Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
The Film: Evil computer guru John Geiger (Dafoe) messes with a giant cruise liner and sets it on a collision course for an oil tanker. Attempting to stop him? Annie (Sandra Bullock).
Dafoe Menace: The film stinks, but Dafoe is the ultimate villain – a mad-eyed loon who’ll do anything to ensure his plans are carried out. He also seems to be the only one in Speed 2 who’s actually having fun…
xXx 2: The Next Level (2005)
The Film: Ice Cube takes over from Vin Diesel as new xXx agent Darius Stone, who heads to Washington in order to stop a faction of the US military from assassinating the president.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe knows how to play a villain, and even though xXx2 is a drivelsome mess, he’s the bright spark amid the rubbish, at least giving us a reason to watch to the end.
Body Of Evidence (1993)
The Film: Madonna jumps on the Basic Instinct bandwagon as the lover of a millionaire who’s found dead. Did she kill him for his money? Frank Dulaney (Dafoe) defends her at court…
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe shrivels up in the shadow of Madonna’s hideously bloated performance, meaning you almost forget he’s there. The poor guy even gets hot wax poured over his sensitive bits. Talk about humiliation…
New Rose Hotel (1998)
The Film: Sci-fi drama in which two futuristic corporations fight over intelligent brains.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe can barely keep his clothes on for more than five minutes here, which means his ‘menace factor’ is running pretty low. No wonder his character looks perpetually embarrassed.
Roadhouse 66 (1985)
The Film: Hitchhiking ex-rocker Johnny (Dafoe) is picked up by Beckman (Judge Reinhold) on Route 66, and helps him get revenge on a gang who shot out his car.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe goes for mysterious and inscrutable, and slam-dunks it. Which is quite an achievement considering the scene where he hops on stage to belt out a tune.
Flight Of The Intruder (1991)
The Film: Lieutenant Jake Grafton (Brad Johnson) and pilot Virgil Cole (Willem Dafoe) steal an A-6 bomber in an attempt to win the war in Vietnam.
Dafoe Menace: As bad boy Virgil, Dafoe brings a swaggering confidence to the film. You wouldn’t want to cross this guy.
The Film: New York detective Stan Aubray (Dafoe) investigates a series of brutal murders that appear to be copycatting a case he previously worked on.
Dafoe Menace: In a film stuffed with one-dimensional characters, Dafoe manages to find interesting beats in his detective, who makes for a unique lead.
Pavilion Of Women (2001)
The Film: In 1938, Father Andre (Dafoe) begins an affair with a married woman who belongs to a fiercely religious family. Meanwhile, Japan invades China…
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe reins in the menace to deliver something quiet, measured and affecting – even if his priest is a total horn dog.
The Film: Set in 1948, this political drama from director Julian Schnabel follows the efforts of Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass) to set up an orphanage in Jerusalem.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe appears briefly as Eddie, friend to Bertha Spafford (Vanessa Redgrave), and offers the film a touch of class even though the role is almost non-existent.
White Sands (1992)
The Film: Deputy Sheriff Ray Dolezal (Dafoe) impersonates a dead man he discovered in the White Sands desert, and finds himself caught up in an FBI investigation.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe manages to turn a character who does daft, often incomprehensible things (like, uh, impersonate a dead man) and make them seem reasonable. His sheriff is a likeable everyman who’s easy to root for.
The Clearing (2004)
The Film: Arnold Mack (Dafoe) kidnaps Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford) and holds him hostage in the forest. Meanwhile, Wayne’s wife Eileen (Helen Mirren) deals with the consequences at home.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe does the ‘understated’ thing, and the result is one of his finest dramatic turns – here he’s an easy match for Redford.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampires Assistant (2009)
The Film: A teenager attempts to save his friend from a freak show vampire, but then strikes up an unusual deal with the bloodthirsty fiend.
Dafoe Menace: His role is cut right back, but Dafoe still manages to bring an oddball bite to the part of Gavner. Notably eccentric.
Mr Beans Holiday (2007)
The Film: Mr Bean discovers what life’s like in France when he wins a trip to Cannes. Naturally, it’s not long before the requisite mishaps take place. You can take the man out of the country…
Dafoe Menace: If by ‘menace’ you mean ‘pretentious’, then Dafoe’s got it in spades here, pitching up as a full-of-himself filmmaker. Explains Mr Bean's terrified expression...
