Willem Dafoe Loves That Aquaman Was A Totally Different Experience From Spider-Man

Willem Dafoe Spider-Man and Aquaman Green Goblin and Vulko

It's been 18 years since the launch of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, but soon Willem Dafoe will be making his return to the comic book movie genre. Going from Marvel to DC, he is set to play Vulko in James Wan's Aquaman -- which will be out next month. Naturally the two filmmaking experiences were quite different for the actor, but this was something that Dafoe fully embraced, as he recently explained to me during an interview:

They are different. They're very different - because they have different aims. They're working with different materials, their working with different intentions. But that's okay! I like to mix it up because that way you don't get stuck. You don't start to believe that there's only one way of doing things, and you don't start believe there's only one way of living, and you don't start to believe there's only a certain kind of film that's worth making. It keeps you loose.

Before Aquaman makes its way into theaters, fans of Willem Dafoe will be able to see his impressive work in Julian Schnabel's At Eternity's Gate -- and it was at the new movie's Los Angeles press day that I got to sit down with the actor. After a discussion about his performance as famed artist Vincent Van Gogh, I asked him to compare and contrast his time on the Spider-Man and Aquaman sets, and he explained that while they were really totally different adventures, he really loved that variety.

In Spider-Man, of course, Willem Dafoe played Norman Osborn a.k.a. The Green Goblin, who was the main villain in the first movie, and then had cameos in the sequels. His role isn't quite as big in Aquaman, with Vulko serving as a mentor for the titular hero, but even beyond that it's pretty easy to see how the two productions likely differed. Hell, the new film is likely going to have him underwater for all of his scenes, which alone must have been a new experience.

Speaking to the contrasting comic book features on a larger level, Willem Dafoe explained that finding variety in the projects that he chooses is an important aspect of his work. He recognizes that he's at a special place in his career that allows him to make those kinds of choices, but he also feels that they are important in keeping him fully engaged with the work. Said the actor,

It's beautiful, and it's a privilege to be able to have those different experiences. And I don't value anything in judging one against the other. I have some preferences, but I don't lean on them. It's like my relationship with theater and film. I love doing theater, but when I'm doing theater I miss film a little bit. When I'm doing film, I love it, but I miss theater! I guess it's human nature.

You can watch Willem Dafoe talk about Spider-Man, Aquaman, and mixing things up career-wise by clicking play on the video below.

While Willem Dafoe fans will have to wait until December 21st to see him in action as Vulko, one of the best performances of his career will be getting a limited release in theaters this Friday. At Eternity's Gate, which co-stars Rupert Friend, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, and Oscar Isaac, chronicles the final years of Vincent Van Gogh's life, beautifully captured by Julian Schnabel in the aesthetic of the painter's incredible work. Stay tuned for more about the film, and more from my interview with Dafoe this week here on CinemaBlend.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.