Willem Dafoe admits that "asleep-at-the-wheel acting" garnered him well-earned Razzie nominations for Body of Evidence and Speed 2. But when the role's a good fit, the 46-year-old thesp does dazzle. He's scored an Oscar nod for Platoon, an Independent Spirit Award for Wild at Heart, and a second nod from the Academy for his bravura turn in last year's splendid Shadow of the Vampire (available on pay-per-view through Sept. 3). Shadow reimagines creepy German actor Max Schreck (Dafoe) as a bonafide bloodsucker who nearly slew the cast and crew of 1922's Nosferatu before director F.W. Murnau could finish his horror classic.
Sitting down to chat with TV Guide Online, Dafoe who will also raise hell as the Green Goblin in next year's Spider-Man says he can relate to a vampire thesp getting carried away with his work. Quips the actor: "Once you taste the pleasures of performing, you want to get high again and again."
What did Dafoe make of the basic concept of Shadow, that Schreck was a real vamp playing a reel vamp? "I thought it was fabulous," he says. "It was a very smart joke. Shadow could be perceived as a one-joke movie, but the conceit is so rich."
He adds that the oddball flick is "such a hybrid that some people are going to see it as a horror movie, some will see it as a black comedy, some will see it as a film about film, some will put a very intellectual spin on it and some will think it's a really low comedy.
"I'm simple-minded about it," he shrugs with a smile. "I go with the general assumption that I'm not a Martian, so if I'm engaged and something's happening for me, it'll happen for the audience."