The Film: Axel Heyst (Dafoe) saves a young woman from a racist German, taking her to his own secluded island. But the sinister Mr Jones (Sam Neill) is on their tail…
Dafoe Menace: “What is this?” asks Jones. “A warning,” says Heyst. Dafoe flips the menace on like a switch, easily balancing it with the more passionate inclinations of his character.
The Loveless (1982)
The Film: An homage to 1950s biker flicks and Kathryn Bigelow’s directorial debut, following a biker gang who pitch up in a small town on their way to the races.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe’s official movie debut (his previous role in Heaven’s Gate was cut) has him showing early promise as a villain, here leading a gang with typical charisma.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
The Film: Last in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. This time the webbed one trades fists with Sandman, New Goblin and Venom.
Dafoe Menace: Blink and you’ll probably miss him, but Dafoe’s presence in Raimi’s final Spidey flick is pivotal as his son (James Franco) takes over Goblin duties. Slimy as ever, his hallucinogenic form convinces Harry to go up against Spidey…
The Film: John Waters' sprightly musical, in which teen orphan Cry-Baby (Johnny Depp) is able to make women swoon just by shedding a single tear...
Dafoe Menace: Go make a cup of tea and you’re likely to miss Dafoe as a prison guard who makes all the prisoners repeat “God bless Dwight Eisenhower! God bless Roy Cohn! God bless Richard Nixon!” Terrifying.
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009)
The Film: Werner Herzog’s Golden Lion-nominated drama. Detective Havenhurst (Willem Dafoe) investigates when a woman is found dead, having been run through with a sword.
Dafoe Menace: Not much menace to speak of here, as producer David Lynch’s love of bizarre, caricature-style detectives comes through in Dafoe’s nuanced, occasionally goofy performance.
Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003)
The Film: El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) returns, going up against a corrupt Mexican drug lord who orchestrates a fake coup, and has connections with a CIA Agent.
Dafoe Menace: Lathered in fake tan, Dafoe plays the madman like only he can. The result is supremely chilling.
Streets Of Fire (1984)
The Film: A bona fide classic from director Walter Hill. When his girlfriend’s kidnapped by a gang led by the pasty-pale Raven (Dafoe), Tom Cody (Michael Paré) turns mercenary to get her back.
Dafoe Menace: Rocking a quiftastic ‘do and a penetrating sneer, Dafoe seems to have taken style tips from a vampire. Which only adds to his awesomeness – this is an early villain role that really shows what Dafoe is capable of.
Tom & Viv (1994)
The Film: Vivienne Haigh-Wood (Miranda Richardon) and T.S. Eliot (Dafoe) elope in 1915, but their parents disapprove of their marriage.
Dafoe Menace: Though he doesn’t particularly resemble the real Eliot, Dafoe manages to capture the writer’s anguish brilliantly.
The Film: In 2019, the world is populated by vampires. But as blood stocks run dry, a small band of humans attempt to figure out a way to save mankind.
Dafoe Menace: Wielding a crossbow as ex-vamp Lionel 'Elvis' Cormac, Dafoe is charismatic and charming while also convincing as a total bad-ass. You want this guy on your side.
Auto Focus (2002)
The Film: An unsettling biopic of Hogan’s Heroes TV star Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear), with Dafoe pitching up as John Carpenter (no, not that John Carpenter).
Dafoe Menace: It’s all about the dark humour here, as Dafoe plays Carpenter with an evil glint in his eye. You really believe this guy could turn somebody as innocent as Crane into a degenerate sex addict.
The Film: Dark and twisted drama from Lars von Trier that divided critics right down the middle. The story follows grieving couple He (Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
Dafoe Menace: The menace is all Gainsbourg’s here, as Dafoe falls prey to her increasingly fractured mind. The bit with the drill is pure horror movie.
Animal Factory (2000)
The Film: Ron Decker (Ed Furlong) is thrown in jail, where a group of older convicts teach him the ropes.
Dafoe Menace: “You haven’t been here long, have you?” asks a head-shaven Dafoe before showing Ron how prison life really works. The look on Dafoe's face when he throws a punch at a guy twice his size is priceless.
Light Sleeper (1992)
The Film: Reformed addict John LeTour (Dafoe) starts to question his life working as a runner for an up-market drug dealer.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe breaks the mould as a man attempting to wriggle his way out of New York’s druggy underbelly, but constantly butting up against the sinister likes of Susan Sarandon’s dealer.
