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Willem Dafoe's Quotes

Willem Dafoe profile photo

Born: 1955-07-22
Profession: Actor
Nation: American
Biography of Willem Dafoe

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Let's hope I never end up on a deserted island, because I could never make a decision on which three CDs to take with me.

Tags: Decision, End, Hope

My dad was a surgeon, my mom a nurse, and they were always out working. I had five sisters and a brother. They didn't care what I got up to.

Tags: Care, Dad, Mom

The best thing an actor can be is ready. Be flexible, be ready.

Tags: Actor, Best, Ready

The director's very important to me, particularly when the director has a recognizable style.

Tags: Director, Style

There's a real wisdom to not saying a thing.

Tags: Real, Saying, Wisdom

Truth is, generally I like film festivals; somewhere at some level there's an exchange of ideas.

Tags: Film, Ideas, Truth

Turn off the sound in a movie, and if you can tell what's going on, the movie should work.

Tags: Off, Tell, Work

Weirdness is not my game. I'm just a square boy from Wisconsin.

Tags: Boy, Game, Wisconsin

When I was a kid I was very interested in the idea of the will, finding out what you're capable of. I liked those kind of challenges.

Tags: Idea, Interested, Kid

You can be intuitive when you've got a more expansive role. You can get into the poetry of telling the story rather than just pushing buttons.

Tags: Poetry, Rather, Story

A lot of critics are lazy. They don't want to look closely and analyze something for what it is. They take a quick first impression and then rush to compare it to something they've seen before.

Tags: Impression, Lazy, Seen

Film is an editor's medium. You can create very good raw material and they can make it horrible, or you can do not so well and they can make it beautiful. You don't really know.

Tags: Beautiful, Film, Good

I don't have a preference between theatre and film; I like to do both. But I will say that there's something about theatre that is more nourishing and sustaining than film ever can be.

Tags: Between, Both, Film

I love doing action and stuff; the problem is usually action movies are not that interesting. Also as I get older I feel like there's less opportunities for me.

Tags: Love, Movies, Problem

I love Sam Neill. The thing that I always say about him, and I think it's true, is he's so dry. When he's serious, I think he's joking; when he's joking, I think he's serious.

Tags: Him, Love, True

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.

Tags: Best, Knowing, Work

I think, as I've gotten older, I've been able to be more reckless with my choices, because practically speaking, you get less careful. Your choices become more instinctive, and you feel like if you make a mistake, it won't destroy you.

Tags: Able, Become, Older

I was born William. My father was William. I came from a big family, I hated being called Billy. Willem's a nickname; it's a Dutch name, very common in the Netherlands.

Tags: Big, Family, Father

I'm an optimist. I hope if a movie's good that it will be a success, but as we know, that's not always true, just because of popular taste, advertising, distribution patterns - there's lots of reasons.

Tags: Good, Hope, Success

I'm not attracted to naturalism, I'm not attracted to behavior, I'm attracted to dance. I'm attracted to gesture, I'm attracted to singing with your voice, as opposed to having a natural manner. I'm a theater actor first, so that probably influences a lot of my approach. And I think in many ways, naturalism has ruined movies.

Tags: Actor, Dance, Movies

In films you do a scene, you play around with it and unless you're doing a lot of reshooting, which no one has the luxury to do, you deal with the problem for a day and then you move on. On some level, it never allows you to go very deep into what performing is about.

Tags: Deep, Move, Problem

It makes me laugh when I hear a guy talking about being in touch with his feminine side. But I gravitate towards women; I identify with them. And I do cry very easily, more and more as I get older.

Tags: Laugh, Makes, Women

It's true in the beginning I started playing villains, and I think that's pretty clear, because if you don't conventionally look a certain way and you've got a certain kind of presence when you're young, then what's available to you is character roles, and the best character roles when you're young tend to be villains.

Tags: Best, Character, True

One of the pleasures of being an actor is quite simply taking a walk in someone else's shoes. And when I look at the roles I've played, I'm kind of amazed at all the wonderful adventures I've had and the different things I've learned.

Tags: Else, Learned, Someone

Plenty of bad movies are very successful, and plenty of good movies are not. And distribution is so crazy, some films won't even get their day in court.

Tags: Crazy, Good, Movies

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.

Tags: Happen, Sometimes, Yourself
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Sometimes I think women are lucky because they can develop in ways men can't. The old-boy network may be oppressive to women, but it actually stunts men in terms of personal growth.

Tags: May, Men, Women

That's a frustration sometimes, that certain directors that I'd like to work with, they just aren't doing stories that I'm sort of castable in. Not always, but sometimes I have that frustration.

