TODAY   |  March 03, 2014

Willem Dafoe: Philip Seymour Hoffman death ‘a tragedy’

The actor joins TODAY to chat about his role in the new film “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and about working with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in the movie “A Most Wanted Man.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> william defoe has appeared in more than 80 films. everything from platoon to " finding nemo ," while he is marvelous as a good guy, we like him when he plays the bad guy . and in his new movie " budapest hotel," defoe is really, really bad.

>> who are you? what are you doing here? the only personnel i've permitted is the military investigation.

>> his employer's mother was one of the victims --

>> shut up.

>> are you aware of the murder of the deputy from the 23rd of october?

>> i'm aware of his disappearance.

>> william defoe , good morning. it's good to see you.

>> good morning.

>> i've got to ask about the oscars. did you watch last night?

>> i did, i did.

>> the whole 3 1/2-hour extravaganza.

>> yeah.

>> you think the right folks won?

>> that's not the question. not to be a smarty pants , but i think it kind of went as i thought it would. i was, you know, it was fun. lay some bets and see how it goes.

>> are you one of those people that watch the red carpet fashions?

>> yep. my inner fashion critic is born every time this happens. i surprise myself.

>> who's your fave?

>> hey, you weren't there.

>> well, let's talk about the movie. "the grand budapest hotel." every time i see you on the screen, i feel like something terrible's going to happen because you're so often the bad guy .

>> often, i guess. you know, i don't make the distinction so much. in this character, he's so -- he does his job. i don't think about him being bad.

>> i was wondering about that. because some actors will say, you know, i try to find the humanity in this bad character. are you one of those?

>> sure. you don't judge them and you do the actions and then something happens. i really don't make the distinction good guy or bad guy . you always take their side because you have to invest yourself in them.

>> advocate for them, yes?

>> you do.

>> this is your third movie with wes anderson . he's so incredible, so unique. what he churns out is so extraordinary. is that why you keep saying yes to him every time he calls?

>> yes. and he gives you fun things to do, great to be around. it's great to help him do what he does. yeah.

>> how would you describe the film?

>> well, i mean, story wise, it's basically about this character played by ray fiennes and his protege. he's the concierge of a great european hotel. and carries the story through the wars and after the war.

>> there are so many stars in this film. you were all together in a little town in germany, basically held captain while shooting the film. did that lead to interesting dinners and socializing?

>> always, always -- all lived in the same hotel and had formal dinner every night. and we were right on the polish border and sometimes we'd go over into poland for dinner, which was cool.

>> i heard you were semidetained on your way back from poland one night.

>> sure. walking over the bridge one night, some over-eager german cops tried to grab me.

>> did you give them a menacing look and it was fine?

>> no, i think --

>> before i let you go, your next film coming out was actually philip seymour hoffman 's last performance. it's got to make that bittersweet as we talk about that movie.

>> um, i don't know if that's going to come out in the fall. it's called "the most wanted man," based on a novel. it is one of his last performances. and just what happened is a tragedy.

>> william defoe , it's good to see you. thank you so much. and the "grand budapest hotel" opens on friday. we're