The Hunter (2011)
The Film: Daniel Nettheim's gorgeous drama, in which mercenary Martin David (Dafoe) is sent off into the Australian wilds to track down the last Tasmanian tiger.
Dafoe Menace: Though Dafoe’s character is the one being hunted here (mostly), David knows how to take care of himself in a spot. Dafoe finds a nice balance between David’s soft and hard sides.
Triumph Of The Spirit (1989)
The Film: Auschwitz prisoner Salamo Arouch (Dafoe) gets into the ring to fight other internees for the entertainment of his captors.
Dafoe Menace: Lean, toned, bulked up, Dafoe simply is a boxer in Triumph of The Spirit , but there are also subtle notes here which play up the tragedy without cranking up the melodrama.
Clear And Present Danger (1994)
The Film: Based on Tom Clancy’s novel. Harrison Ford plays Jack Ryan, a CIA Analyst who gets caught in a war between the US Government and a Colombian drug cartel.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe keeps us on our toes as Ford’s unlikely ally, a secret field operative whose motives are never entirely, uh, clear. The chemistry between the two fair crackles, and Dafoe can play ‘suspicious’ in his sleep.
The Film: David Cronenberg’s sci-fi body horror. A game designer plays her latest virtual reality game in order to find out if it's been damaged by assassins who are attempting to kill her.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe sets the dial to ‘creepy’ as a garage mechanic. Here he’s effortlessly intimidating and mysterious.
John Carter (2012)
The Film: Oh, just Disney’s biggest flop ever. This adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars novels has Taylor Kitsch playing the titular (and tits-out) hero.
Dafoe Menace: As the motion-captured alien Tars Tarkas, Dafoe manages to project authority and charisma even though he's acting on stilts and wearing a mo-cap suit.
The Film: In the 1980s, KBG analyst Sergei Grigoriev (Emir Kusturica) leaks information to the West in the hopes that it will force the Soviet regime to reform.
Dafoe Menace: “No democracy can function without the trust of its people,” says Feeney (Dafoe), Director of the CIA. It’s a small role, but Dafoe offers considerable support and gets to sound wise, which is always good.
Shadow Of The Vampire (2000)
The Film: Dafoe plays Max Schreck, who’s currently playing a vampire on the set of Nosferatu . But is Schreck acting? Or does he really have a taste for blood?
Dafoe Menace: Though he’s smothered in prosthetics, Dafoe has no trouble playing the film’s eponymous vampire. It’s half tongue in cheek, half genuinely unsettling.
To Live And Die In L.A. (1985)
The Film: Criminal mastermind Eric Masters (Dafoe) is pursued by a cop whose partner he murdered.
Dafoe Menace: Eccentric and volatile as Masters, Dafoe creates one of cinema’s most memorably vile villains – and a guy you definitely wouldn’t want to mess with.
Born On The Fourth Of July (1989)
The Film: Director Oliver Stone returns to Vietnam (after his phenomenal Platoon ) to tell the story of golden boy Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise), who becomes an unlikely anti-war activist.
Dafoe Menace: Manic, bearded, stuck in a wheelchair, a sweat-dripping Dafoe does deranged with aplomb, clashing with Tom Cruise in one of the film’s most surreal sequences .
Wild At Heart (1990)
The Film: Dafoe plays hired gun Bobby Peru, who’s contracted by a mysterious crime boss to put the kibosh on Nicolas Cage’s Sailor Ripley.
Dafoe Menace: You want menace? All Dafoe needs to do is stretch a pair of tights over his head and flash his teeth. It’s deliriously OTT and heavy with black humour.
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
The Film: Wes Anderson’s kooky family drama, in which Bill Murray’s oceanographer Steve Zissou plans a revenge attack against a mythical shark that killed his partner.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe forgoes all-out menace in favour of the funny stuff, bringing a keen humour to the role of German Klaus Daimler. He jousts with Owen Wilson and is convincingly loyal to Zissou.
The English Patient (1996)
The Film: Anthony Minghella’s sweeping romantic drama, in which Kristin Scott Thomas’ nurse tends to an injured plane crash victim.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe pitches up as a double-agent spy whose agenda is never clear, and whose anger is barely concealed under a cool, dangerous façade.
