A new story from Little Gold Men
Of being in studio today with the Great Willem Dafoe. Thank you for being here. Thank you so I'm just going to get right right there at the top of things and ask the lighthouse. What is what is the lighthouse about how God It depends on the person. Yeah I suppose like Russia test Maybe I mean it's It's two guys in lighthouse that There lighthouse keepers. One is an old hand. He's the regular lighthouse keeper. And then there's kind of a Newbie who's WHO's there for the first time and basically There to be relieved after a couple of weeks but bad weather comes and they don't get relieved. Things go very wrong after that they do. Indeed I saw the film at Cannes and I didn't know what to expect back. Because I'd seen Robert eggers. The the writer director his first film The witch and there is something totally similar. I guess but this is also something entirely. Its own beast. Some curious like when you first laid eyes on the script. Wh what did you make of. It ended relief out to. You is something you just had to do right away. Well To give you a sense of how the script came to me I saw the witch And I I didn't perfect circumstances in the respect that I had been away working I am. I didn't know anything about it and I went in cold and I liked it very much and I thought wow this who made this. This film has a really distinct voice. I want to meet this guy so I talked to my Representatives and arranged a meeting and met Robert and we we get along fabulously and agreed that we should work together and it took a while but This is the first thing that came gain press to do he presented to me said in a very direct it was you and Rob Pattinson. It's basically two hander. Hander here's the script and it was a beautiful script. I loved the text. There's an elevated language. I liked the character. I I liked the events I know we would be shooting in nature in very extreme nature so I knew that would road it. It would be an adventure and I'm like Basically the Ark of the characters in what happens to them so there was a Cornucopia of clashes had bad so It was a no brainer. Do you at this point in your career. You've worked with so many fascinating directors which I do want to ask you about In a bit Do you ever I mean do you get daunted by things. Do things like this production. I'm the shoe. I'm sure it was very difficult with the elements. And the you know Are there projects where you just were like scared of in away all the time. Yeah that's kind of the point right now. I think It's human nature to seek comfort. Take the familiar but as an actor. you're given these relatively safe opportunities to challenge that that nature and to Do things that you don't know how to do and The pleasure of that is you learn things and and You have the possibility to be transformed through stories and the experience of others The experiences variances. You have telling the story of others. And that's that's the beauty so I've find that in I think you'll hear the other actors say this as well when you have challenges it pushes you in a way to find a new way of being a no way of working working. And that's what keeps US alive. I mean speaking of other actors Your Co Star in this film wherever patents in Has had a really interesting career trajectory. He became very famous with Harry Potter. And then the twilight movies and since then has done I think a remarkable job of finding these interesting directors. Doing his a little kind of already projects. How important was your rapport with him in in shooting a movie? Because it's just to you I mean and and obviously Robert Behind the camera but like did you guys work to establish that kind of connection before shooting or did it come on set. Not really we. We had some rehearsal but the rehearsal was very particular because the film language is so the language of visual language is so rich that a lot of the rehearsals were basically to find out where the camera is going to be and basically to put the scenes in the frame of the camera. Normally you you play you play around with the scene and then you set the camera here. The camera was sat. And you had to kind of submit to that frame right which is interesting way to work because it really focuses casse issue it takes away certain choices but that can be a great source of power. As far as Robert. I agree with you one thing we have in common is I think we both Are turned on by strong directors and strong and you know people that have very very particular ways of making movies so we had that in common we have very different characters and very different Our position in the movie is very different so there was nothing really to talk about. There was it was really about the whole movie was about coming together or not right and That was the process of making the movie. I mean because I start out kind of Lording it over him and then it becomes a little bit of power struggle initially he's quite reticent but then with time I push him. I'm in the character pushes his character character to a point where he kind of pushes back and then difficult things happen Do you remember a particularly difficult thing while shooting was it was it the the water was at the. What was? It's the conditions that that's also the pleasure. Because that tells you what to do that really informs everything saying that you can act a cold pretty easily. Exactly exactly when you're laying in you know five inches of freezing water and Darts been poured on you. Yeah you don't even think about what has to happen because it's happening right. So you're receptive and you're you know you're experienced something you probably is beyond your imagination. Yeah Yeah it's like it's verite. I mean it's just it is so I liked hearing the story about using the witch and seeking Robert eggers is is that have have you worked that way in the past where you've seen a film and been like I gotTa talk to that person a little bit. Yeah a little bit. I mean I not so specific of seeing one film and saying hey I gotta talk octave this guy that that's happened some But I've cultivated relationships With Wes Anderson with Sean Baker. I mean I've sought them out Because I like what they're doing and then I arranged to meet with them and we talk and then when there's an opportunity that makes sense we've worked together I'm always interested in those careerist terms because you know a lot of the actors that I really love like yourself. I find that when I asked him like. Do you have like a career strategy. They always say not really. How much have you had to sort of pay attention in your career to like the sort of economics of