An art thief breaks into a luxurious penthouse full of high-end pieces of art he’s supposed to steal, there’s only one problem – he can’t leave. in insideWillem Dafoe plays Nemo, the aforementioned art thief who finds himself trapped inside a cavernous, contemporary penthouse at the top of one of the tallest buildings in New York City. Abandoned by his partner in crime, Nemo must figure out how to survive when he realizes how stuck he really is. However, physical survival is the least of his worries. How he will keep his sanity is another question entirely.
inside Directed by Vassilis Katsopis, from a screenplay by Ben Hopkins. The movie premiered earlier this year at the Berlinale, but will expand to theaters across the US in the coming weeks.
former to insidewide release, screen rant I sat down with Dafoe to talk about the movie, including the one question everyone asked him for, what draws him to these intense roles, and whether he has a down time after filming.
Willem Dafoe inside
Screen rant: Inside It begins with the question, What three things would you keep in the fire? Nemo regrets his answer, but assuming the husband, kids, and pets are safe, what three things would you save in a fire?
Willem Dafoe: Everyone asks me this question.
truly? I thought I was on to something.
Willem Dafoe: You do what everyone else does [laughs]. I don’t have a good answer. Not in my mind.
I couldn’t think of anything either when I thought about it.
Willem Dafoe: Because first of all, I would be angry if my house caught fire. But the things I would like to take? Listen, burn it. start again. I don’t want to live in the past.
A lot of your roles go to some really tough places. Some of my favorites are Lighthouse And Antichrist. insideLikewise, it gets very dark. Do you find catharsis in these roles? What attracts you to these types of slowly going crazy characters?
Willem Dafoe: You know, I’m not sure how crazy they are. Or at least in insideI don’t think the guy is going crazy. He was forced into a situation where he had to deal with himself. Which some people call madness, but others would call it, you know, too late, and it’s healthy, and it’s not easy.
But I like the characters who catch their feet in the fire because then you won’t be so caught up in the behavior and attitude. It’s in order to survive, you put yourself out there. And I love that. I don’t like to suffer. I love comfort. I love happiness. I love peace. That’s not it. I think the way to find true peace is to ask a few questions and shake yourself up. These personalities shake themselves either because of circumstances or by their will. Those are the characters I love. I don’t like resting in character because there is nothing to play with. And I’m not talking about emotions, I’m talking about having nothing to do. They’re just a situation, and they push through the narrative.
I want to be transformed through experience. And you don’t demand that of everything, but that’s kind of what you’re looking for. And sometimes you want to get away from it. But this is the one I keep coming back to
Do you have a long cooldown after that?
Dafoe: No. You know, don’t brag. But when the camera goes away, when the situation disappears…the character gets out of the situation [and] It comes from supporting all of these things. This is when he gets out of you. And taking all these things, you come back again and want to prepare for something
Now, having said that, if it’s something you do on a regular basis for an extended period of time, yes, it will linger. This will enter your dreams. Yeah, you’re going to get into a habit, like any habit, where you’re going to reach for this thing and say, oh, that’s over now. So it happens. But psychologically, a lot of people think, oh, he can’t rock that character. I don’t really respond to that. I mean, I get that, but it just didn’t happen to me. Yes. I guess I’m always looking for the next step.
around the inside
INSIDE tells the story of Nemo, an art thief trapped in a New York penthouse apartment after his heist doesn’t go as planned. Locked inside with nothing but priceless works of art, he must use all his cunning and invention to survive.
Check back soon for our other interview of inside:
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inside Now playing in theatres.