Truths About Willem Dafoe’s Rise To Mainstream Fame, Relationship with LeCompte and Marriage

Calm, calculated, and funny, Willem Dafoe is an American actor who is considered to be one of the most successful Hollywood stars ever. His instantly recognizable voice has charmed fans over the years as he keeps churning out thrilling projects to keep people glued to their TV screens. Having been in the business for more than 40 years, appearing in more than 100 movies and TV series, Dafoe is a true Hollywood legend whose contributions to the industry will never be forgotten.

However, as great as he is now, there was a time when he was a young, struggling actor, trying to find his footing in Hollywood before eventually blowing out to stardom. Do you know about those early days of Willem Dafoe’s career? What about the details about the woman he loves? Allow us to tell you about all these and more.

Inside Willem Dafoe’s Incredible Acting Career

Born William James Dafoe on a Friday, July 22nd, 1955, in Wisconsin, Dafoe grew up with seven siblings. Because his father was a doctor and his mother a nurse, they were so busy that he had to be raised by his siblings.

Growing up, he realized he wanted to be involved in acting so he decided to study drama at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee after graduating from Lawrence University, however, he never got to complete his studies. He left the school after just one year and joined a theatre group.

Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe and Grigoriy Dobrygin in A Most Wanted Man (2014)

The Early Years In The Theatre

The theatre group Willem Dafoe joined was known as Theater X. Dafoe toured with the group for four years before he eventually relocated to New York to chase his big dreams. Upon getting there, he joined another theatre troupe called The Performance Group.

While with The Performance Group, he gathered a few experiences and met Elizabeth LeCompte, a popular American actress, and director. LeCompte later left The Performance Group and became the co-founder of The Wooster Group, a theatre group that Dafoe became a member of. Willem Dafoe continued to perform with The Performance Group for many years until the early 2000s.

Dafoe’s Breakthrough In Film

Willem Dafoe finally made his film debut in 1980 when he was cast to play Willy in Heaven’s Gate. Although it was a minor role which later got removed, that part became the landscape to his many successes in the movie industry.

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In the following year, he starred in the movie, Loveless and subsequently featured in the movies, The Hunger and Streets of Fire in 1983 and 1984 respectively. In 1985, Dafoe gained prominence and widespread recognition after he played the role of Eric Masters in To Live and Die in L.A.

In 1986, his growing fame got even bigger when he starred in Platoon, an American war film in which he played Sgt. Elias. The movie gained massive success and earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Having been exposed in a good way like that, he soon became one of the finest actors that period.

Some of the movies he is well known for include Mississippi Burning (1988), Body of Evidence (1993) Boondock Saints (1999) Shadow of the Vampire (2000) Spider-Man (2002) Antichrist (2009) Pasolini (2014) Dog Eat Dog (2016) At Eternity’s Gate (2018) The Lighthouse (2019) and many more.

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Willem Dafoe is mostly known for his action package characters in most movies. He has also sporadically appeared as a voice actor, as a gentleman in a few other movies and as many other things.

Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe plays Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Willem Dafoe Has Been Involved In Controversies

Willem Dafoe has played some controversial roles during his long acting career. His most controversial role was in The Last Temptation of Christ, a 1988 epic religious film in which he played Jesus. The film portrayed Jesus in a way that was a complete departure from the traditional scripture and this was not well received by Christians.

Consequently, huge protests erupted after the film was released and many Christians termed the movie ‘blasphemous’ and ‘sacrilegious. Dafoe was criticized heavily for agreeing to play the role of Jesus in the film. However, despite the controversy, the actor’s performance in the movie was widely praised.

Willem Dafoe also starred in the controversial experimental psychological horror film Antichrist in 2009. The movie was met with protests from people who condemned it as misogynistic and abominable, especially because of the way it depicted sexual mutilation in a horrific and really graphic manner.

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Again, Dafoe was also slammed for accepting to play the role in the movie. This notwithstanding, some critics praised the amount of work he did in the film.

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The Woman In Willem Dafoe’s Life

Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe and Giada Colagrande

Willem Dafoe is a happy family man and is deeply in love with the woman in his life. The actor is currently married to a woman called Giada Colagrande.

Just like her husband, Giada Colagrande is also a movie star. According to our findings, she is an Italian film director and actress who has shown prowess as a director.

Dafoe and Colagrande met each other when he attended the premiere of one of her films in Rome. They became friends and started dating soon after that. One year later – on March 25, 2005, the couple tied the knot as husband and wife and have remained married ever since.

Dafoe’s Romance With Elizabeth LeCompte

It is noteworthy that before Willem Dafoe met and married Giada Colagrande, he was in love with Elizabeth LeCompte whom he first met during his theatre days with The Performance Group.

Dafoe and LeCompte kickstarted their romance in 1977 and were famously head over heels in love with each other. In 1982, they welcomed a son called Jack Dafoe. Their son caused their bond to deepen as they teamed up to take care of him.

However, despite their love for each other and the son between them, Dafoe and LeCompte never got married. This was mainly because LeCompte saw marriage as something that represented ownership so she didn’t want to be a part of it – even though Dafoe wanted to get married.

Eventually, their differences forced them apart and they finally parted ways in 2004. It was after their separation that Willem Dafoe proceeded to meet and marry Giada Colagrande.

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