Willem Dafoe

WILLEM DAFOE—A MAN WHO HAS PLAYED A Spider-Man villain, Vincent van Gogh and Jesus—is charming even before you meet him. In advance of our interview, his publicist suggested meeting in Abingdon Square Park, a small triangle of green space in New York’s West Village. “He’s not in New York often,” she wrote in an email, “but walking around the park/city is something he truly cherishes about it.”

The idea of cherishing anything seems almost quaintly Victorian in an age when we spend more time staring at the mini computers we keep in our pockets than looking at the world around us. But having a walk in the park—or even just sitting on a bench for an hour, with the sounds of city alive all around—is just one of the ways Dafoe lives in the moment. It’s also part of the joyful discipline he brings to his work, a vocation

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