Authentic Wisconsin.  Willem Dafoe

Actor Willem Dafoe at the opening of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival at the Berlinale Palast.

Above: Actor Willem Dafoe at the opening of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival at the Berlinale Palast. Photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported: Siebbi.

Willem Dafoe - Actor; born William James Dafoe on July 22, 1955 in Appleton, Wisconsin. Appearing in over 100 movies, Defoe is probably best known for his roles as Sergeant Elias in Oliver Stone's war film Platoon (1986), Jesus of Nazareth in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Max Schreck in Shadow of the Vampire (2000), Norman Osborn/the Green Goblin in Spiderman (2002), and Bobby Hicks in The Florida Project (2017) to name a few.

Defoe, grew up in a large house near Lawrence University in Appleton and was the seventh of eight children. Defoe attended Appleton East High School but was expelled because of a video editing project in his communications class.

"I just stopped going to school because ... they kicked me out!"

According to an interview on The Late Show with Steven Colbert in 2018, Defoe explained that when he went out for lunch he left the footage he was shooting on the editing bed. The footage included segments about a satanist with a pornography collection, a guy that was interested in legalizing pot and a nudist. Defoe claims that he was going to cut the crazy stuff out but his teacher found the footage while he was at lunch and reported DeFoe to the principal. So, when Defoe returned from lunch he was told to go to the principal's office where his parents (who were already there) exclaimed, "Oh, Willy, you're making pornography!"

In a story published in Appleton's local newspaper, The Post-Crescent, in 1987, Dafoe said he completed graduation requirements by taking a class at Lawrence University. He then went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) where he took drama classes. Defoe dropped out of UWM after a year and a half to join the experimental theater company Theatre X in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before moving to New York in 1976.

In the January, 2018 The Late Show with Steven Colbert interview, Dafoe mentions the impact Madison had on him as a teenager. He had sisters who went to school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and he told Colbert they "came back transformed."

For more information on Willem Dafoe, visit Wikipedia.

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Famous Wisconsinites

Willem Dafoe.

Willem Dafoe

Platoon movie poster.

Above: Dafoe depicted in an iconic pose on the movie poster for Platoon (1986). Dafoe's charcter, Sergeant Elias, is falling to his knees, arms outstretched to sky in despair, abandoned and cornered by the Viet Cong. This powerful image used on the poster helped ensure that it was also the movie's most famous scene.
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Above: Defoe in a 1975 Theatre X production titled, "Civil Commitment Hearings."

Above: Defoe in a Jaunaury, 2018 interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Above: Defoe in Jim Beam ad - "Bold Choice" Movement.

Above: Poster for Mississippi Burning. Buy Poster

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