22 Growing up in a roadside motel
Weekend, October 13-15, 2017 Willem Dafoe on startling reality in The Florida Project Movies
Portraying the manager of an Orlando budget motel may have been make-believe for Oscarnominated actor Willem Dafoe, but filming The Florida Project was eerily steeped in reality.
“Even when we were shooting, they were renting part of the motel out to tourists,” laughed Dafoe during a recent interview. “We’d be preparing a scene and they’d be ‘we got to let them through — these people are checking in!’”
It is exactly that brash authenticity that has The Florida Project earning accolades ever since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festi- val last month. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Sean Baker (Tangerine), the realist drama focuses on a stretch of roadside budget motels that shelter impoverished, homeless families just on the outskirts of the extravagant Walt Disney World Resort.
“There are probably dozens and dozens,” admitted Dafoe of the number of low-cost inns that allow the “hidden homeless” such long-term temporary arrangements. “Sean gave me the names of all the places and he’d say this one’s really bad, this one’s medium and he’d also say, this one they won’t want you at so you’ve got to be really discreet how you case the place — but there were quite a few because he only gave me the best ones for research.”
The highly anticipated movie’s setting isn’t the only aspect with a strong link to realism either. A fixture in films for over 35 years, Dafoe was forced to adjust to working with a large group of amateur thespians and non-actors.
Most notably surrounded by a cast of inexperienced pre-teens who lead audiences through this squalid world with open, innocent eyes, Dafoe admits his patience was often tested when acting opposite the precocious, undisciplined kids. SPONSORED CONTENT
“Of course they don’t know camera and they can’t repeat things but they’re very present,” admitted Dafoe of his juvenile co-stars. “Sometimes it wasn’t easy but that kind of paralleled my character — he loves these kids but he also wants to strangle them. And ya, that was about right.” fox hill CHEESE
willem Dafoe stars alongside Brooklynn Prince in the Florida Project, a film about impoverished families living in motels on the outskirts of Orlando’s Disney world resort.