Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe
Real name:
William James Dafoe
Who is:
Birth date:
(68 y.o.)
Place of birth:
Appleton, Wisconsin, U.S.
5'9 ft ()
172 lb (78 kg)
Birth Sign:
Chinese zodiac:

Biography of Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe is an American stage and film actor who has been nominated twice for an Oscar in the category of "Best Supporting Actor" (for the movies "Platoon" and "Shadow of the Vampire") and twice for an Oscar in the category of "Best Actor". Among his other notable films are: "To Live and Die in L.A.", "The Last Temptation of Christ", "The English Patient", "American Psycho", and "Spider-Man" from 2002.
Actor Willem Dafoe
Actor Willem Dafoe

Childhood and Youth

Willem (became the seventh, penultimate child in a large family of doctor William Alfred Dafoe and nurse Muriel Isabel. He hated being called Billy (a shortened version of his name), so at the first opportunity, he changed his name to Willem.

The boy was nothing like his two brothers and five sisters and was the only one who dedicated his life to creativity (the rest linked their lives with law and medicine). As a child, he constantly joked, made faces and amused those around him, which often helped him in difficult situations.
Willem Dafoe in his youth
Willem Dafoe in his youth
After finishing school, the young man entered the University of Milwaukee's drama department, but after a year and a half, he dropped out and started touring with the youth experimental theatre Theatre X, essentially becoming a wandering artist. Four years later, Willem decided to settle in New York and got a job at the Performance Group theater.
Willem Dafoe highlights from a 1975 Theatre X production
At the same time, Dafoe started trying to break into cinema. His first attempt was unsuccessful: during editing, his role was simply cut out at the director's whim. But this did not stop the ambitious youth, and two years later, he made a name for himself in the film "Heaven's Gate" (1980). This was followed by roles in "Streets of Fire", "The Loveless", "To Live and Die in L.A.", and "The Hunger".

Acting Career

The actor gained real popularity for his role in Oliver Stone's "Platoon", for which he was first nominated for an Oscar. The death scene of his character, Sergeant Elias Grodin, became iconic and one of the most tragic in contemporary cinema.
Willem Dafoe as the Joker
Willem Dafoe as the Joker
In 1988, Martin Scorsese invited Dafoe to play Jesus in "The Last Temptation of Christ," which stirred mixed reactions in religious circles.
The Last Temptation of Christ - Tempted by Satan Scene
Over the next ten years, the actor's professional portfolio was enriched with a series of vivid characters. Dafoe's unique appearance allowed him to convincingly transform into outright villains, scoundrels, and killers. He worked with the best Hollywood directors (David Cronenberg, Steve Buscemi, Troy Duffy, Paul Schrader, and others) and repeatedly became the recipient of prestigious film awards.
Willem Dafoe in the movie Spider-Man
Willem Dafoe in the movie Spider-Man
In 2002, the blockbuster "Spider-Man" was released, instantly becoming a worldwide cinematic event. Dafoe was so eager to play the Green Goblin, the main antagonist, that he recorded his own screen test and sent it to the director without waiting for an invitation. Sam Raimi appreciated the actor's talent and cast him in all three parts of the cult film.
Norman Osborn Mirror Scene - Spider-Man (2002)
In 2017, the actor appeared in the new adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" and was listed among the top three actors by Vulture for his role in "The Florida Project,
Willem Dafoe Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters
2018 brought Dafoe a series of premieres, including "Aquaman" with Amber Heard, Jason Momoa and Nicole Kidman, and "At Eternity's Gate," where Dafoe played the role of the great artist. For the latter performance, Dafoe was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor.

In 2019, Dafoe appeared in Edward Norton's "Motherless Brooklyn," acting alongside Norton and Alec Baldwin. The same year saw the premiere of the film "Siberia," in which Dafoe had the leading role.
Siberia (2020) - Willem Dafoe Dancing Scene
Another cult film featuring Dafoe was "The Lighthouse" (2019), where he also played a leading role alongside Robert Pattinson. Under the direction of Robert Eggers, the cast embodied one of the most unusual horror films of the last decade.
Robert Pattinson & Willem Dafoe talk The Lighthouse
In 2020, Dafoe appeared in the film "The Last Thing He Wanted" with Anne Hathaway. At the same time, he was working on "Zack Snyder's Justice League," "Nightmare Alley" with Cate Blanchett, and Wes Anderson's "The French Dispatch." He also reprised his role as the Green Goblin in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" (2021).
The Green Goblin Returns - Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Personal Life of Willem Dafoe

The first wife of Willem was director Elizabeth LeCompte, whom he met at the Performance Group theater.
Willem Dafoe and Elizabeth LeCompte
Willem Dafoe and Elizabeth LeCompte
They lived together for twenty-seven years, raising their son Jack (born in 1982). The actor repeatedly proposed to his beloved, but she valued her freedom too much. Eventually, they separated, but maintained a warm relationship.
Willem Dafoe and his son Jack
Willem Dafoe and his son Jack
In 2004 in Rome, Willem met actress and director Giada Colagrande. The fiery Italian impressed Dafoe so much that he instantly fell for her. Now, the couple lives between New York and Rome, traveling a lot, practicing yoga, working together on projects, and feeling absolutely happy.
Willem Dafoe and Giada Colagrande
Willem Dafoe and Giada Colagrande

Willem Dafoe Now

As of today, Dafoe's filmography includes over a hundred successful works, but the actor shows no signs of stopping. In 2023, he appeared in six feature-length projects. First and foremost, it's worth mentioning the thriller "Inside", in which Dafoe, playing a robber Nemo trapped in a "smart" penthouse without food or water, kept the audience tense until the final frames.
Willem Dafoe in the movie “Inside”
Willem Dafoe in the movie “Inside”
Additionally, Willem played one of the leading roles in the independent film by Yorgos Lanthimos, "Poor Things" alongside Emma Stone, Saverio Costanzo's drama "Long-Awaited Dawn", Wes Anderson's "Asteroid City," and Patricia Arquette's film "Gonzo Girl". However, Dafoe wasn't in the blockbuster "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom", despite playing the mentor of the main protagonist, Nuidis Vulko, in the first part. The movie's director, James Wan, explained this was due to the actor's busy schedule.
Willem Dafoe on Poor Things Oscar buzz, iconic Spider-Man role
In early 2024, Willem Dafoe received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also continued working on the films "Beetlejuice 2", "Nosferatu", and "Tropico".
Willem Dafoe and his star on the Walk of Fame
Willem Dafoe and his star on the Walk of Fame

  • Defoe is something, although it looks like a skeleton, it`s still a VERY interesting type :) I respect this actor
    2021-05-18 14:07:18
  • He looked stupid in Aquaman, and it was as if they were made young, although it is clear that the man is an adult
    2021-04-28 09:49:20
  • His appearance is very memorable and characteristic. Cool actor
    2021-04-12 20:11:19
  • Defoe usually plays «bad» roles, but his pure appearance is appropriate :)
    2021-04-04 19:00:16
  • One of my favorite actors. Moreover, his choice of roles is not quite standard. All roles are not easy.
    2021-02-21 20:07:20