Willem Dafoe was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, to Muriel Isabel (Sprissler), a nurse, and Dr. William Alfred Dafoe, a surgeon. He is of German, French, English, Irish, and Scottish descent. In 1979, Dafoe was given a small role in Michael Ciminos Heavens Gate (1980) from which he was fired. His first feature role came shortly after in Kathryn Bigelows The Loveless (1981). From there, he went on to perform in over 80 films - in Hollywood (John Carter (2012), Spider-Man (2002), The English Patient (1996), Finding Nemo (2003), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), Clear and Present Danger (1994), White Sands (1992), Mississippi Burning (1988), Streets of Fire (1984), American Dreamz (2006)) and in independent cinema in the U.S. (The Clearing (2004), Animal Factory (2000), The Boondock Saints (1999), American Psycho (2000)) and abroad (Theo Angelopoulos The Dust of Time (2008), Yim Hos Pavilion of Women (2001), Yurek Bogayeviczs Edges of the Lord (2001), Wim Wenders Faraway (2011), So Close (2009), Nobuhiro Suwas segment of Paris, je taime (2006), Brian Gilberts Tom & Viv (1994), Christian Carions Farewell (2001), _Mr. Beans Holiday and The Spierig Brothers Daybreakers_, Daniel Nettheims The Hunter (2011)). He has chosen projects for diversity of roles and opportunities to work with strong directors. He has worked in the films of Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)), Martin Scorsese (The Aviator (2004), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)), Spike Lee (Inside Man (2006)), Julian Schnabel (Miral (2010), Basquiat (1996)), Paul Schrader (Auto Focus (2002), Affliction (1997), Light Sleeper (1992), The Walker (2007), Adam Resurrected (2008)), David Cronenberg (eXistenZ (1999)), Abel Ferrara (4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011), Go Go Tales (2007), New Rose Hotel (1998)), David Lynch (Wild at Heart (1990)), William Friedkin (To Live and Die in L.