Pedro Pascal chose one of Hollywood’s finest talents to honor him as the “greatest American actor” of our time.
The individual in question is an industry titan whose reputation for adaptability is unshakeable. In fact, he demonstrates his versatile attributes with how varied his endeavors tend to be. How he has found himself among the select handful who have enjoyed a tenure in both DCEU and MCU best exemplifies the sentiment.
From arthouse to indie, and classics to commercial blockbusters—this man has dabbled in most fronts and excelled in them, too. We are, of course, talking about the brilliant Willem Dafoe.
Earlier this month, Pedro Pascal paid tribute to Dafoe during the latter’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, referring to the legendary actor as his “greatest teacher.” The Narcos alum also delved into an anecdote revolving around the veteran star’s mind-blowing, heart-wrenching performance in Platoon (1986). It resulted in a young Pascal crying so much that he was banished to the bathroom by his father!
Pedro Pascal Believes Willem Dafoe Is “The Greatest American Actor In Our Lifetime”
A few weeks ago, Willem Dafoe received the inaugural Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2024 as a mark of honor. Throughout his illustrious career, Dafoe has appeared in over one hundred films and portrayed various characters in an extensive spectrum of genres, earning him widespread praise on a global scale. Pedro Pascal, who co-starred alongside the veteran actor in The Great Wall, paid tribute to the recipient.
In his heartfelt statement (via EW), The Last of Us alum declared the Spider-Man star his “greatest teacher.” He also shared a fascinating account of what happened to him after seeing Platoon (1986), in which Dafoe played Sgt. Elias. A then-10-year-old Pedro Pascal went to the movie theatre with his father. What happened next is that the Narcos alum wept so much after watching the now-68-year-old’s heart-rending character portrayal that he was sent out of the screening!
“I’m gonna go off [the] book just for a second: I saw Platoon in the movie theater with my father, and [Dafoe] made me cry so hard my dad sent me to the bathroom.”
Only a few performances can warrant such a reaction, and Pascal’s anecdote demonstrates the on-screen capabilities Dafoe seemingly mastered from the get-go. Over the years, his skills have only been further polished, and the acting credits he boasts in his rich filmography speak for it.
Continuing his homage, Pedro Pascal affirmed his appreciation for the Poor Things star:
“He redefines the concept of rebel and originality by making it about generosity, integrity, kindness, and fun. Willem is a good time and an amazing friend. […] He has been my greatest teacher. I’ll go as far to say he is the greatest American actor in our lifetime. You cannot compare his career to anyone’s, truthfully.”
And the 48-year-old Chilean-American actor wouldn’t be wrong to claim so. Among the many talents to grace the theatre screens, Dafoe’s prolific, exuberant career has shown that his knack for bringing forth a bold, innovative, and eclectic flair can breathe life into some of the most iconic characters of pop-culture history. And although many may know him for his portrayal of the morally skewed, he is anything but a one-trick pony.
The actor’s capacity to uphold his variety has also allowed him to participate in superhero projects. And that might be why audiences have seen Willem Dafoe in both Marvel and DC live-action movies!
Willem Dafoe Has Starred In Both Marvel And DC Initiatives
Besides starring in arthouse and indie endeavors, Dafoe never shied away from taking head-on the opportunities of starring in superhero films. While he did express his reservations against some aspects of such franchise productions (via CinemaBlend), he was never one to turn his back without giving it a short first. It contrasts those Hollywood talents who neither prescribe nor endorse such initiatives.
His portrayal of the iconic comic book villain Norman Osborn, also known as Green Goblin, in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy from the 2000s brought him international recognition, and the character has since come to be heavily associated with the actor. Years after his initial outing, he returned to the role in the MCU’s Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021).
Here, Dafoe proved why his iteration of the antagonist will remain forever etched in pop-culture history as the definitive and why potential successors can never outdo him.
Besides the Marvel side of the business, Willem Dafoe has also appeared in DCEU. He portrayed Nuidis Vulko in Aquaman (2018) and Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021). His stint in the pivotal role as Arthur Curry’s mentor was cut short after helmer James Wan confirmed that the actor couldn’t participate in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) due to scheduling problems.
The recent release ultimately alluded to Vulko’s off-screen death. The reason? He perished because of a plague caused by heavy pollution. This signaled Dafoe’s ta-ta from the franchise. With the James Gunn-pioneered DCU reboot underway, it doesn’t seem like the actor’s involvement in DCEU’s parting effort would have made much of a difference.
Whether Dafoe returns to superhero franchises anytime soon remains to be seen. Many have yearned for his iteration of a live-action Joker, but could those dreams ever be fulfilled? Only time can tell. Superhero movies or not—the four-time Oscar-nominated actor will nevertheless continue to enthrall audiences worldwide.