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Willem Dafoe on filming The Lighthouse with Robert Pattinson: "Our methods are very different"

Photo: David M. Benett (Getty Images)

There are some weird surface similarities between the careers of Willem Dafoe and his young The Lighthouse co-star Robert Pattinson; both men have been celebrated (albeit in different corners of the cinematic world) for playing vampires, both have ably walked a fine line between commercial projects and more purely artistic endeavors with their choices of work, and both (as of late, at least) have dabbled a bit in the superhero game. But that doesn’t mean they’re actually all that similar as people, something Dafoe laid out in a recent interview with Variety about Robert Eggers’ recent Cannes submission.

Dafoe—a bona fide professional, if ever there was one—is clear up-front that he likes Pattinson and enjoyed working with him on the film, which sees the two of them go insane together while manning an isolated lighthouse. (You can read A.A. Dowd’s Cannes dispatch on the film right here.) But he also invokes the specter of the old veteran thespian dealing with the younger method actor, detailing Pattinson’s dislike of rehearsals, and his worry about giving something of his performance away before the cameras started rolling. “We’re different,” he said, a portrait of congenial diplomacy. “And the truth is, because our methods were different, they sort of mirrored the differences in the characters. If it was a problem, I’m sure Rob Eggers would have corrected it. But in fact, he liked the tension and difference.” 

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In fact, the only moment when Dafoe seems to let his more mischievous side out to play is when interviewr Marc Malkin brings up Pattinson’s recent decision to play the Dark Knight in Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman. “Listen, sure: Why not?” Dafoe rhetorically asks, clearly amused at the images said casting invokes. “He’s got a strong chin.”

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