The Trinity: Willem Dafoe
After tackling the astonishing depth of actors like Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, it only made sense to continue the trend by tackling the filmography of another Hall of Fame actor: Willem Dafoe. I've got 16 Dafoe movies under my belt according to Letterboxd, most of which feature the versatile actor in some sort of a supporting role.
That means this list is a little bit different than either my Hanks or Newman entries. This top three, in no order, combines both the quality of the film with the memorability of the part Dafoe was asked to play. Thankfully that wasn't terribly difficult. Without further ado, here's The Trinity: Dafoe edition.
With all due respect to Dane DeHaan, a good boy cursed with the face of a super-villain, it's going to be very hard for anyone to top the terrific, maniacal energy Dafoe brought to Norman Osborn in Sam Raimi's debut Spider-Man flick. If we're honest with ourselves, this is a part Dafoe was born to play. He's deeply unsettling even in scenes where he's playing it cool -- truly the scariest dad in the Marvel Cinematic Universe*
It's a bit of a shame we don't get to see Dafoe in the MCU now. I'd love to see him square off against Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans. Who knows, maybe they'll get him to reprise his role one of these days as an older Norman Osborne if they decide to bring back the Green Goblin.
Did anyone see this coming? No, no, not the inclusion of this film on this list, because you definitely didn't see that coming. I meant did anyone see Dafoe getting cast in a vampire movie and not getting cast as a fucking vampire? That's totally mind-blowing to me.
He also gets to almost star in a movie with one of his many almost-doppelgangers. He has a lot of them. Ethan Hawke is the one I'm referring to here, but you could put a lot of almost-Dafoe's together in a line as a sort of evolutionary chart if you never want to sleep again. I won't give you all of them, because what's the fun of that? Here's some bread crumbs, though:
Christian Bale, Dennis Leary, Ethan Hawke... have fun, kids... never sleep again.
One of the most surprising, and most excellent, films of the 2010's is a straightforward action vehicle for Keanu Reaves. That's surprising. One of the most surprising elements of the film? Dafoe plays one of the most sympathetic characters in the film. Try that shit on for size.
As Marcus, he also gets a pretty emotional gut-punch of an ending to his story. In a film that basically doubles as a cocaine-infused roller coaster, the Marcus-conclusion is deliberately slow. Don't worry, Dafoe also gets to do lots of cool action stuff as a total maniac. That's the good shit you signed up for.
*I know, I know, he's technically not, nerds. That's why I don't have comments turned on.