On this day, 65 years ago, acting juggernaut Willem Dafoe was born. The sensational performer has over one hundred acting credits under his belt and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. From “Spider-Man” to “The Lighthouse,” Dafoe has continuously mesmerized audiences with his chilling, authentic performances. To celebrate Dafoe’s birthday, let’s take a look at his iconic roles and impressive career.
Willem Dafoe’s first official film role was in 1981’s “The Loveless.” He had previously worked on western “Heaven’s Gate” in 1980 but was quickly fired from the job after laughing while on-set. Dafoe received his first Academy Award nomination 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, Vincent Van Gogh biopic “At Eternity’s Gate,” and critically lauded “The Florida Project.” Dafoe has a number of upcoming projects, one of which is Wes Anderson’s highly anticipated “The 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 biz, like Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, and Spike Lee. Check out Vanity Fair’s video to hear Willem Dafoe discuss his career-defining roles, and then leave a comment telling us your favorite Dafoe performance!