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.
From the Central Coast to San Diego, from Santa Monica to Palm Springs, there are fascinating people creating incredible art and performances. KUSC will be covering those experiences on Arts Alive. And when you’re in the mood for a little more, like a longer version of an interview, more Arts Alive coverage is available online at kusc.org/artsalive.