Willem Dafoe had FOMO on the fall festival circuit.
The star of Venice’s Golden Lion winner “Poor Things” led four films between Venice, Telluride, and TIFF but TIFF-premiering “Gonzo Girl” is the only film with a SAG-AFTRA strike waiver that allows for Dafoe to promote it; hence, TIFF is the only festival the actor was in attendance for.
Dafoe told Vanity Fair that it “broke” his heart to not be present for the premieres of all the respective films, including “Poor Things,” “Pet Shop Days,” and “Finally Dawn.”
“To be in Venice with three films and not be able to go broke my heart,” Dafoe said. “But then I thought, ‘Is it just because you want to have a good time?’ I live in Italy and it’s exciting to see friends, it’s exciting to dress up. ‘Does the film fly or not in real time?’ That’s fun.”
He continued, “It’s important for talent to get involved, particularly the independent films — it’s important. That’s why I’m so grateful to hear that we got an interim agreement (for ‘Gonzo Girl’). And the word on that of course is, if a little independent company can do it, why can’t a big studio? But I feel bad that I wasn’t able to go to Venice.”
Dafoe addressed the conversation around actors attending festivals amid the SAG strike even with interim agreements.
“I think we’ve got to keep it going,” Dafoe said. “I get their strategy, but I also think sometimes particularly hardcore industry people, they don’t think about the world enough, the world market. If we don’t participate in these film festivals, if we don’t participate in the selling of movies abroad, before you know it, we’re all going to be watching German action movies. Since we’re here with the blessings of SAG, I don’t know why someone wouldn’t come if they had an interim agreement. I know a lot of people didn’t. I guess they’d feel like it’s not showing solidarity, but SAG endorses it and it’s encouraging. So no, I didn’t feel strange.”
Dafoe concluded, “I feel stranger than (when) I’m not working because I had some things that I wanted to do very badly and who knows if they’ll get back up again. Then I sit myself down and say, ‘Don’t be selfish. Don’t think about yourself, think about the future.’ Clearly there are some things to work out. I never talked about what I do as a business, but the business around what I do has changed so much where stuff has to be addressed. The proliferation of the middleman and all kinds of things, and profits up and salaries down. I don’t do it for the money. But you can only get screwed so much.”