As some of you may or may not know, I am a member of The Lamb via this blog here. To promote activity among this network of movie blogs, The Lamb often hosts events/memes/blogathons for fellow Lamb members to participate in. One such event is the Lamb Acting School which is ran by CS of Big Thoughts From a Small Mind. The Lamb Acting School is all about highlighting an actor/actress that has made an impact on the world of cinema.
This month highlights Willem Dafoe. He is one of the more respected and underrated actors working today. Having worked on over 75 films, Dafoe has taken on a variety of roles, though he’s often considered as one who plays eccentric characters. Over the course of his career, he has indeed come to play many interesting characters and give life to said characters that entertain us all. So, today I plan on listing my favorite characters played by one of the finest character actors today: Willem Dafoe.
5. Sgt. Elias Grodin – Platoon
This was Willem Dafoe’s breakout role. He says this is the one that really allowed him to show off his versatility. Indeed, it got him noticed as he received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in this Oliver Stone film. While Dafoe has proven he can absolutely play the role of the villain, the part of Sgt Elias proved he could play the part of the good guy as well as he can the bad guy. This is easily one of the most important performances of his career, kick-starting a career that would rise to greatness.
4. Agent Alan Ward – Mississippi Burning
Another good guy role for the great Willem Dafoe. This time he takes up the role of an FBI agent sent to Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights activists. His performance as the by-the-book (and slightly naive) agent out to save the world is spot on and manages to stand toe-to-toe with Hackman’s subtle Oscar-worthy performance. The movie itself, though inaccurate, is definitely worth a watch and makes for a very good thriller.
3. Klaus Daimler – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Here we get to see Dafoe at arguably his funniest. He pulls off a rather quirky role here that almost borders on a man-child due to his admiration and infatuation with Bill Murrary’s Steve Zissou. Dafoe plays Klaus, the right-hand man to Zissou here. And quite honestly, he’s just about the only redeeming quality to this entire movie. Definitely my favorite part to the movie. Whether it’s having spats with Owen Wilson or letting his infatuation with Steve shine through as he whines about being on the “B Squad”, Dafoe definitely provides an interesting character here that provides plenty of laughs. Of course, even he couldn’t save the movie as the film itself isn’t all that good.
2. Norman Osborn/Green Goblin – Spider-Man
Green Goblin. Norman Osborn. Willem Dafoe shows just how great he is at playing the maniacal villain, too. And he does so wonderfully here. This is probably Dafoe’s most iconic role for mainstream movie-goers. He captures the Jekyll/Hyde complexity and duality of the Osborn/Green Goblin role here so brilliantly. No better is this illustrated than when you watch him arguing with himself as the Goblin threatens to take over Osborn forever sending him down the path of darkness. There’s no arguing, Dafoe’s performance as this dual character was definitely one of the shining lights of this movie.
1. Agent Paul Smecker – The Boondock Saints
And that brings us to number one. This is undoubtedly my favorite role of Dafoe’s. No other can even compare. While this might not be his technically finest performance (though it’s definitely up there), it’s definitely my favorite. Here Dafoe plays Paul Smecker, a detective that sets out to stop a couple of vigilante killers only to begin to sympathize with their plight. Adding an extra little bit of goodness to this is the fact that the detective is gay. This adds a new layer to the role that Dafoe uses to really shine and what a brilliant performance this is. The movie itself is absolutely a fun ride, and Dafoe just makes it that much more of a memorable trip, adding laughs and an intelligence and undeniable charm to the movie. He undoubtedly steals every scene he’s in. Furthermore, provides great entertainment every time he appears on screen as well.
So there you have it: my favorite Dafoe characters. Willem Dafoe shows he definitely loves his job and respects his art through his various roles. Whether large or small roles, he works wonders with any part he gets and is always a treat to see on-screen.
So, what do you think? Feel this list missed out some of your favorites? What is your favorite performance from Willem Dafoe? Let me know in the comments below.
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