Actor Willem Dafoe Expresses Strong Ties with Greece: ‘If Someone Invites Me, I Will Come!

BERLIN. “I have many connections with Greece,” stated Willem Dafoe regarding Vasilis Katsoupis’ new film, “Inside,” in which he stars and is being released today (9/3) in theaters by Tulip, produced by the Greek company Heretic. The film has already received warm reviews from the 73rd Berlin Film Festival, where it had its worldwide premiere.

“If someone invites me to Greece, I will come!” admitted the American actor, emphasizing his strong ties with Greece. He had previously collaborated with Theo Angelopoulos on “The Dust of Time,” and we will also see him in George Lanthimos’ latest creation, “Poor Things,” a Victorian fairy tale of love and science fiction.

The first feature-length fiction film by Vasilis Katsoupis is an existential exploration of human needs, the essential value of art and luxury for human life. Willem Dafoe plays Nim, an aspiring art thief who is trapped in a luxurious hi-tech penthouse in New York, where he has no contact with the outside world and must employ all his sharpness and ingenuity to survive. Reminiscent of an urban, closed-door version of “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks, “Inside” – based on an idea by the director himself and written by Ben Hopkins – gave Dafoe the opportunity to portray yet another tortured and extreme character, as he had done in the past in “The Last Temptation of Christ” by Scorsese, “Antichrist” by Lars von Trier or “At Eternity’s Gate” by Julian Schnabel.

In the press conference held at the Athens Concert Hall last Monday, Dafoe spoke about his collaboration with the Greek director, stating, “He is very kind and generous, but I must say that he was also quite decisive and tough on set. Essentially, he was straightforward and clear – the type of collaborator you want to work with.” Vasilis Katsoupis mentioned that almost every scene they shot with Dafoe was captured in the first take, which could be awkward for the director, but it gave them the opportunity to experiment with other ideas. “Whatever crazy idea we came up with, he was willing to try it. He never said no,” Katsoupis added.

The script for “Inside” was introduced to the award-winning actor by the film’s producer, George Karnavas, who knew American executive producer Jim Stark, with whom Dafoe has connections. “I met with Vasilis and George several times. They were looking for the right apartment and art collection. The way they approached these issues convinced me that they were preparing something very special and that I would like to collaborate with them. This film has many elements that an actor can enjoy, such as the minimal dialogue. Personally, I love working with physical expression. Therefore, “Inside” presented a great opportunity for me to follow the character and have an unforgettable experience with him,” explained Dafoe.

When asked about why he might turn down a film role, Willem Dafoe said his only concern is that the movie might end up being bad. “Every film is something new, and even though I’ve appeared in so many, each one teaches you something. The most important thing for me is to understand why I’m doing a film. If my reasons are sound, then even if the outcome isn’t great, I can live with it. With every movie, I start from scratch and ask myself, ‘How will I do this?’ There’s always a sense of fear, but when you’ve experienced it enough times, it becomes less daunting. Sometimes, I think that the biggest fear for me is certainty. I enjoy walking towards something unknown and making it accessible to me. When you immerse yourself in a role and remain focused, you’ll eventually develop a connection with the material and the people involved.”

As for the characters he plays, Dafoe doesn’t necessarily identify with them, but he believes they stay with him forever. “When you have daily shoots that last for hours, it’s natural for the character to influence you. It seeps into you and remains with you even when the camera isn’t rolling. During the six-week shoot of Inside, I had no other life, so the character occupied me naturally. We also shot the scenes in chronological order to show the passage of time, so I saw my hair and nails grow, and I lost weight. I literally lived with Nemo, and my body indicated how long he had been in there. Through this process, you learn things that are difficult to unlearn. So, while the characters I’ve portrayed stay with me forever, it’s in a different way.”

When discussing Nemo, the hero of “Inside,” he believes that Nemo’s metamorphosis is not only physical, but primarily spiritual. “In essence, he is forced to confront himself, to look within himself – ‘inside,’ as the movie’s title suggests – something he may have never attempted in the past. The fact that he begins to interact with his surroundings and eventually creates his own art, I think this is what ultimately rescues him.”


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