Paris, je taime (2006)
The Film: Twenty filmmakers explore the different sides of Paris, with only five minutes each to tell their tale. Dafoe appears in the segment ‘Place des Victoires’ directed by Nobuhiro Suwa.
Dafoe Menace: Little menace to speak of here, which is probably a good thing considering Dafoe's character spends most of his time attempting to comfort Juliette Binoche. Ah, he’s a softie really.
The Film: Sam Raimi brings the web-slinging city-swinger to the big screen, with Tobey Maguire in the spandex suit and Dafoe getting nasty as the Green Goblin.
Dafoe Menace: He could’ve played it cackling and camp (and who could’ve blamed him?), but Dafoe goes for something far more interesting as the comic-book villain. In his hands, the Green Goblin is a man first, and a monster second. It’s an approach that survives in franchise reboot The Amazing Spider-Man.
The Aviator (2004)
The Film: The life of Howard Hughes as told by director Martin Scorsese, who tracks the young inventor from youthful enthusiasm to ageing paranoia.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe pitches up briefly as Roland Sweet, and sadly doesn’t have much time to employ his considerable ability to menace. Maybe next time, eh?
American Psycho (2000)
The Film: Mary Harron adapts Bret Easton Ellis’ novel for the screen, with Christian Bale as the self-obsessed pretty boy who has a taste for violence.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe plays the everyday straight man to Bale’s spiralling psycho, always with an undercurrent of danger.
The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)
The Film: Adapted from Nikos Kazantzakis’s novel and helmed by Martin Scorsese, this is a bracing dramatic exploration of Jesus’ last days – with Dafoe in the role of Saviour.
Dafoe Menace: The menace is scaled back in favour of genuine anguish as Dafoe gives one of his finest ever performances.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
The Film: Arguably the best of Raimi’s three Spider-Man movies. This one has Peter Parker attempting to reconcile his life as a superhero with his everyday existence. Oh, and he also fights Doc Ock.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe makes a fleeting appearance, his coughing cackle chilling as he appears in hallucinogenic form to convince son Harry to kill Spider-Man. Dafoe came up with the idea himself, likening the Goblin to King Hamlet.
Inside Man (2006)
The Film: Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) masterminds the perfect bank robbery, but the plan spirals out of control as the police surround the bank…
Dafoe Menace: Another small role for Dafoe, here playing the tired-looking Captain John Darius. Sadly the script doesn’t give him much of a chance to shine, the spotlight being shone more on Denzel Washington.
Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
The Film: Wes Anderson turns Roald Dahl’s book into a stop-motion marvel, as Mr Fox (George Clooney) hatches a plan to raid the stock of three farmers.
Dafoe Menace: Who better to play Rat than Dafoe? Though he appears in just two scenes, Dafoe proves himself an adept voice artist, bringing a sliminess to the character. Memorable but sadly underused.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
The Film: A pair of Irish brothers believe they have been ordered by God to kill Mafia gang members. Meanwhile, Detective Paul Smecker (Dafoe) investigates their crimes.
Dafoe Menace: Dafoe’s character is easily the film’s most interesting, the actor imbuing the detective with surprising depth as he investigates the brothers’ killings. Not particularly menacing, but riveting nonetheless.
Mississippi Burning (1988)
The Film: Alan Parker’s film takes a sober look at issues of racism in the 1960s, as Dafoe and Gene Hackman’s mismatched investigators look into the deaths of three civil rights workers.
Dafoe Menace: There are tensions between Dafoe and Hackman’s FBI agents, though it stops short of all-out menace. The interesting stuff here is found in how the two detectives go about their work in totally different ways.
Finding Nemo (2003)
The Film: Pixar’s oceanic marvel, which finds Dafoe voicing Gill, a Moorish Idol trapped in a dentist’s aquarium – and determined to get out.
Dafoe Menace: Even when playing a good guy, that signature Dafoe menace is present and correct in his gravely vocals – and, naturally, his fish is a battle-scarred wise-fin.
The Film: Oliver Stone’s defining war movie, set in a bombastic Vietnam where Charlie Sheen’s young fighter is exposed to the horrors of combat.
Dafoe Menace: The menace is fired up to the max in Dafoe’s breakout role as Sgt. Elias, not least when he butts heads with Tom Berenger’s Sgt. Barnes. Staggering stuff.