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Who are Willem Dafoe’s parents Muriel and William and does he have any siblings?

Willem Dafoe is an American actor. Known for his diverse roles in film, He has frequently collaborated with filmmakers Paul Schrader, Abel Ferrara, Lars von Trier, Julian Schnabel, Wes Anderson, and Robert Eggers.

Dafoe was a founding member of experimental theater company The Wooster Group. He made his film debut in Heaven’s Gate (1980), but was fired during production and was uncredited despite one of his scenes making it into the final cut of the film.

Dafoe’s early roles include in The Loveless (1982), Streets of Fire (1984), and To Live and Die in L.A. (1985). He earned his first Academy Award nomination for the war drama Platoon (1986) followed by Shadow of the Vampire (2000), the indie-drama The Florida Project (2017), and the biopic At Eternity’s Gate (2018).

He earned acclaim for his roles as Jesus Christ in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and FBI agent Alan Ward in Mississippi Burning (1988). His other notable roles include in Clear and Present Danger (1994), The English Patient (1996), American Psycho (2000), Finding Nemo (2003), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Antichrist (2009), The Fault in Our Stars (2014), John Wick (2014), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), The Lighthouse (2019), The French Dispatch (2021), Nightmare Alley (2021), The Northman (2022), and Poor Things (2023).

Willem Dafoe gained wider attention for his role as the supervillain Norman Osborn / Green Goblin in the superhero film Spider-Man (2002), a role he reprised in its sequels Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007), and the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). He also portrayed Nuidis Vulko in the DC Extended Universe film Aquaman (2018) and Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021).

willem dafoe
Willem Dafoe

Dafoe has received numerous accolades including nominations for four Academy Awards, a BAFTA Award, four Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and four Screen Actors Guild Awards.

He has received four Independent Spirit Award nominations winning twice for Best Supporting Male for his roles in Shadow of the Vampire (2000), and The Florida Project (2017).

Over his career he has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the following performances:

59th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor, nomination, Platoon (1986)
73rd Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor, nomination, Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
90th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor, nomination, The Florida Project (2017)
91st Academy Awards: Best Actor, nomination, At Eternity's Gate (2018)

On January 8, 2024, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But what do we know about his family? Here’s the lowdown.

willem dafoe
Willem Dafoe family details

Who are Willem Dafoe’s parents?

Willem was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, to Muriel Isabel and William Alfred Dafoe. Willem Dafoe father is was a physician who studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard Medical School.

While in medical school, Papa Dafoe met his wife, Muriel – a nursing student at the time; they were married secretly after a few years of courtship (because nurses-in-training at that time were not allowed to marry before graduation) and the young married couple relocated to Rochester, Minnesota where William got advanced surgical training at the Mayo Clinic.

William was highly trained as a surgeon but to his patients, he was their beloved family doctor. Above his career achievements, family was his greatest joy. He enjoyed his life as a husband and raised his kids in a love and fun-filled household.

Willem Dafoe mother was a nurse who worked by her husband’s side in his office for many years but later majored in anthropology from UW-Oshkosh after her kids were grown. Just like her husband, her children were the source of her greatest happiness.

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

Does Willem Dafoe have any siblings?

Yes, Willem Dafoe, the American actor, has seven siblings. Their names are: Donald Dafoe, Richard Dafoe
Nancy Christiansen, Jane Lambie, Diane Fredrickson, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and 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 children
Willem Defoe & son Jack

Willem Dafoe family members

Father: Dr. William Alfred Dafoe

Mother: Muriel Isabel

Siblings: Donald Dafoe, Richard Dafoe, Nancy Christiansen, Jane Lambie, Diane Fredrickson, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and Sarah Holbrook

Children: Jack Dafoe

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Simon Kabutey
Simon Kabutey
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