Earlier, my colleague Flynn Slicker gave you a trophy for being the Most Watched Actor on Letterboxd in 2022, the second year in a row you’ve held that title. While a lot of that comes from your recent films, or the enduring popularity of Spider-Man and Wes Anderson, if someone is a Willem Dafoe enthusiast looking for a deeper cut, is there a film of yours that maybe went a bit under the radar upon release that you’d recommend for them to seek out?
Wow. Some people tell me I made 140 films. I’d say there’s about 70 that I can recommend, just because there’s a lot of films that don’t get much release and that’s just the nature of things and the nature of making smaller films sometimes. I don’t know, it always blows my mind and it depends country by country also what they watch. So it’s a little hard and I’m kind of loath to recommend a film in a strange way.
I always remember—and I won’t use names, although it would be juicier if I did, but this person’s deceased, so I don’t want to say it—but there was an actor that I didn’t particularly care for. I saw him in an interview and there was only one film that he did that I really responded to, and I thought he was really great in. In that interview, he dissed that film and it blew my mind because it kind of ruined it for me. [Laughs]
So I think it’s not good for an actor to put forward or put down his films. Let the people decide. Yes, it makes sense if a film didn’t get its day in court, you want to put it forward. But, for example, recently there are films that are not for everyone. Some of the films that I’ve made with Abel Ferrara, for example: they’re not for everybody, but they’re virtually unknown in the States while they’re quite popular in other places in the world. So that’s always a curious thing.
Or a film I made with Hector Babenco, his last film, virtually unknown here. You can’t help but think ‘what’s up with that?’ But I can’t quite give you a list.
Before we wrap, I’ll ask you a question posed to your character in Inside: is no man an island, or is every man an island?
Oh, god. You know, you can’t have one without the other. It depends, yeah. Both are true. Why can’t both be true?