William J. « Willem » Dafoe (born July 22, 1955) is an American actor. A member of the experimental theater company The Wooster Group, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Platoon (1986) and Shadow of the Vampire (2000). His other film appearances include The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The English Patient (1996) and The Spider-Man trilogy (2002–07). He has also had voice-roles in Finding Nemo (2003) and Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), as well as two episodes of The Simpsons.
Dafoe began his film career in 1981, when he was cast in Heaven’s Gate only to see his role removed from the film during editing. In the mid-1980s, he was cast by William Friedkin to star in To Live and Die In L.A., in which Dafoe portrays counterfeiter Rick Masters. A year later he starred as the leader of a motorcycle gang in The Loveless, having played a similar role in Streets of Fire. He became « very conscious » that he might be typecast as a villain.
Dafoe would go on to gain his widest exposure up to that point playing the compassionate Sergeant Elias in Oliver Stone’s Platoon. He enjoyed the opportunity to play a heroic role, and said the film gave him a chance to display his versatility.
He has chosen projects for diversity of roles and opportunities to work with strong directors. He has worked in the films of Wes Anderson (La vie aquatique (2004), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)), Martin Scorsese (Aviator (2004), La dernière tentation du Christ (1988)), Spike Lee (Inside Man – L’homme de l’intérieur (2006)), Julian Schnabel (Miral (2010), Basquiat (1996)), Paul Schrader (Auto Focus (2002), Affliction (1997), Light Sleeper (1992), The Walker (2007), Adam Resurrected (2008)), David Cronenberg (_Existenz_), Abel Ferrara (4h44 Dernier jour sur terre (2011), Go Go Tales (2007), New Rose Hotel (1998)), David Lynch (Sailor & Lula (1990)), William Friedkin (Police fédérale, Los Angeles (1985)), Werner Herzog (Dans l’oeil d’un tueur (2009)), Oliver Stone (Né un quatre juillet (1989), Platoon (1986)), Giada Colagrande (A Woman (2010) and Black Widow (2005)) and Lars von Trier (Antichrist (2009) and Manderlay (2005)).
He was nominated twice for the Academy Award (Platoon (1986) and L’ombre du vampire (2000)) and once for the Golden Globe. Among other nominations and awards, he received an LA Film Critics Award and an Independent Spirit Award. Upcoming films include Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest hotel (2014), Anton Corbjin’s Un homme très recherché (2014), Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac – Volume 1 (2013).