Luis Antonio, the creator of Annapurna Interactive’s intriguing new thriller Twelve Minutes, the idea for a game with a built-in time loop narrative began with a basic question. “Most games already have an aspect of repetition: you keep dying and repeating a level. But what if the character was actually aware of this? What would be the repercussions?”
Twelve Minutes is a top down point-and-click experience about a man (voiced by James McAvoy) who comes home to have a romantic evening with his wife (voiced by Daisy Ridley), only for a police detective (voiced by Willem Dafoe) to suddenly burst through the front door, accuse the wife of murder, and beat the man to death. But death is not final: instead, the man ends up right back at his own front door at the start of the evening, with only a few minutes to figure out a way to prevent this horrible situation from unfolding the same way over and over again.
I had a chance to play a preview build demo of the game and chat with Antonio about the project’s origins, evolutions, and his hopes that its inherent accessibility (all you need is a mouse) might convince non-gamers to give it a shot.
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As independent video games continue to push the creative envelope, they’ll continue to attract top-tier Hollywood talent to participate. Case in point: Twelve Minutes, an upcoming interactive time loop thriller that features voice work from Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class), and Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse). Check out the game’s trailer and learn more about it below. Read More »
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 closer look at the script Aaron Sorkin wrote for The Social Network to see how he uses certain literary devices to give dialogue rhythms and melodies. Plus, watch a wonderful conversation with Ben Stiller‘s late parents, the amazing Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, about their early career in show biz. And finally, listen to actors like Harrison Ford, Jeff Goldblum, Terry Crews, Kristen Bell, and more recalling their first IMDb credit. Read More »
Paul Schrader‘s First Reformed follow-up The Card Counter has some new cast members. We already knew that Oscar Isaac was set to lead the film, and now Schrader himself has confirmed that Willem Dafoe, Tye Sheridan, and Tiffany Haddish will appear as well. This is not your average cast, and that’s pretty exciting. The Card Counter follows “a gambler and former serviceman who sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past.”
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The 2020 Sundance Film Festival kicks off today, and one of our most anticipated movies playing up in the mountains of Park City, Utah is the latest directorial effort from Mudbound and Pariah director Dee Rees.
The Last Thing He Wanted, based on Joan Dideon’s novel of the same name, finds Anne Hathaway as journalist Elena McMahon, who ends up caught in the middle of the Iran-Contra scandal. The affair saw weapons being sold to the Khomeini government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to fund Contras, various U.S.-backed and funded right-wing rebel groups in Nicaragua, and Elena’s father (Willem Dafoe) just so happens to have dropped some unfinished arms deals in her lap.
Watch The Last Thing He Wanted trailer that was just released by Netflix to get a taste of this thrilling drama. Read More »
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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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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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