WILLEM DAFOE MOVES MOUNTAINS WITH WORDS TO IMPRESS DIRECTOR
Willem Dafoe has never been a thrillseeker, by his own admission, yet an Australian director convinced him he was the perfect man for her movie about mountains.
Jennifer Peedom, the director behind the awardwinning documentary Sherpa, had already teamed up with the Australian Chamber Orchestra for the film Mountain.
Peedom had incredible footage accompanied by original and existing music by the ACO, but the film was missing the right voice, until Dafoe came along.
‘‘I’m not a mountain guy. But the text was beautiful and the images were beautiful and I liked how Jen approached me and I thought ‘yes, I could do this’,’’ Dafoe said.
Dafoe, an actor known for being equally at home in a David Lynch movie or a superhero epic, initially didn’t share Peedom’s interest in the world’s most beautiful and treacherous peaks.
‘‘I didn’t grow up around mountains, I never climbed them. I’ve been high up in Mexico and Colorado and places like that but I’ve never really been a mountain guy and I’m not an extreme sports guy. But mountains, particularly as seen through this text — yes, I am a mountain guy. I’ll contradict myself,’’ he said.
With the movie, Peedom wanted to capture that feeling she’d often had while making documentaries such as Sherpa and Miracle On Everest.
‘‘Another collaborator on this project was the wonderful writer Robert Macfarlane, and I had read his book Mountains of the Mind many years earlier when I was climbing, because I was grappling with these ideas of ‘why, why am I drawn to these risky environments?’, and his book just expresses it so beautifully. So I sought him out and luckily he said yes so we brought the words in,’’ Peedom said.
The director was then left to find someone who could give the British writer’s words the weight they deserved.
When her agent suggested Willem Dafoe, who was on the Gold Coast filming Aquaman, Peedom was quick to say yes.
While originally he may not have been a ‘‘mountain guy’’, Dafoe felt moved by Macfarlane’s words and the images Peedom had gathered depicting skiers, climbers and extreme sports people atop the world’s highest peaks.
‘‘I really responded to the images, spectacular, beautiful. The text was very evocative for me and something I could get behind, and challenging because you’re speaking from a place where you’re speaking for the people you’re watching doing these extraordinary things, but you’re in a little studio,’’ Dafoe said. ● Mountain is in cinemas from September 21
Right voice: American actor Willem Dafoe was moved by the beautiful mountain imagery and evocative and challenging text of Australian director Jennifer Peedom’s documentary Mountain, which is in cinemas from September 21.