That Time Willem Dafoe Found Out About His Oscar Nomination From the Babysitter

No, it definitely wasn’t this year for “The Florida Project”

Willem Dafoe, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “The Florida Project” on Tuesday, has been down this road before.

He was nominated in the same category for “Platoon” in 1986, and then in the Best Actor category for “Shadow of the Vampire” in 2000.

But awards season in those days was dramatically different, Dafoe told TheWrap on Tuesday. “It’s changed so much,” he said. “There are more expectations, more events – it’s more refined, more developed.”

He laughed. “When I first got nominated for ‘Platoon,’ I didn’t even know when the Oscar nominations were being announced. My son’s babysitter called me up to tell me I was nominated.

“That’s way different from now. Last night I was so aware of the nominations that I couldn’t sleep.”

Dafoe said he knew that “The Florida Project” could be something special as soon as he started prepping for his role as the manager in a rundown motel that caters to down-on-their-luck, short-term tenants near Disney World in Florida. “It was a very good script and a very strong director who’s also a real filmmaker,” he said of director Sean Baker. “I felt like we were making contact with a very human story – it was joyous on one hand, and on the other hand it was grim because it wasn’t romanticized.”

His was the only Oscar recognition for “The Florida Project,” which at one point seemed to be in the running for Best Picture and Best Director nominations. Does that make the experience bittersweet for him?

“It does,” he said. “I’m happy to be nominated, but what can I say? I’m very proud of the film, and I think it really resonated with people. I just wish it would have gotten a little more love [from the Academy].”

And since he seems to be on an Oscar-nomination-every-15-years-or-so schedule, is Dafoe ready to gear up for awards season 2033?

“That’s OK with me,” said the 62-year-old actor. “I just hope I live long enough.”