≡ Menu

Willem Dafoe Quotes

William James Dafoe

Willem Dafoe quotes: on how to do your best work, the secret of all great performances, his thoughts on money as a motivator and more.

“Don’t spit on your luck.”

“Action breeds inspiration more than inspiration breeds action.”

“You have to have courage to stay in a situation that frightens you.  And then you’ll learn that fear isn’t dangerous.”

“All the time you want to be asking what’s next and where things are going.  If you’re not asking those questions, you’re not growing.”

“My father used to say, ‘You don’t deserve it if you can’t take care of it.'”

“If you get stuck and it feels a little stiff, then you do have to mess it up to find it.  But other times it’s really written and you just stick to your guns and do it as elegantly and as concentrated and as committed as you can.”

“You have to lose yourself to find yourself.”

“I think on some level, you do your best things when you’re a little off-balance, a little scared.  You’ve got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing.”

“If you call it a risk, it’s probably not a risk.”

“It’s never one or the other.  It’s always that balance between control and abandon.  How much control, and how much do you let it go?  You’re always regulating between the two.”

“When you have something to work with, then you fly with it.”

“Feeling secure or feeling pleasure is overrated.  Sometimes things that are very awkward or when you’re off-balance are the most interesting things.”

“When you feel lost and you feel uncomfortable, be brave and take the leap anyway – even though you don’t feel comfortable.  Sometimes it’s better to just do it – just do it and not wait to be comfortable.”

“The worst thing is to get involved with people who aren’t passionate about what they’re doing.”

“There’s a real wisdom to not saying a thing.”

“Corruption is something you face all the time.  Avoid it.”

“The things that you worry about aren’t the things you should worry about.  The things that you don’t worry about are the things you should worry about.”

“I set myself challenges every time I work.  Ideally I approach everything as though it’s the first time – with a beginner’s mind and an amateur’s love.”

“I want to work with people who are good at what they do, and people who are passionate.”

“The people who can have careers are those willing to do what has been pre-sold, pre-advertised and pre-thought.  Their job is to make the product.  That weeds out auteurs and any people with a personal vision.”

“Performing is about developing empathy, which leads us to a broader view of the world and encourages us to develop compassion; so we can comfort each other and not be so brutal with each other.”

“When I was a kid I was very interested in the idea of the will, finding out what you’re capable of.  I liked those kind of challenges.”

“I was born in 1955, in Appleton, Wisconsin – primarily a paper mill town.  I grew up with Eisenhower.  It was a Republican kind of area.  It wasn’t a bad upbringing.  People were hardworking and good, but I always had the sense there was a bigger world out there that I would feel more comfortable in.  I knew, even as a child.”

“My training is really from doing.  Ever since I was about 18 years old, I’ve been working at a theater.  I was there every day.  It was not traditional theater but a company where we were always generating work.  When we were not generating work, we were running the theater or planning a tour.  That was my school.”

“I favor a community of people that is more interested in what they do than how much they make – what’s sexy to them is their work, not their houses and their pools and all that kind of thing.”

“One of the pleasures of being an actor is quite simply taking a walk in someone else’s shoes.  And when I look at the roles I’ve played, I’m kind of amazed at all the wonderful adventures I’ve had and the different things I’ve learned.”

“At some point when I do a role, I feel like I’m the only guy to do it.  Nobody else should be doing this.  You always gotta get to that place where you own it.”

“I am confident only when I am constantly in motion.  Between projects, the doubt creeps in.”

“I think, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to be more reckless with my choices, because, practically speaking, you get less careful.  Your choices become more instinctive, and you feel like if you make a mistake, it won’t destroy you.”

“It’s fair to say that if you have a lot of experience, your power is greater.  You have more of an opportunity to roll up your sleeves.”

“Celebrity is okay as long as you know it’s not about you.”

“Of course the devil could tempt me.  What he could offer me would be that state where you disappear into an action.  When you disappear into doing.  It’s the sensation that I seek over and over again.  When you’re in motion and doing something and the world drops away and you become that thing.  I would take that if I could sustain that forever.”

“I think you do your best when you’re doing it for someone else.  Think of when you’re first in love, what power that gives you.  You’re like Superman because you’re doing it for someone else.”

“Weirdness is not my game.  I’m just a square boy from Wisconsin.”

“Some people think I’m quite odd-looking.  Some think I’m handsome.  Some people think I’m ugly.  What can I say?”

“I don’t think people want to see me as a regular guy.  Besides, I’m a regular guy in real life.  I guess I just want to be reckless in my work.”

“I’m no different to anyone else; I want people to like me.  I just don’t particularly want them to understand me.”

“My job is to do what interests me and do it well.”

“I’ve had lots of wonderful opportunities.”

Tackle Tom Hanks quotes next.

Cory Johnson: CEO of a business he has yet to launch. As seen on your mom’s phone. Scaled to 7-figures in seven seconds selling a course on selling courses. Kidding. Watch this.