Willem Dafoe went to mortician school in preparation for his role in Yorgos Lanthimos’ surrealist science fantasy Poor Things.
When an actor plays a role in a movie, they typically do a little research into their character. Some may even get some real-world experience in the character’s profession, but I can’t imagine that many actor’s have gone to mortician school. According to Empire, that’s precisely what Willem Dafoe did in preparation for Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things.
Willem Dafoe plays Dr. Godwin Baxter in Poor Things, an eccentric scientist who brings Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) back to life. Along with Ramy Youssef, Dafoe went to mortician school to get some experience slicing, stitching, and all the things one needs to bring a dead body back to life. “It was like: ‘Mark’s going to accent class, Emma is going to dance class, and then me and Willem are going to hang with the mortician, and we’ll link back up at lunch’,” Youssef said. “It felt like a college campus. Willem got really focused on it. I’d be joking around, stitching something up – I kind of had a knack for it because my hands are a little bit smaller, I was able to get in there – and Willem would be like, ‘What the f**k?’ But once he got it, he really got it better than me.“
Based on the novel by Alasdair Gray, Poor Things was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos from a screenplay by Tony McNamara. The film tells “the incredible tale and fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter. Under Baxter’s protection, Bella is eager to learn. Hungry for the worldliness she is lacking, Bella runs off with Duncan Wedderburn, a slick and debauched lawyer, on a whirlwind adventure across the continents. Free from the prejudices of her times, Bella grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation.“
In addition to Emma Stone, Ramy Youseff, and Willem Dafoe, Poor Things also stars Mark Ruffalo, Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Abbot, and Margaret Qualley. The film was originally set to hit theaters on September 8th, but Searchlight Pictures recently pushed its release back to December 8th. Poor Things will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival this September.