Willem Dafoe: From UWM student to award-winning actor

Willem Dafoe was fresh out of high school and eager to learn about acting when he arrived at UWM in 1973.

He threw himself into the theater, slighting his other classes and many times sleeping in the theater building.

“I was young and very unsophisticated, but eager to train and perform,” Dafoe said.

Corliss Phillabaum, who directed Dafoe in two productions at UWM, could see right away that his student had uncommon talent. “….There was something really special about him,” Phillabaum said.