Tags: Sometimes, Stories, Work

The bad things about theatre get balanced by the good things in film and vice versa. So to tell you the truth, I love it when I can go back and forth - it feeds different parts of you and exercises different muscles.

Tags: Good, Love, Truth

The English Patient' is about the coming together of a French-Canadian nurse, an English patient, a Sikh in a turban and me, Caravaggio, and each of us is seeking a resolution to our own problems.

Tags: Patient, Problems, Together

The Midwest isn't somewhere you mix with those from the performing arts. But my mum and dad would go off to Chicago every so often to see shows. They would bring back the albums and the movies, those little eight metres, and we would all watch. I think that was when I fell in love with acting.

Tags: Dad, Love, Movies

When I give over to somebody's vision rather than have an idea of what I need to do, it takes me to places I wouldn't have got to by myself. I'm always attracted to a strong director.

Tags: Give, Rather, Strong

When you work on anything, you want to find the range of impulses - which ones get portrayed is another question, but you want to have that complexity and that fullness, even if you're playing a cartoon character.

Tags: Another, Character, Work

The worst thing is to get involved with people who aren't passionate about what they're doing.

Tags: Involved, Passionate, Worst

I wish to Christ I could make up a really great lie. Sometimes, after an interview, I say to myself, 'Man, you were so honest - can't you have some fun? Can't you do some really down and dirty lying?' But the puritan in me thinks that if I tell a lie, I'll be punished.

Tags: Fun, Great, Lie

I'm one of those people who when I go over a bridge, I want to jump. It's just this intense tickle in the back of my throat. It's like I'm on the verge the whole time I'm walking over that bridge, and I'm not going to get a release until I jump.

Tags: Time, Until, Whole

The mask can be a limitation, but you just deal with it. You do get superhuman strength and pumpkin bombs and all this other stuff to express yourself with.'

Tags: Strength, Stuff, Yourself

Action breeds inspiration more than inspiration breeds action.

Tags: Action, Breeds

All the time, as an actor, you want to be asking what's next and where things are going. If you're not asking those questions, you're not growing.

Tags: Actor, Next, Time

Any actor who tells you that he makes choices, absolutely, is wrong. You find work and work finds you.

Tags: Makes, Work, Wrong

Basically, when I hear the words 'family drama,' I run in the opposite direction.

Tags: Direction, Family, Words

Celebrity is okay as long as you know it's not about you.

Tags: Celebrity, Okay

Emotionally men and women are different, but only as a result of the physical differences. It all comes back to our bodies.

Tags: Men, Result, Women

Film is fragmented and gets into lots of other people's hands. There are a lot of pleasures that theatre gives me. You get to perform uninterrupted.

Tags: Film, Hands, Theatre

Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.

Tags: Aspire, Great, Theatre

I am confident only when I am constantly in motion. Between projects, the doubt creeps in.

Tags: Between, Confident, Doubt

I do want to be in mainstream movies that are going to be seen. I suppose it satisfies the showbiz side of me.

Tags: Movies, Seen, Side

I don't think people want to see me as a regular guy; besides, I'm a regular guy in real life. I guess I just want to be reckless in my work.

Tags: Life, Real, Work

I guess they often cast me as the bad guy, because I'm not, er, conventional looking. I look sort of violent. I'm the odd one out, the outsider.

Tags: Bad, Looking, Often

I love theaters. I love the event of going there and seeing a movie with a lot of people. I like the community coming around the story.

Tags: Love, Movie, Story

I try to do as many of my own stunts as possible. If you keep on taking yourself out of the role you play, you lose the thread of the character.

Tags: Character, Try, Yourself

I was watching 'Wild at Heart,' and I can honestly say I did nothing for that apart from show up!

Tags: Heart, Show, Wild

I'll never be able to really see a film that I'm in.

Tags: Able, Film

I'm a task-oriented actor. A pretender. And I try to invent my process anew each time I make a new project. So I frown on any method.

Tags: Actor, Time, Try

I'm no different to anyone else; I want people to like me. I just don't particularly want them to understand me.

Tags: Anyone, Else, Understand

I've never had any close male friends. The most important relationships in my life have always been with women.

Tags: Friends, Life, Women

In my experience, sometimes a movie just hits at the wrong time, gets the wrong press, or gets the wrong representation, and it gets misunderstood.

Tags: Experience, Sometimes, Time

It's no fun for an actor to keep repeating what you did before. It's always changing. I'm changing. The target keeps moving. That's the beauty of it.

Tags: Beauty, Fun, Moving
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