Actor, USA


“I set myself challenges every time I work. I approach everything as though it's the first time. With a beginner's mind and an amateur's love."


Willem Dafoe was born in 1955 in Appleton (Wisconsin) into a family of seven brothers and sisters. Having studied at university, he moved to New York with the firm determination to become an actor in theatre, his great passion. He was one of the original members of The Wooster Group, the New York based experimental theatre collective and one of the most groundbreaking and prestigious in the city, where he has created and performed in all the group’s works from 1977 to 2004, both in the U.S. and abroad.

He caught the attention of cinema and landed a small – uncredited! – part in Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, leading the way to his appearance in other movies : Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire, or William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A., until getting his big break in Oliver Stone’s Platoon. He was later exalted for his personal embodiment of Jesus Christ in Martin Scorsese’s controversial movie The Last Temptation of Christ.

Willem Dafoe is a two time Academy Award nominated actor and has appeared in over 100 films. He doesn’t balk at combining starring parts with smaller comedies. Or at alternating movie genres. Thanks to his extraordinary ductility as an actor, he became the green-shaded baddie in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, the screen vampire in Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire, Caravaggio the accuser in Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient, or the hateful guard in John Waters’ Cry-Baby. He has made a movie name for himself in works like Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning, Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, Paul Auster’s Lulu on the Bridge, Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat; David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ, Mary Harron’s American Psycho, Mark Peploe’s Victory and Lars von Trier’s Manderlay… among others.

Recent films include Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini, Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac as well as the upcoming Hector Babenco’s My Hindu Friend and Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall.

He also appeared internationally on stage in Bob Wilson’s Life and Death of Marina Abramovic and alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov in Bob Wilson’s The Old Woman.


Selected Filmography

1980      HEAVEN’S GATE (La Porte du paradis) Michael Cimino

1981      The Loveless Kathryn Bigelow & Monty Montgomery

1983      THE HUNGER (Les Prédateurs) Tony Scott

1984      STREETS OF FIRE (Les Rues de feu) Walter Hill

New York Nights Simon Nuchtern

1985      TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. (Police fédérale, Los Angeles) William Friedkin

Roadhouse 66 John Mark Robinson

1986      Platoon Oliver Stone

1988      The Last Temptation of Christ (La Dernière Tentation du Christ) Martin Scorsese

Mississippi Burning Alan Parker

OFF LIMITS (Saïgon, l'enfer pour deux flics) Christopher Crowe

1989      Born on the Fourth of July (Né un 4 juillet) Oliver Stone

Triumph of the Spirit Robert M. Young

1990      Cry-Baby John Waters

WILD AT HEART (Sailor & Lula) David Lynch

1991      FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER (Le Vol de l'Intruder) John Milius

1992      Light Sleeper Paul Schrader

WHITE SANDS (Sables mortels) Roger Donaldson

1993      BODY OF EVIDENCE (Body) Uli Edel

FARAWAY, SO CLOSE! (Si loin, si proche! – In weiter Ferne, so nah!) Wim Wenders

1994      Clear and Present Danger (Danger immédiat) Phillip Noyce

THE NIGHT AND THE MOMENT (La Nuit et le Moment) Anna Maria Tatò

Tom & Viv Brian Gilbert

1996      Basquiat Julian Schnabel

THE ENGLISH PATIENT (Le Patient anglais) Anthony Minghella

Victory Mark Peploe

1997      Affliction Paul Schrader

Speed 2: Cruise Control (Speed 2: Cap sur le danger) Jan de Bont

1998      Lulu on the Bridge Paul Auster

New Rose Hotel Abel Ferrara **

1999      EXISTENZ David Cronenberg

The Boondock Saints (Les Anges de Boston) Troy Duffy

2000      American Psycho Mary Harron

Animal Factory Steve Buscemi

Bullfighter Rune Bendixen

2000      SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (L'Ombre du vampire) E. Elias Merhige

2001      Edges of the Lord Yurek Bogayevicz

Pavilion of Women (Pavillon de femmes) Ho Yim

2002      Auto Focus Paul Schrader

Spider-Man Sam Raimi

The Reckoning Paul McGuigan

2003      ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (Desperado 2 – Il était une fois au Mexique) Robert Rodriguez

2004      THE AVIATOR Martin Scorsese

Control Tim Hunter

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (La Vie aquatique) Wes Anderson

THE CLEARING (L'Enlèvement) Pieter Jan Brugge

Spider-Man 2 Sam Raimi

2005      Before It Had a Name (Black Widow) Giada Colagrande *

MANDERLAY Lars von Trier

RIPLEY UNDER GROUND (Mr. Ripley et les ombres) Roger Spottiswoode

xXx 2: THE NEXT LEVEL Lee Tamahori

2006      American Dreamz Paul Weitz

Inside Man (L'Homme de l'intérieur) Spike Lee

PARIS, I LOVE YOU (Paris, je t'aime) – segment PLACE DES VICTOIRES Nobuhiro Suwa

2007      Anamorph Henry Miller

Go Go Tales Abel Ferrara

  1. BEAN’S HOLIDAY (Les Vacances de Mr Bean) Steve Bendelack

Spider-Man 3 Sam Raimi

The Walker Paul Schrader

2008      Adam Resurrected Paul Schrader

Fireflies in the Garden Dennis Lee

THE DUST OF TIME (La Poussière du temps – Trilogia II: I skoni tou hronou) Theo Angelopoulos

2009      Antichrist Lars von Trier

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Dans l'œil d'un tueur) Werner Herzog

DAYBREAKERS Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig

FAREWELL (L'Affaire Farewell) Christian Carion

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (L'Assistant du vampire) Paul Weitz

2010      A Woman Giada Colagrande

Miral Julian Schnabel

2011      4:44 Last Day on Earth (4h44 Dernier Jour sur terre) Abel Ferrara

The Hunter Daniel Nettheim

2012      John Carter Andrew Stanton

TOMORROW YOU’RE GONE (La Mort en sursis) David Jacobson

2013      Out of the Furnace (Les Brasiers de la colère) Scott Cooper

Nymphomaniac: VOL II Lars von Trier

ODD THOMAS (Odd Thomas contre les créatures de l'ombre) Stephen Sommers

2014      Bad Country Chris Brinker

John Wick Chad Stahelski

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (Nos étoiles contraires) Josh Boone

Pasolini Abel Ferrara

The Grand Budapest hotel Wes Anderson

A MOST WANTED MAN (Un homme très recherché) Anton Corbijn

2015      My Hindu Friend Hector Babenco

The Great Wall Zhang Yimou

What Happened to Monday? Tommy Wirkola

* also screenwriter

** also producer