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Behind Willem Dafoe’s Transformation into Vincent Van Gogh

Willem Dafoe in the new film “At Eternity’s Gate” | Photo by CBS Films

Hit play below to listen to our extended Arts Alive feature with Willem Dafoe.
 
 

Behind Willem Dafoe’s Transformation into Vincent Van Gogh

 
 
Willem Dafoe played the actor who played the vampire in Nosferatu, and he’s played more than one actual vampire. He’s been the Green Goblin, the good-hearted, ill-fated Sergeant Elias in Platoon… and even Jesus himself. Last year, he was the stern but caring motel manager in The Florida Project. Now, he’s Vincent Van Gogh. In the new drama, At Eternity’s Gate, Dafoe reunited with the painter-turned-director Julian Schnabel — whom Dafoe has worked with since Schnabel’s directing debut in 1996 — portraying the other famous painter in the last season of his life. The casting drew some double-takes, since Van Gogh died when he was 37, and Dafoe is… well, 63. But the actor has a good answer for that, which you’ll hear in our conversation. We also touched on avoiding the clichés about Vincent Van Gogh, how Dafoe learned to paint for real for this part, and why he gravitates towards outcast characters.

At Eternity’s Gate, starring Willem Dafoe and directed by Julian Schnabel, is in select theaters on Friday, November 16th. You can also hear a review on KUSC’s Arts Alive Podcast.

Written by:
Tim Greiving
Tim Greiving
Published on 04.01.2019

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