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Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe

About Willem Dafoe Biography

Early life
Dafoe, the sixth of eight children, was born William J. Dafoe in Appleton, Wisconsin, the son of Muriel Isabel (née Sprissler), a nurse and Boston native, and Dr. William Alfred Dafoe, a surgeon. His paternal grandfather was from Belleville, Ontario. His birth name is William Dafoe; he changed it to "Willem" (Dutch for "William") so people would not call him "Billy". After being expelled from Appleton East High School for making a video that school administrators deemed "pornographic", he finished his studies at nearby Lawrence University. He then studied drama at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but left before graduation in order to join the newly formed avant-garde group Theatre X.


After touring with Theatre X for four years in the United States and Europe, he moved to New York City and joined the Performance Group. Dafoe's film career began in 1981, when he was cast in Heaven's Gate, but his role was removed from the film during editing. In the mid 80's he was cast by William Friedkin to star in To Live And Die In LA, in which Dafoe portrays counterfeiter Rick Masters. A year later he starred as the leader of a motorcycle gang in The Loveless (and later played a similar role in Streets of Fire), but his first breakthrough film role was as the compassionate Sergeant Elias in Platoon (1986). In 1988 Dafoe starred in another movie set during the Vietnam War, this time as CID Agent Buck McGriff in Off Limits. He has since become a popular character actor. He is often cast as unstable or villainous characters, such as the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man film series and Barillo in Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Before that, he was briefly considered for the role of The Joker by Tim Burton and Sam Hamm for 1989's Batman. Hamm recalls "We thought, 'Well, Willem Dafoe looks just like The Joker.'" The role ended up going to Jack Nicholson. He also played Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). He once remarked "To this day, I can't believe I was so brazen to think I could pull off the Jesus role", though Dafoe received acclaim despite the controversy surrounding the film.

He starred in the erotic drama Body of Evidence with Madonna. In this film, he appeared nude, as well as giving
Madonna cunnilingus in a scene set in a carpark. In 1991, Willem Dafoe portrayed a Manhattan drug dealer in the film Light Sleeper. This film received very good reviews by both critics and fans. Dafoe played an eccentric FBI agent in The Boondock Saints (1999) and in American Psycho (2000). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting actor in 1986 for Platoon and 2000 for Shadow of the Vampire. He played a rare heroic film role when he provided the voice of Gill in the animated movie Finding Nemo. He worked briefly as a model in a 1990 Prada campaign. In 2004, Dafoe lent his likeness and voice for the James Bond video game Everything or Nothing as villain Nikolai Diavolo. In 2006, he played NYPD detective Stan Aubray on the hunt for a serial killer, the lead in New York-set thriller Anamorph, opposite Scott Speedman and Peter Stormare. In his most recent film he stars alongside Rowan Atkinson in the sequel to 1997's Bean, Mr. Bean's Holiday which was released worldwide March 30, 2007. After much speculation it was confirmed by Troy Duffy that Dafoe will not be returning for the sequel to The Boondock Saints as Agent Smecker.

Personal life

Dafoe met director Elizabeth LeCompte at the Performance Group. LeCompte and Dafoe were part of the restructuring of The Performance Group and became professional collaborators and founding members of The Wooster Group, and began a relationship. Their son, Jack, was born in 1982. The pair would eventually split in 2004. Dafoe married Italian director and actress Giada Colagrande on March 25, 2005.

He is part-owner of a restaurant with friend and fellow actor John C. McGinley.

Dafoe's brother, Donald, is a transplant surgeon and researcher.

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  • KatB
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Celebrity Gossips

  • Adam Resurrected - Movie Re...  |  Jan 05, 2009 21:16:30  |  By KatB
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    Willem Dafoe went from nobody to Oscar-nominated somebody thanks to his part in Oliver Stone’s war epic -- one that was originally offered to Rourk...  View Full Article

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