Willem Dafoe is hoping for a late-surge Oscar campaign, and why not?


Willem Dafoe has been nominated for all of the big awards this year for The Florida Project. He plays the manager of a motel in Orlando, close to Disneyworld. It’s a small-budget film which got rave reviews for the naturalistic performances of the child actors, and it’s being called one of Dafoe’s best and “nicest” roles. As in, he usually plays freaks and psychos, so it’s nice to see him playing a really nice guy for once.

In any case, Willem has barely done much in the way of Oscar campaigning for this film. To be fair, few actors were campaigning for Best Supporting Actor this year – Armie Hammer tried to campaign and his big mouth talked its way out of an Oscar nomination. So the consensus nominee is probably Sam Rockwell from Three Billboards, which… I mean, I like Sam Rockwell a lot as an actor and I’m happy for him that he’s winning awards, but I just wish it wasn’t for this role. So maybe Willem thinks there’s room for him to campaign too, and maybe he’ll become the sentimental favorite. Which is why Dafoe covers the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, in what is an enormously pleasant and uncontroversial interview. Some highlights:

He loves doing laundry: “It’s one of my great pleasures,” he says, dead serious. “I love it so much, I have to resist the urge to do a lot of hand washing when I’m in hotels. Sometimes, when I’m in a strange city, I go to laundromats. I did that in France recently — I was shooting a movie there — and it was a beautiful experience. For some reason, people are really nice to me in laundromats and I have these great encounters. Talk about fun and sexy …”

He never thought he would be an actor: “But I never thought acting could be a profession,. I didn’t know anybody that made their living in the entertainment industry. It was just something I liked to do, something I had fun with, a social thing. I thought maybe I’d end up joining the Merchant Marines or the Army.”

On changing his name: …That’s around the time he gave his name a Dutch makeover, dropping the “ia” and adding an “e” (although “William” is still on his driver’s license and passport). “It’s not like I was looking around for a stage name,” he says, “But I knew that I didn’t want to be a William or a Bill or a Billy.”

On how he was considered to play the Joker: He was even talked about for the Joker in 1989’s Batman, until Jack Nicholson snagged the role. “[Screenwriter Sam] Hamm said something about how physi­cally I would be perfect for the part,” Dafoe recalls, “but they never offered it to me.”

On turning down roles: “Oh, I turn down things. I won’t say which ones, because that’s not nice to the people I’ve turned down.”

On working with kids: For Dafoe, working with children was a bit like experimental theater. “Since the movie is from the kids’ point of view, you have to invite the chaos,” he says. “The biggest challenge was to stay calm and be patient. I was ready to grab the wheel if we were going to crash, but [I] had to let the kids drive [the movie].”

On constantly moving: “I live a nomadic life. Last year it was five months in Australia, two months in England, three months in France …”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

I really, really hope this won’t be one of those cases where I say “so-and-so is such a great person, I love him so much” and then tomorrow ten women will come out and say he’s a serial predator. Please, I hope that doesn’t happen. Because I do love him and I always have. He’s 62 years old and he’s been a brilliant leading man and character actor for more than 30 years. Why aren’t people talking about his Oscar chances? Like, if you want to give someone an award for de facto “lifetime achievement,” here you go. Better Dafoe than Sam Rockwell, just my opinion.

Photographed by Martha Galvan_SHOT_06_0156v2

Photos courtesy of Martha Galvan for The Hollywood Reporter.

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18 Responses to “Willem Dafoe is hoping for a late-surge Oscar campaign, and why not?”

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  1. Tiffany says:

    Dafoe won the NYFCC for best supporting actor and that was when he was starting to pick up steam and then, 3 Billboards came out and everyone was tripping over themselves to shower this film with accolades.

    It really boils down to crappy timing because Dafoe was the front runner after that win.

  2. Spark says:

    Damn, he ages well.
    I’ll do laundry with him any day.

  3. Saras says:

    He seems so cool and funny. Love to have him at dinner of dreams table. He should be honored more as he is so talented.

  4. Lightpurple says:

    Best Supporting Actor does tend to be the Lifetime Achievement Award of the four acting categories so he does stand a chance. Rockwell is the only one of the five who was never nominated before, any one of them, DaFoe, Plummer, Harrelson, Jenkins, could pull away with it as a sentimental favorite.

    I hope to watch Florida Project this weekend. I’ve always liked Dafoe. And he can come do my laundry.

  5. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I hope nothing ever comes out about him either as I’ve always loved him. But damn, did anyone see that obscure film he did called Antichrist? Omg. Omg. Omg. My husband and I, who LOVE horror, psych thrillers, et al, seriously cringed during this movie. I mean… YIKES.

  6. Spicecake38 says:

    Thank you for writing this Kaiser.Watched the Florida Project two days ago and it’s one of those fantastic,gripping,gritty,real movies.The children were superb in their roles especially the sweetie who plays Moonee!Dafoe SHOULD win for this IMO,only complaint is that he was so great in the movie that I wish there was more of him in it.He had a noticeable calm and rough around the edges kindness with the kids in the movie,makes me think even higher of him than I already did.That movie 💔

  7. Alexis says:

    Wow ummm all of the sudden I find Willem Dafoe damn attractive. He definitely ages well.

    • smcollins says:

      I fully agree! I used to find him kind of creepy hot (a la Michael Shannon) when he was younger but he seems to be getting more “traditionally” handsome with age. He’s definitely one of my all-time favorite actors.

      • SM says:

        Second that! He gets better looking with age. Also just recently I watched him on Stephen Colbert show and damn, was I suprised. He is such a soft spoken and warm person in cought me by surprise because he plays parts of psychos and freaks. I hope too, there are no stories about him and sexual harrasment. He said on Colbert he was fine with Seth’s joke at Golden Globes about him because it is as far from the truth as humanly possible. Damn, I really hope so.

  8. Insomniac says:

    I would LOVE to see him as the Joker. He’d be fabulous.

  9. Kg says:

    He and Sam Rockwell have the same PR team. So who knows.

  10. jferber says:

    Willem looks amazing. His bone structure is to die for. I thought he did a phenomenal acting job in Auto Focus with Greg Kinnear. I haven’t seen any of his more recent movies.

    • Spicecake38 says:

      It’s been out for so long now,but still one of my favorite movies is The English Patient,watch him in this whenever you’re bored if you’ve never seen it he is exceptional as a supporting actor in it,and I think he won a SAG award for his performance?? Not sure tho

      • Mira Belle says:

        Yesss this. The English Patient was such a good movie with great performances. He was a highlight in it.

  11. Andrea says:

    I hope he wins! Fuck 3BB and Sam Rockwell plays the same annoying douche in every role.

  12. Amandahugandkiss says:

    Can I ramp up the hotness factor by adding he’s been practicing yoga for decades?

  13. The Recluse says:

    I kind of hope he wins, although Michael Shannon would be awesome. Perhaps there’ll be a split vote and Dafoe wins?