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Willem Dafoe pokes fun at his ‘expressive face’ in ‘SNL’ monologue: ‘The vibe of a sociopath’

Dafoe joked that "one man’s over the top is another man’s engaged performance."
Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe made his hosting debut during last night's episode of "Saturday Night Live."SNL / "SNL"/NBC

For the first time in his decades-long career, Willem Dafoe took on hosting duty during last night’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” alongside musical guest, Katy Perry.

To jump-start his monologue, he recalled his time in New York during the early years of his career and took a moment to almost immediately address the elephant in the room: his “expressive face.”

“I got started in experimental theater. I was an original member of The Wooster Group,” he said, to applause. “And that background really taught me how to throw myself into a role. Some people tell me that my acting is over the top, but to me, one man’s over the top is another man’s engaged performance.” 

“For instance, in this scene, people assume I’m about to toss somebody off a building,” he said, before the clip cuts to close-up photo of Dafoe with wide eyes and a sinister smile. “When in reality, I was just reading a really good book.”

The clip then cut to a wider version of the photo that showed Dafoe with the same menacing face, this time with a book in his hand.

“I can’t help it that I have an expressive face, I can’t control it,” he explained, before poking fun at some of his fellow “expressive” actors. “I don’t think about controlling it, I’m not one of those subtle actors, like Nicolas Cage or Al Pacino."

He added, "Maybe that’s why people come up to me and say, ‘You know what role you’d be perfect for? The Joker.’ Always nice to hear that you got the vibe of a sociopath.”

Willem Dafoe
"I can’t control it," Dafoe said of his "expressive" face.SNL / "SNL"/NBC

Later in the monologue, cast members Mikey Day and Aidy Bryant interrupted Dafoe when he mentioned his hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin. The "SNL" alums played a couple who hailed from the same city.

They went through several of their favorite movies of Dafoe’s including “Spider-Man,” “Spider-Man 2,” and as Bryant put it, “‘Spider-Man’ the new one,” in addition to “Speed 2.”

There were also a few movies they could have sworn Dafoe was in (he wasn't), including “Full Metal Jacket” and “The Passion of the Christ.”

Day did have one suggestion for Dafoe before the monologue ended, asking the host, “Hey, has anyone told you you should play the Joker?”