Dafoe scores fourth Academy Award nomination

UWM alum Willem Dafoe was nominated Tuesday for an Academy Award for his leading role as painter Vincent Van Gogh in the film “At Eternity’s Gate.”

Willem Dafoe stares off to the left with a blue sky behind him.
Willem Dafoe is drawing raves and nominations for his portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh in “At Eternity’s Gate.” (CBS Films)

The nomination is the fourth Oscar nod for Dafoe, who first began learning the acting craft while attending UWM in the early 1970s. Dafoe was previously nominated three times for Oscars as best supporting actor, for “The Florida Project,” “Shadow of the Vampire” and “Platoon.”

The Academy Awards will be broadcast Feb. 24 on ABC.

Dafoe also was nominated for a Golden Globe this year but lost to Rami Malek for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Dafoe quickly made a mark at UWM with highly praised performances in “Phaedra,” a 17th century French tragedy by Jean Racine, and Eugene O’Neill’s “A Moon for the Misbegotten.”

Eager to start his professional acting career, Dafoe left UWM to become part of Theatre X, which started as a UWM faculty-student workshop and then became an independent experimental theater company. He later left for stage opportunities in New York and then a film career, but he remembers his time at UWM fondly.

“My time at UWM was a very formative and positive experience,” he said.

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