Willem Dafoe Wasn't the First Choice For the Iconic Role in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man

Willem Dafoe Wasn't the First Choice For the Iconic Role in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man
Image credit: Columbia Pictures Corporation/Marvel

You won't believe who almost played the Green Goblin in Spider-Man.

When you hear Willem Dafoe’s name, you probably remember a bunch of his roles, and we bet his portrayal of the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man movie is one of them. Now it’s difficult to imagine someone else in that iconic movie, but surprisingly, Dafoe wasn’t the first choice for the role.

Billy Bob Thornton, known for his performances in films and TV shows like Bad Santa, Sling Blade, Fargo and Goliath, was initially offered the role of the Green Goblin. However, Thornton turned it down, citing his aversion to playing villainous roles and the extensive makeup required for the character.

He told MTV News that he didn't want to be the baddie for a big movie star as he thought it wasn't a good career decision.

Thornton's decision to pass on the role was not taken lightly. He admitted to Sam Raimi, the director of Spider-Man, that he couldn't bear the thought of spending hours in makeup. “I told Sam, ‘I just can’t be in makeup that long.’ I’d go crazy,” he confessed.

With Thornton out of the picture, the search for the perfect Green Goblin began anew. Enter Willem Dafoe, an actor known for his intense and immersive performances. Dafoe was drawn to the role due to Raimi's fresh take on the superhero genre.

Willem Dafoe Wasn't the First Choice For the Iconic Role in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man - image 1

However, securing the role was no easy feat. Dafoe recalled his audition process as "competitive," marking one of the last times he put himself on tape for an audition.

Once he clinched the part, Dafoe faced the challenge of making the Green Goblin a believable and intimidating character. The original look of the Marvel villain, which Dafoe described as a "Halloween mask" with a "puke green" color and "bug eyes," was deemed too ridiculous.

The final design, a more modern and angular armor, was a welcome change that helped Dafoe bring the character to life.

Even though some fans think that a flexible mask would have been better in terms of reflecting Dafoe’s exceptional facial expression, his portrayal of the Green Goblin still deserves praise.

Dafoe's performance as the Green Goblin was met with widespread acclaim, and he would later reprise his role 20 years later, in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Sources: MTV News, Variety