SUBSCRIBE NOW
and save 64% off the cover price
Magazine
SUBSCRIBE TO ESQUIRE MAGAZINE & ESQUIRE DIGITAL EDITIONS
Save up to 64% on the cover price - click here for our latest SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS and to get our digital edition for ipad now.

Willem Dafoe: What I've Learned

The 'regular guy of Hollywood' – and star of new Playstation 3 game Beyond: Two Souls – shares some of his life lessons

Willem Dafoe: What I've Learned

I don’t cling to advice, but I’ll always take it. God knows I need it.


I have favourite roles. But I try to forget what they are on principle.


I can’t think of anything worse than meeting my heroes. What would I say to them? I’ve been a Bob Dylan fan all my life; I think he’s an artist who is incorruptible. But I’ve been in the same room as him and I avoided him like crazy. He’s given me a lot – but that’s an awkward thing for me to tell him, he doesn’t need that burden. Then again, he’s supposed to be cranky anyway…


Working makes me happy. What I like about performing is the sensation you get when the world drops away. It’s easiest to find in the theatre, where you control your own rhythms. It’s long form. You’re uninterrupted. Something magical can happen.


Fame is slippery. It’s not really about you. In some ways I am famous, in other ways I am not.


People are basically sweet to me. I don’t think I am perceived as being ‘Hollywood’, so it’s sweet when people kind of claim me as a regular guy. I like that.


As you get older, you realise the stuff you think is important isn’t important, and the stuff you thought wasn’t important actually is.


When I was a little kid I was a conscientious student. I was so eager to be a good student I was a bad student.


I like ritual. Beautiful things can come out of ritual.


You have to balance discipline with a certain kind of recklessness. Otherwise you go from one end to the other and it is easy to lose your way.


You do read false rumours about yourself online and it makes you mad, because it confuses people. It’s not true I am playing Andy Warhol. Someone asked me to read a letter written by Warhol to use in a new film, a probably unaccredited voiceover. I like the director so I agreed. Then I read I’m playing him in a biopic. It’s kind of annoying.
 

I’m not telling you the last great book I read. It’s too private. It’s like asking me what I think of before I go to bed.


You always intend to remain good friends with other actors after a film. But if you’re working a lot, it’s impossible. There is a sweet camaraderie that survives until you next bump into each other on the circuit though, a special bond. It’s not exactly close friendship, but they are part of your circus family.


I’m not mister 300 pound gorilla at the box office. But I have a lot of work lined up.


I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t an actor. I have fantasies. They involve doing simple things – growing food, fishing, being outside. The closest I get is going to the supermarket and cooking.


Willem Dafoe stars in BEYOND: Two Souls, available on PlayStation 3 from 11th October