Everybody knows something about Vincent Van Gogh, but Willem Dafoe brings new life and new perspective to this enigmatic artist in AT ETERNITY’S GATE. IndieWire calls the film “an impressionistic masterwork,” and Variety raves, “Dafoe’s acting is a tour de force.”
Dafoe heard that director Julian Schnabel wanted to make a film about Van Gogh, and he asked Dafoe to read a biography on the artist. Next thing he knew, Dafoe was having a fake beard attached to his face for a photoshoot as Van Gogh, and his involvement in the film was a go.
Schnabel brought a strong vision to the film, but with room to collaborate, which Dafoe describes as “the ideal situation” for filmmaking. But becoming Van Gogh was a new challenge for Dafoe, since “there are no stunt painters” he states. He elaborates on that here:
“Its not just about painting, its about seeing everything… Van Gogh was seeing through things into the invisible,” says Dafoe. In this clip, he elaborates on what it was like to tap into Van Gogh’s perspective:
Willem Dafoe took home a Best Actor win at the Venice Film Festival for his performance as Van Gogh, and as he says, he seeks to lose himself in his performance(s), which he certainly did in this case. Having the opportunity to film in places where Van Gogh’s iconic pieces were created made the experience even more ideal for Dafoe:
“You’ve got to submit to an experience to be changed,” says Dafoe. Dafoe was changed by being Van Gogh, and audiences will no doubt be changed by seeing his performance.
About the film:
Academy Award nominee Julian Schnabel’s AT ETERNITY’S GATE is a journey inside the world and mind of a person who, despite skepticism, ridicule and illness, created some of the world’s most beloved and stunning works of art. This is not a forensic biography, but rather scenes based on Vincent van Gogh’s (Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe) letters, common agreement about events in his life that present as facts, hearsay, and moments that are just plain invented.
View the trailer:
Where to see it: