April 28, 2003

A few months ago, I put up an FAQ for awhile that, among other things, talked about a few tricks readers have pulled in order to convince me to fall in love with their favorite guy and make him a Boyfriend. Sometimes those suggestions are for guys I don't really know anything about. But if a reader talks enough about the guy, I'll get intrigued and start looking into it. I keep a running list of reader suggestions, too, keeping track of the number of requests I get for each name. Periodically when I'm running low on personal inspiration, I grab a name from the list and start doing research, hoping a spark will spark and I'll have a new flame to talk about soon. Nobody's requests ever go unread or unpondered. Not even the requests for guys who are dead (though, as you know, the only qualification that I will not bend on is that the Boyfriend has to be alive -- dinner dates with the dead, while being interesting in an abstract supernatural kind of way, just aren't really my sort of thing).

But sometimes, a reader can be so obsessive that it becomes literally impossible to put off featuring their guy any longer. I have to take his name off the bottom of my list and push it up to the top, just to keep them from driving me nuts. This was true, for example, of Matthew Perry's number one fan, who sent me email almost every day for weeks that just featured his name, in all-caps, repeating about a bazillion times per message, along with a personal plea at the top and bottom. She was so persistent, I just had to give her Matthew Perry. Had to. Both as a reward for her dedication, and as a means to keep myself from going absolutely insane from the prodding. Not that I minded doing it, of course. I already liked Matthew Perry a lot, even though I wouldn't really classify myself as a fan of "Friends." And this is important to note, by the way, because all the messages in the world won't help you if the guy you keep suggesting is, say, Donald Rumsfeld. Even if you do make me laugh by calling him "Rumsfeldelicious."

It had been awhile since anyone had gotten very creative with their requests, though, and I was kind of settling into a pattern wherein I was primarily just featuring guys who struck me personally and not featuring very many guys specifically requested by others (think Gary Jules, Steve Valentine, etc.). And then all of a sudden, I started getting messages from "Eve." Who takes her affection for Willem Dafoe extremely seriously.

Okay, actually, "extremely seriously" does not at all describe anything that Eve does in regards to Willem Dafoe. Which is precisely why, ultimately, Willem got bumped from about number 35 on my list to number 1. Eve has been cracking me up for weeks now -- sending me stories about me and Willem, usually starting with romantic dinners and ending with Willem in tears, sobbing and screaming outside my hotel window in desperation as I prepare to leave him for another man. Yet again. The stories have been so creative and outrageously hilarious, that I finally had to start adding Willem movies to my queue at Netflix.com. Because after reading her messages for so long, not only was I convinced Willem was the man for me, but I felt like I owed Eve a big favor. She's been keeping me quite entertained lately and her messages tend to come at the perfect moments -- when I'm having a bad day, for example, and can really use the laugh.

As a sample, here is Eve's latest missive regarding Willem. In this one, the "typhoon of trouble" sentence had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes (what it reminded me of were those lit contests they have periodically where people are supposed to write bad Faulkner-esque stories -- know what I mean?). Also, I have to confess, I love being called a "trollop." I think "trollop" might be one of my favorite words of all time (though, "sheeshkabob," a word I just learned from another reader, is currently at the top of my favorite word list this week -- been a banner week for hilarious messages from readers, by the way). I also chuckled at the jabs about it taking me seven weeks to get a guy up lately. So embarrassingly true. Eve! You rule! Okay, so, here's the letter:

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Dear Hussy,

I am just writing to let you know that you have officially revoked all reason for me to live. Willem is proposing to you today! (There, I've spoiled the surprise! Ha! Now you'll never have the joy of a shock engagement announcement from the dearest man on earth, whom you haven't even dated. You'll have to settle for acting surprised. I hope you choke on your pound cake after the lovely candlelit dinner he's serving you. There, I even ruined the surprise dessert.)

As you know, the man's been after you for months. I succeeded, for a while, in convincing him that he should actually go out with someone who worships him -- me. How happy we were, laughing and dancing, gazing into each other's eyes on the moonlit shores of some distant beach...

But like a typhoon of trouble from a distant seastorm of dark desire, you blew apart our happy love with your seductive gusts and man-stealing gale force winds. Willem dumped me so that he could spend his time writing you love poems (did you even read them, or were you to busy aquiring and dumping Boyfriends at a weekly or semi-weekly rate?) and crying about how lost and lonely he feels in this world all alone without you. (That, frankly, was just embarrassing to watch.)

No one will ever, ever be able to repair my shattered heart. Well, I wouldn't stop Owen Wilson if he wanted to try. But that's not the point. The point is, through your sheer, overpowering Megginess, you've captured the heart of our lovely Willem and carelessly led him on for months and months and months, inspiring his paroxysms of despair as he waits for you and keeping his heart encased in a layer of ice so that those of us who would love to love him can't get near enough to his frozen heart to melt away the barrier with the warmth of our love and devotion.

So go ahead, take him! Date him all week, for all I care! Heck, leave him up for seven weeks while you do "research" on your next conquest, you trollop! Once he's fulfilled his dream of love for you and you've cruelly cast him aside, perhaps he'll finally allow me to soothe away the Meg-burn you've left on his heart, and he and I can be happily in love at last.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I can hear Willem outside my door, probably come for comfort and encouragement that he may yet win you. I can hear him sniffling. I hope you're proud of yourself.

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The truly handy part of this whole thing is the fact that I've been a gigantic fan of Willem Dafoe's for at least a decade, maybe even longer (hard to remember when it was that I first saw "The Last Temptation of Christ," but I'm thinking it was in late high school, which actually means it's been more like 15 years. Oh god, I AM OLD!). So, making him a Boyfriend was an ultimate plan all along. And even though I wouldn't go so far as to say Willem Dafoe is gorgeous, he's got one of those faces that is attractive in a way that's hard to describe. It's a moody face, expressive. And it's not classically handsome, but it has features that are high up on my list of favorite facial details, like the crinkly eyes and the messy hair and the devious grin.

Far, far apart from looks, though, is where you'll find what really attracts me to Willem. He's just SO damn cool. He's so smart, so talented. He's exactly the guy of guy I would really enjoy hanging out with. You just know that an hour with Willem Dafoe is going to be an extremely interesting time. And when it comes to long-term relationships, I prefer brains over brawn anyway.

There are a gazillion great Willem Dafoe movies, and I hardly know where to begin when it comes to talking about films of his that I've loved. Of course, there are the standards: "The Last Temptation of Christ," which was highly controversial, for a reason I never quite understood (it's one of the most deeply Christian stories I've ever encountered -- the only way I can explain why so many Christians are against it is that they just must never have actually SEEN it (or read the novel). No other explanation makes a shred of sense to me); "The English Patient," a gorgeous film in many ways; and "Platoon," which last week I said I wasn't sure I was up for watching right now, but which I went ahead and watched anyway. I think it's got my favorite Willem-related line in any movie ever, which comes when Elias (Willem's character) has just walked off after an argument with another soldier, who then mutters, "Been in the bush three years and thinks he's Jesus Fuckin' Christ." "Platoon" came out a few years before "Temptation," but I still love the irony of that retort.

So, yeah, I watched all three of those for research first. And then I picked and chose a few I hadn't ever gotten around to seeing. The first was "White Sands," a thriller about a cop who goes undercover for the Feds and gets himself into a serious disaster. Pretty decent little movie, though my attention started to wander towards the end.

Next came "Boondock Saints," in which Willem plays a somewhat quirky (okay, really quirky) (no, actually, in fact, let's just ditch "quirky" and go with "nuts" instead) Feebie on the trail of two Irish lads who kill bad guys by night (vigilante-justice style) and hang out nekkid a lot by day (all hail the really nice upper body of future Boyfriend Sean Patrick Flannery!). Willem gets to use his devious grin a lot in this one, which makes me happy even though his character didn't hang out nekkid nearly as much as he ought to have.

After that came "American Psycho," which I'd seen before and which I still can't believe I watched AGAIN, although I'm glad in some ways that I did, because I couldn't remember anything about Willem in this film (blinded by the bloodshed) and it turns out he plays a cop who is really very sweet. (Do I win an award for that run-on, or what?) The other characters, however -- including ex-Boyfriend Josh Lucas -- are, well, uh, not so sweet. In fact, the ones who aren't stuck-up yuppie bastards are downright. . .quirky. Okay, seriously quirky. No, actually, in fact, let's just ditch "quirky" and go with "THE DEVIL" instead. Yeah, that's better. Do not watch this one after eating a large meal. Trust me on this.

Okay, then, finally came "Tom and Viv," in which Willem plays T. S. Eliot. I both liked and disliked this one for reasons that are neither here nor there. And that's the funniest thing I have to say about "Tom and Viv."

Now, before everybody emails to tell me I forgot to watch their favorite Willem Dafoe movie, here's a list of ones I didn't need to rent because I've already seen them and remember Willem quite clearly in each. If your movie isn't on this list, then you can drop me a line. Movies are in chronological order and are rated using the Smooch Scale (TM), according to Willem's kissability in each film.

The Hunger (1983): "2nd Phone Booth Youth." A bit part, but I love this movie. 3 smooches.

Mississippi Burning (1988): "Agent Ward." Extremely powerful film about the Civil Rights Movement. 4 smooches. Actually, 5 if my lips aren't too chapped.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989): "Charlie." Another extremely powerful film, this time about Vietnam vets. Totally 4 smooches.

