Netflix released its first teaser for the live-action adaptation of Death Note, and although some fans aren’t pleased with the direction the movie is heading in, nearly everyone agrees that the best part isn’t even in the trailer: Willem Dafoe’s interpretation of Ryuk.
Dafoe is playing Ryuk, a Shinigami (grim reaper) who kickstarts a world of chaos after letting his death notebook fall into the hands of a high school student. The notebook gives the student, Light, the ability to kill whoever he wants, however he wants as long as he knows their name and can picture their face.
The adaptation isn’t a strict adaptation in the way Ghost in the Shell is. The story has been taken out of Tokyo and moved to Seattle, for example, and director Adam Wingard has said the movie encompasses the themes of Death Note more than anything else. Despite the liberties Wingard is taking with the project, the one aspect fans can agree on is that Dafoe is a perfect fit. He only has one line in the trailer and it’s said off-scene, but it’s already become the one thing people can’t stop talking about.
"I expect this to be shit "— bc (@blkcldrn) March 22, 2017
*hears willem dafoe as ryuk*
"god damn it I got excited for a second" https://t.co/T35vzlD2Rz
let's be real though even though death note US is a huge mistake and a Bad Idea willem dafoe is the best possible choice for ryuk— pharah (@NISHIKlNO) March 22, 2017
Eh, I'm down for the Death Note thing, if only for Willem Dafoe as Ryuk. That's something I feel like I absolutely need to see.— ＴＨＲＡＳＨＥＲＳＨＡＲＫ (@Sane_Intolerant) March 22, 2017
That Death Note show looks really bad but Willem Dafoe as Ryuk is absolutely perfect casting so I am morbidly curious to watch it.— DJ Slime Time (@ItsAlita) March 22, 2017
On Reddit, fans also pointed out while Wingard’s take on the movie was sure to be controversial, Dafoe was the silver lining in the project for many.
“I cannot think of any actor more suitable for the role,” one person wrote. “Just his devious smile alone is perfect!”
Dafoe has made a name for himself over the course of his career playing odd and unique characters. He played John Wick’s somewhat friend Marcus in John Wick, the cold blooded assassin J.G. Jopling in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and the Green Goblin in Sony’s Spider-Man franchise. Dafoe has become one of the go-to character actors in the industry, and the prospect of Dafoe bringing those talents to Ryuk has people excited.
In 2007, Dafoe was asked about his career and the strange roles he’s taken on in an interview with the A.V. Club. Dafoe said he wanted his characters to feel very much alive and create a personal stake so people care about them, even if they’re an oddball.
“I try to just inhabit the character in a full way, where I can create a personal stake,” Dafoe said. “It's a character study, but the way you approach it is action — I don't mean car chases, I mean what the character does, and that's where you put your concentration. How you apply yourself to those things is really where the character is born.”
Death Note will premiere on Netflix on August 25.