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Celebrating Willem Dafoe: From Character Actor to Hollywood Icon

Willem Dafoe Platoon
Orion Pictures

Willem Dafoe is Willem Dafriend to anyone and everyone who loves film. The sensational performer has well over a hundred acting credits to his name and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. From “Platoon” to “Spider-Man” to “The Florida Project” and “The Lighthouse,” Dafoe has continuously mesmerized audiences with his chilling, authentic performances. To celebrate this incredibly talented man whom we appreciate so very much, let’s take a moment to celebrate his iconic roles and impressive career.

Willem Dafoe’s first official film role was in 1981’s “The Loveless.” He had previously worked on the western “Heaven’s Gate” in 1980, but was quickly fired from the job after laughing while on-set.

Dafoe received his first of four Academy Award nominations for Oliver Stone’s war drama “Platoon,” but ended up losing to English actor Michael Caine. Years later, Dafoe took on what would become one of his most recognizable roles: the Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man.” He later reprised his role as the supervillain in “Spider-Man 2” and “Spider-Man 3.”

Dafoe continued his path of critical acclaim and success, appearing in films of all genres and scales. His most recent roles include Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” which he starred in alongside Robert Pattinson, the Vincent Van Gogh biopic “At Eternity’s Gate,” and the critically-lauded “The Florida Project.”

Dafoe has more than half a dozen upcoming projects–because of course he does–one of which being Wes Anderson’s highly anticipatedThe French Dispatch.”

In the video below, Dafoe states: “I’m attracted to strong directors, auteur directors, directors that really need to do something (…) I’m interested in helping an artist do what they need to do.”

Dafoe has held true to his word, working with some of the best filmmakers in the industry such as Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, and Spike Lee.  Check out Vanity Fair’s video below to hear Willem Dafoe discuss his career-defining roles, then hit us up on social media telling us your favorite Dafoe performance.