Emma Stone slapped Willem Dafoe 20 times on the set of AND. How does it feel to know someone else is living your fantasy?
But Dafoe didn’t do it for love, he did it for the craft. We all know Dafoe is an unrelenting actor. For The Lighthouse, he grew a beard, learned to knit and smoked a pipe to perfect his role, but he’s also willing to go to great lengths — specifically arm lengths — for others to achieve the most captivating performance.
In a profile of Dafoe for The New York Times, Stone revealed that she slapped Dafoe 20 times while shooting a scene that Dafoe does not even appear in. The off-camera slap would ordinarily be struck against thin air, but Dafoe insisted on stepping in to achieve the most genuine gesture. He took the hit, albeit in a staged manner, 20 times before they wrapped the scene.
Little is known about the plot of AND or the scene that required Stone to slap Dafoe twenty times, but the film's director, Yorgos Lanthimos, weighed in that Dafoe’s commitment was fundamental to filming. Dafoe was also described as “self-motivating to set” in that he showed up on days he wasn’t required.
“That’s what you want from actors,” Lanthimos told The New York Times, “to want to be part of it in any way.”
And Dafoe had a hand in it all (and a Stone-sized handprint on his face).
“There’s this instinct to perform that many actors have — the ‘look at me, look at me!’ kind of performer,” Stone said. “He’s the opposite of that.”
But Dafoe conceded that his ego hasn’t always been so bare. His approach to acting has moved inward over time; as Stone put it, he went from “‘I to ‘We,’” or, as Dafoe shared, acting has become “like a spiritual thing — to find your connection with all things.”
The premiere date of the spiritual slap film has not been announced, but with Lanthimos and Stone’s last collaboration (The Favourite) earning 10 Oscars, the Greek director’s Dafoe-fronted project is highly anticipated.
Photo courtesy of BFA/ Virisa Yong
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