Willem Dafoe boasts an incredibly unique face, and he knows it. In an industry where innumerable headlines have been produced about celebrities who share striking resemblances or are frequently confused for one another, the Spider-Man alum came to accept this self-discovery after encountering some fans on a disconcerting subway ride.
The star of Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, well-known for his versatile and occasionally spine-chilling depictions of various iconic characters, reflected on the incident in a preview clip of Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist. Hilariously enough, when the Oscar-nominated actor stumbled upon these individuals, he was convinced something sinister was about to happen.
What the celebrity didn’t expect, though, was to face the truth about his face!
The Day Willem Dafoe Learned He Has A Distinctive Face
We’ve often come across buzz-worthy headlines or tweets that discuss the facial familiarity some celebrities share. There are instances when these parallels even transcend the industry, with similarities found even among the general masses.
Evidently, these celebrity doppelgängers have become a commonly observed phenomenon. Willem Dafoe, however, would beg to differ. Or at least the people at the subway who made him realize his facial distinctiveness would.
In this Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist preview clip, Dafoe discussed how starring as the Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man made him a recognizable face amongst the crowd. “A movie like that is so widely seen that you know, you could be in Timbuktu, and people would recognize you,” prefaced the actor.
The Togo alum then went into detail about how he came to acknowledge his unique appearance. Dafoe recalled being on the subway when “New York was still pretty rough.” The talent was traveling with his son from downtown to the Bronx Zoo. It was then that he encountered a few people staring at him constantly. According to the star, “Some guys got on the train … they’re looking at me, and they’re looking kinda rough,”
Dafoe thought he would get into trouble with them or that something dreadful was about to unfold. Much to his surprise, he met with a revelation that he could only reflect upon with laughter. He stated:
“I think, ‘Oh God, even with my son here, these guys are going to rob me for money or something. Something bad is going to happen.’ … Then, I heard one say, ‘Yeah, it’s got to be him. Nobody looks like that motherf—er.’ That’s when I knew.”
Despite being uncertain if the fans’ remark was intended as praise, the actor declared that he is not ashamed of this attribute. And the world would likely echo this sentiment. His distinctive face has graced endeavors and transformed various roles.
Willem Dafoe Reflected On His Prosthetic Transformation In Poor Things
Dafoe’s distinctive face has allowed him to embody numerous unforgettable characters, bringing forth an edge that’s difficult to come across in other endeavors. But for the critically acclaimed Poor Things, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the actor underwent a transformation that allowed him to appreciate the wonders of working with what he deemed a mask.
In the 2023 Emma Stone starrer, Willem Dafoe plays the lonely, eccentric scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter. The character also displays a disfigured face, a by-product of his late father’s experiments. According to reports, the well-known actor required hours to don and remove the prosthetics that allowed him to morph into the role.
Even though it was such a laborious procedure, Dafoe’s viewpoint on the transformation demonstrates his adaptability as a performer. He told A.frame in an interview the following:
“It’s always easier, and it’s not fun to wear them [prosthetics], but it also is. You decide to make it fun because it’s an opportunity. […] If you don’t look like yourself, and you don’t feel like yourself, then what are you? You get to play your scenes with a certain kind of wonder. It’s beautiful. Working with a mask is wonderful, so you put up with the inconvenience and the discomfort.”
Likening it to being reborn, Dafoe confirmed that the prosthetics and makeup enabled him to begin a new life in the role. It simplified his work, allowing him to tap into the headspace such an intricate character ought to possess. The 68-year-old actor’s dedication to the role is reflected in the science fantasy narrative carefully crafted by Lanthimos.
Poor Things (2023) is out in theatres.