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Willem Dafoe on giving everything to his profession • Magazine • Letter Books Magazine • Letter Books

Earlier, my colleague Flynn Slicker gave you an award for being the most viewed actor on Letterboxd in 2022, the second year in a row that you’ve held that title. While a lot of that comes from your recent movies, or the enduring popularity of Spider Man And Wes Anderson, if someone is a Willem Dafoe fanatic and is looking for a deeper cut, is there a movie of your own that might have gone a little under the radar on release that you recommended they look for?
amazing. Some people tell me I’ve made 140 films. I would say there are about 70 movies that I can recommend, if only because there are a lot of movies that don’t get a lot of release and that’s just the nature of things and the nature of small filmmaking sometimes. I don’t know, it always blows my mind and it depends country by country also what they watch. So it’s a little difficult and I hate to recommend a movie in such a weird way.

I always remember—and I wouldn’t use names, though it would be more interesting if I did, but that person is deceased, so I don’t want to say that—but there was an actor I didn’t particularly care for. I saw him in an interview and there was only one movie he’d done that I really reacted to, and I thought it was really cool. In that interview, he dismissed this movie and it blew my mind because it was kind of ruined for me. [Laughs]

So I think it is not a good idea for an actor to put up or quit his films. Let the people decide. Yes, it makes sense if a movie didn’t get its day in court, you’d want to bring it up. But, for example, recently there have been films that are not for everyone. Some of the movies I made with Abel Ferrara, for example: are not for everyone, but they are almost unknown in the US while they are very popular elsewhere in the world. So that’s always something of a curiosity.

Or a movie I directed with Hector Babenko, his last film, is almost unknown here. You can’t help but think “what’s up with that?” But I can’t give you a complete list.

Before we wrap up, I’m going to ask you a question to ask your character in insideIs not a human being an island, or is every human being an island?
Oh, my God. As you know, you can’t have one without the other. It depends, yes. Both are correct. Why can’t both be true?


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