Willem Dafoe on Acting: “I don’t interpret, I do”

Willem Dafoe remains one of those actors who is as versatile as he is prolific — he regularly appears in about 3 movies per year, ranging from expensive studio projects like Spider-Man and John Carter to independent films like this year’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth and The Hunter.  In a conversation with The Guardian, he explains his approach to acting, including reflecting on his background in theater, and laughs about some of his less successful roles.

Dafoe dismisses the idea that an actor “interprets” roles.  He explains, “I don’t interpret, I do.  Sometimes I say I feel more like a dancer than an actor, because there are things implied about being an actor that I don’t really like. I feel more comfortable with the word ‘performer’. I like being the thing. I like being the doer. There’s a factualness to it. And then certain resonances happen out of how you apply yourself physically.”  In the case of the stage, Dafoe adds, “It’s amazingly physical.  With theatre, you have to be ready for anything.”

Since he’s so prolific, Dafoe has appeared in some bad films.  As for these less than stellar films, Dafoe sees them as all part of the process.  He jokes, “If you mix it up, you’re going to fail a lot! But I say it’s worth it. I think on some level, you do your best things when you’re a little off-balance, a little scared. You’ve got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing. I like coming in the back door somehow. I like things that creep up on you. I like performances that you don’t see, you feel.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/bill-hader.jpg
Bill Hader: “I kind of fell into acting” (video)
Bill Hader, starring in the soon to be released The Skeleton Twins, talks about the film and how he fell into acting and then got “crazy lucky” in this quick video from USA Today. Share on Tumblr
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/director-john-carney-narrates-a.jpg
Director John Carney Narrates a Scene from ‘Begin Again’ Starring Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo
Director John Carney (Once) narrates a scene from his new film, Begin Again. Starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, the scene shows the first time the two characters meet. I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard it’s great.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/holler-if-you-hear-me-gma.jpg
Watch the Cast of Broadway’s ‘Holler If You Hear Me’ Perform ‘California Love’ on GMA
The cast of Broadway’s newest musical, Holler If You Hear Me with music from Tupac Shakur, performed on Good Morning America this morning. Singing ‘California Love’, the cast (including the teriffic Christopher Jackson – read our interview here), show why they’re the most energetic and inspiring group of actors on Broadway. Holler If Ya Hear [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/behind-the-scenes-of-dawn-of-the.jpg
Behind the Scenes of ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ with Performance Capture Actor Terry Notary
Actor Terry Notary is 1 of 5 actors playing the apes in the new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. “When you see armies of apes,” he says, that’s “five of us.” Check out the video where you can watch his performance capture work.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/melissa-mccarthy-daily-show.jpg
Melissa McCarthy and John Stewart Talk About Terrible Commercial Auditions on ‘The Daily Show’
Melissa McCarthy stopped by The Daily Show last week to plug about her new movie, Tammy. She talked about how she loved working with her husband, Ben Falcone (director of Tammy) and then segued into talking about some horrible working situations. The always hilarious McCarthy then started to tell host John Stewart about a particular [...]