the business of it or have you been able to be pretty artistically minded pretty artistically minded and for almost thirty years I worked day to day hey apathetic company so that was my main job and then occasionally it started out i? My identity was theater actor. And then people saw me at the theater and Most notably Kathryn bigelow and said You know would you like to to do this movie that I'm doing and I did it and I enjoyed it and then I wanted to do more but even then I was day in day out mostly at the theater and and then slowly I got an agent. I got a manager and started doing the business of having representation in the career but still day to day was the theater and I could only do so many movies now now I still do theater. But it's in case by case it's I'm not no longer with the company the wooster group. So that's changed things but really what set the tone was you you know. Mostly my identity wasn't in Hollywood for example right and I went to situations that I thought that would be exciting and thrilling. Really I on some level I mean. It sounds irresponsible but I I'm best when I'm kind of have a little off balance When I'm you know I cultivate Curiosity so I've been kind of all over the map in the kind of movies I've done the kind of roles I've done and I don't say that prideful that's just the way it was That's just the way it is is. That's where I'm lead so in that definition I think most people that have the strongest career plotted careers. are people that perfect Perform Persona and then that can be plugged into various projects. Now that that can be a wonderful thing we've seen some actors that you don't think of as as being crazy versatile but they worked beautifully in movies So not. I'm not a snob about that. It's just particular to me. I'm in I I. I don't even think of my self as an actor. Sometimes I I am always kind of Ray thinking what I do so I looked for opportunities where I can do that. You know the challenge challenge that idea of being an actor. It's like I have nothing out. I I want to have adventures. I want to be transformed. I WanNa learn learned something and then the things that I learned I can apply to Challenging how I think in challenging challenging my sense of self other than the obvious physical challenges and the verbal challenges. What did shooting the lighthouse kind of teach you or what is as you what is your takeaway from that? That Rob Eggers knows what he's doing that. I always like movies where the making of the movie at the movie is very is some sort of record of the making of the movie and of course this is you know. There's very disciplined informal formal Cinema language to this movie. It's very clear so don't get me wrong. Not Cinema verite like where recording things that as they're happening but when I see the movie it looks and feels like what we went. Okay yeah that that must that must feel nice. You're it is it is it gives you know it helps you. Connect the dots in a funny way to comfort. You know because the Matrix films are so oh collaborative that sometimes not just myself. I see this and other people you know you can do beautiful even heroic things things and have them get lost and you can do not so heroic lazy things and have them be elevated by the nature of editing. All these these things so when it's true to what it felt like when you're shooting it it's I duNno. It's it's I like it. It's something that you who Yeah I I can only call it a comfort. You know I I would say in the past couple years. You've between the Florida project and add attorneys gate eight and now the lighthouse and motherless Brooklyn like you've had a really interesting run of films of late and does it feel like a particularly exciting time for you right now. It does. Yeah it does. Yeah because I'm I'm excited by performing and I've been given some nice opportunities and they keep coming so I'm I'm happy about that. It's I'd be a liar if I said it wasn't a good period. Do you have any particular the project that you've worked on. This is a hard question. Maybe that can you kind of like has a special kind of glow in your memory like is there. Is there a piece that really stands out as a kind of cherished item item. So many maybe does that. Make me a narcissist a little bit like that many. I I mean you know occasionally you're also disappointed But for the most part I'm not into Regret are you a big sell successor of your work. I mean 'cause I talked to plenty of actors who never watched the Finnish version. I watched them yet. I watch them but I don't study them. I watch them just so I know so I can talk about them the right like this and also. I'm curious how they come out but it's very hard to really you know it's so tied up in in the shooting and when I watch a movie I can't really see the movie. I trust other people to see it better than I can because technically I can notice certain things. Oh they use that tech You know I thought there was a better one oh that's not at all like. I thought it would be we all. That's better than I thought it. All those things are happening in on not to mention. Oh I remember that dad feel so there oh I remember the director. It was mad matt. So and so this sort of thing That's what I'm experiencing right. I'm watching a movie so I don't watch it to say like Ooh you did that or Ooh Ooh you you were lazy. They're rule. You know why did you do that. I don't do that kind of analysis. Yeah that's probably healthy so you know. Also it's over over time to do the next thing. Yeah and I think your lessons are learned. You know you gotTa Develop Ella Discrimination. But but you don't want to think about this much. I think your lessons are learned in to Italy. And when you make a mistake I think you feel. Will you feel the hurt stab. You won't go to the same place so I kind of gathered. Just if you're seeking out people like Robert Egger Sean Baker that you're a pretty voracious film watcher like in your in your spare time or Yes yeah I like film I. It's like I seldom watch TV because because there's too many films dicit. Yeah Yeah but but I know I know plenty of my friends have more film culture than I do. I'm always a little embarrassed on There are holes in my film knowledge. Yeah so I'm not as ferocious as some you know I I. I do other things as well. I really lot when I prepare for things Or I try to not develop projects when I'm thinking about projects that are down the Pike I tend to like to read and Belated material did you read any fascinating fascinating light housekeeper lower about quickies ident- have do so much because Robert Eggers so damn good at research and he loves it so much..