Willem Dafoe is in town for the Chicago Film Festival. Last night he walked the red carpet prior to the premiere of his very controversial new film, Antichrist. But don't blame him if you have a beef with the movie, assuming you've got the cajones to sit through it -- which I confess, I don't. The director/writer, Lars von Trier, gets all the credit for the execution of the film's difficult subject matter. Dafoe is just a really good actor in it. I've heard from people who have seen it that no one walks out of the theatre unmoved. Most people are emotionally shaken for days afterward.
Along with several other media outlets, we interviewed Dafoe in the afternoon and again right after he received a lifetime achievement award from the head of the festival, Michael Kutza, whom I keep calling "kudzu". After taking plenty of time for questions from everybody, Dafoe also took time to let the fans have their pictures taken with him. He's a great actor; he does a great interview; he's got a good sense of humor; he's polite and considerate; in short, [he says he's 5'9", but I think 5'8"] he's like most people who are well versed in their craft-- he is unassuming and rather humble, considering how big a star he is. Good hair, too. Dyed a very natural color. Hey, the guy is in his fifties.
He's made over 70 movies, more than 20 since 2002. And he's often played the villain. But no matter how good he is, I still go back to his Oscar-nominated performance in Platoon, where he got to be the good guy and Tom Berenger, as Southeast Asia's most menacing version of Scarface, was one of the best bad guys whoever strapped it on. Platoon was the movie that gave Oliver Stone permission to make statement movies, even though some of his statements have seemed fabricated.
Oddly, a youthful Charlie Sheen, standing in the back row of the looks-so-real-you-can-almost-smell-the-napalm picture [above] that I scammed off Google images, got top billing in the film. I'm sure you can pick out Berenger [middle top] and Dafoe [top right]. And the guy on the right in the front row is Kevin Dillon. But who the heck is the guy on the lower left [not in the picture below, the picture above]?
Berenger looks so young. Dafoe looks the same now as then.