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Willem Dafoe facts, Age, wife, children, parents, siblings, net worth and more revealed

Who is Willem Dafoe?

Willem Dafoe is an American film and voice actor, best known for portraying dark and unconventional characters in films.

He is a versatile actor who chooses his roles more on the basis of their artistic merit than on their box office potential. He has acted in a variety of roles that range from that of an idealistic FBI agent in ‘Mississippi Burning’ to the villainous green goblin in ‘Spiderman.’

His well-defined cheekbones and strong jaws give him a look that suits the villainous roles that he often portrays. But he is also careful not to be typecast as villain and believes in exploring different kinds of roles that would help him develop as an actor.

He played negative roles in ‘To Live and Die in L.A,’ ‘The Loveless,’ and ‘Streets of Fire’ during the 1980s. Desiring some variety in the kind of characters he played, Dafoe portrayed the kind-hearted ‘Sergeant Elias’ in Oliver Stone’s ‘Platoon’—a role which earned him an ‘Academy Award’ nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actor.’

willem dafoe
Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe age

William James Dafoe was born was born on July 22, 1955, in Appleton, Wisconsin. He celebrated his 68th birthday in 2023.

He is of Scottish, French, English, Irish, and German descent. As a teen, Dafoe went to Appleton East High School. Later, he studied drama at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

Dafoe left college after a year-and-a-half to join the experimental theater group Theatre X in Milwaukee.

Subsequently, in 1976, he moved to New York City, where he apprenticed under avant-garde theater director Richard Schechner, founder of The Performance Group.

From The Performance Group, Dafoe co-founded The Wooster Group alongside Elizabeth LeCompte, Jim Clayburgh, and others.

willem dafoe parents
Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe parents

Willem Dafoe was born to William Alfred Dafoe, doctor, and his wife Muriel Isabel.

He recalled in 2009, “My five sisters raised me because my father was a surgeon, my mother was a nurse and they worked together, so I didn’t see either of them much.”

His surname, Dafoe, is the English version of the Swiss surname Thévou. During an interview, he said that half of his family puts the emphasis on the first syllable of the surname while the other half emphasizes the second syllable.

In high school, he acquired the nickname Willem, the Dutch version of the name William. He later took the new interpretation as part of his stage name because he had become more used to it than his birth name.

Willem Dafoe siblings
Richard, Willem, and Donald Dafoe at The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 1, 2018, in Santa Barbara, California. | Source: Getty Images

Willem Dafoe siblings

Willem Dafoe has seven siblings. Their names are: Donald Dafoe, Richard Dafoe, Nancy Christiansen,
Jane Lambie, Diane Fredrickson, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Sarah Holbrook.

Willem is the seventh of eight siblings and the only one who chased a dream of becoming an actor.

In fact, Willem revealed that his older brother and most of his sisters took a bullet for him when they followed in their parents’ footsteps and went into the medical sphere, as it allowed him to venture into what his heart truly desired.

Despite his fame as an actor, most of Willem’s siblings, namely his sisters Nancy Christiansen née Dafoe and Sarah Holbrook née Dafoe, have steered clear of the limelight. However, his eldest brother, Donald, has attracted attention for his talent as a surgeon.

In addition to serving as the chief of the Division of Transplantation at the University of California School of Medicine, in 2005, Donald was named the Pancreas Transplant Director at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in California.

As of 2005, Donald was married to a fellow surgeon and enjoyed spending time with his family when he wasn’t working.

Like Willem, Richard did not pursue a career in the medical field. Instead, he chose to practice Law after attending the University of Wisconsin.

“They put all my brothers and sisters through undergraduate and graduate school. Me, nothing, because they thought I was goofing around, but I was okay with that,” Willem revealed.

Dubbed a “Texas Super” lawyer, Donald has over 40 years of experience as a private practice attorney and has worked with banks, insurance companies, owners of businesses, and more.

He also has over three decades of experience as a board-certified Bankruptcy Business and Bankruptcy Consumer attorney.

Barbara is another of the few Dafoe siblings who did not pursue a career as a medical professional. Instead, she has made a name for herself as an award-winning journalist and author.

Barbara is also the co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Willem’s sister has earned a Ph.D. in American Social History from the University of Chicago and penned the award-winning book “The Divorce Culture: Rethinking Our Commitments to Marriage and Family,” which looks at the impact a father’s presence or lack thereof has on a child’s life.

Little was known about Diane and her professional life at the time of writing. However, in 2015, her personal life experienced a tragic loss as her husband, Daniel Fredrickson, a painter who specialized in large-scale murals, dioramas, and national and international exhibits, died.

The former couple shared three children: a son, Justin, a daughter, Annie, and another daughter, Faye, who had unfortunately passed away as well.

Willem Dafoe wife
Willem Dafoe and Giada Colagrande at the 68th Berlinale International Film Festival on Feb. 20, 2018. Photo: Brian Dowling/Getty

Willem Dafoe wife

Willem Dafoe has been married to Giada Colagrande since March 25, 2005. She is an Italian-born filmmaker and actress.

Her credits include directing 2010’s A Woman and 2016’s Padre, the latter in which she also starred alongside her husband. In the early 2000s, she focused heavily on video portraits and contemporary art.

The Spider-Man star opened up about his unique love story with Giada, which started in Europe on a whim.

“I met my wife on the street in Rome in 2004,” Willem told The Guardian in November 2009. “I knew of her because I’d seen her films, and we had some mutual friends. Getting married was very impulsive and romantic. We were having lunch and I said, ‘Do you want to get married tomorrow?’”

Luckily for the Wisconsin native, Giada felt the exact same way and happily accepted the impromptu proposal.

“I called up City Hall and they said, ‘If you get here in the next couple of hours, you can register and then you can get married tomorrow,’” he recalled. “So, we ran down there. We married the next day with just two witnesses, our best friends: my manager and her editor.”

Willem Dafoe children
Willem Defoe & son Jack

Willem Dafoe children

Willem Defoe and Giada do not share any children together; however, he is a dad to one son, Jack Dafoe, from his previous relationship with Elizabeth LeCompte.

“I was in a relationship for 27 years,” the Oscar nominee said. “She’s the mother of my son, but we never married because to her, marriage represented ownership and I respected that. But after a while, I was more interested in getting married than she was.”

Jack Defoe was born in 1982, Although his father has had an illustrious onscreen career, Jack chose not to be in the spotlight, preferring to work in public policy and as an environmentalist.

Although Jack likes to keep things pretty low-key and isn’t too much in the headlines or spotlight, he has accompanied his father on the red carpet on numerous occasions.

Jack has been spotted at events like the West Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars, per The Things. They’ve also attended things like the Closing Night Gala Presentation and the North American premiere of At Eternity’s Gate.

Willem Dafoe net worth

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Willem Dafoe has a net worth of around $40 million.

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Simon Kabutey
Simon Kabutey
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