Body of Evidence (1993): "Frank Dulaney." Why oh why did Willem take this part, opposite the Worst Actress in the World, also simply known as "Madonna"? But regardless of the fact this is a terrible movie, Willem's pretty sexy in it. So, 2 smooches. Are better than no smooches.

Clear and Present Danger (1994): "John Clark." One of the Jack Ryan/Tom Clancy flicks. Willem's the bad guy! I love it when Willem's the bad guy! 4 smooches.

Basquiat (1996): "The Electrician." I liked this movie quite a bit, though mostly because I so appreciated the fact they got Yo La Tengo to play The Velvet Underground. Willem's part is small, but highly kissworthy. 4 smooches.

Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997): "John Geiger." This movie got some of the worst reviews EVER. So, I never bothered to rent it until about 2 months ago when I started doing Willem research. What the heck is the big deal? It's not THAT bad. And Willem's a sexy bad guy again in this one too. So, 2.5 smooches for this one.

eXistenZ (1999): "Gas." I LOVE this movie. 4 smooches.

Animal Factory (2000): "Earl Copen." Prison movie. Not too bad. 3 smooches.

Shadow of the Vampire (2000): "Max Schreck." Great film, but Nosferatu really isn't what I'd call "kissable." 4 stars, no smooches.

Spider-Man (2002): "The Green Goblin." Highly entertaining and Willem made the most smooch-worthy Green Goblin I've ever seen, hands-down. He even did his own stunts, which earns him an extra peck on the cheek right there. 4 smooches.

Okay, that's it. I haven't seen "Auto Focus" yet, but it's on my list of things to do. Feel free to email me if you loved or hated it. I'm always happy to get a heads-up on these things.

Quickly, a bio: Willem was born on July 22, 1955 in Appleton, Wisconsin. His real name is William, by the way -- Billy was his first nickname, but in high school, his pals started calling him "Willem," and that's the nickname that ended up getting stuck. When he was a teen, Willem became involved with Milwaukie's experimental Theater X troupe, where the acting bug bit him firmly on the bee-hind. In 1977, he gave up local theater and moved to New York to pursue a serious career. There, he married his girlfriend Elizabeth LeCompte (they are still married, though obviously he's thinking about leaving her for me) and joined the avant-garde theater company, "Wooster Group." Following an inauspicious movie debut in "Heaven's Gate" (1980), Willem started making a slow transition from stage to screen. His role in William Friedkin's "To Live and Die in LA" threw Willem into the limelight and he was cast in the movie that made him a star, "Platoon," a year later (a part for which he eventually received an Academy Award nomination).

Up next for Willem are three films. The first is a cartoon called "Finding Nemo," for which I recently saw a trailer. Looks cute. The second, a western crime drama starring Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp, is due out pretty soon (it's already had at least one film festival screening, according to the IMDB). It's called "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," and is about an infamous drug lord named Barrillo (Dafoe) who pretends to overthrow the Mexican government, getting a corrupt CIA agent (Depp) all het up and on his trail. Could be exciting. Hard to say. Finally, we'll be seeing Willem as the star of "The Clearing," a thriller co-starring Robert Redford and Helen Mirren. Oh, and Matt Craven, who is an actor I really like, even though he's almost never in anything good. This is either a sign that Matt is moving up in the Hollywood world (hope so), or a sign that Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, and Willem are all moving down (hope not). Hmmm.

Regardless, I'm happy to see Willem's career continues to keep him busy with a myriad of roles, many of which do not seem to require shirts. Keep up the good work, Willem! Dafoe may not be the most classically handsome actor in America today, but he is, in my opinion, the most talented one. Yes, you heard me right there - out of all the actors in America, I think Willem Dafoe is the most talented. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Or don't - carcinogens and whatnot. Anyway, Willem Dafoe is a smooth genius, ladies. He deserves everything he has, and more. Plus at least one more Academy Award nomination. And at least one lengthy dinner date avec moi. Preferably soon. Like, tonight. I'm free! And in the book!


MacGyver Factor Score: 98.724% Major points for Willem because he never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think he could never possibly play a part any better than that last part he just played (ya follow?), he goes and one-ups his own self. Was that the most poorly constructed sentence you've ever read? Or did that run-on I wrote earlier take that award as well? You see? This crush on Willem Dafoe has my brain all muddled up. That's a really good sign.

Thanks also to Eve for loaning me her crush for a week. I promise to return Willem to you (mostly) intact in about seven days. You know, or seven weeks. Depending.


Boyfriend-Related Links

The Willem Dafoe Fan Page
The Willem Dafoe Fan Page, Take Two
Willem Dafoe: The Unofficial Web Site
Willem's IMDB Page


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