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Kathryn Bigelow Reveals Willem Dafoe Crashed His Motorcycle On Set Of The Loveless

Kathryn Bigelow has broken barriers as a director. Most notably, she was the first woman to win the Academy Award for best director for her work on "The Hurt Locker," which also won best picture that year. She's gone on to direct and produce several other heavily lauded films, including "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Detroit."

But all that success had to start somewhere. While Bigelow broke through the noise with her 1987 neo-Western horror film, "Near Dark," she actually directed her first feature six years earlier with "The Loveless." It's understandable if you've never heard of it before. It's a smaller film following an outlaw biker gang who get themselves into trouble when they ride into a small Southern town. The movie starred Willem Dafoe in his first leading role, making it a revelatory production for many involved. Of course, seeing how the movie follows a biker gang, it makes sense Bigelow would want her lead actor to know how to ride a motorcycle, and even though Dafoe said he could initially, Bigelow soon learned otherwise. 

Willem Dafoe ended up crashing into a house

There's a little piece of advice that up-and-coming actors tend to live by. If someone asks if they can do something, they just say, "Yes." That means if someone asks if an actor can speak a particular language or knows how to ride a horse, they say "Yes" to get the part and then figure it out later. Apparently, Willem Dafoe was aware of this axiom, as Kathryn Bigelow revealed on an episode of the "Questlove Supreme" podcast. 

They delved into the topic of her first film, namely "The Loveless," and Bigelow couldn't have praised Dafoe more. She said he was wonderful to work with, but she didn't really look into his claim that he could actually ride a motorcycle. She explained, "He used to be with The Wooster Group, and that was back in the day where you could just go to a performance, and you go up afterwards and say, 'Hey do you want to be in a movie?' I had just five pennies to make this film, and he's like, 'Sure.' I said, 'Can you ride a motorcycle?' He said yes. Well, I learned it's good to kind of research these questions."

It sounded like Bigelow soon began questioning Dafoe's claim once they began filming. One of the podcast hosts asked her how many times he fell over, and it didn't sound like he fell over too much. However, she did relate, "He didn't fall; he just ended up going through a hedge and up a lawn, hitting the front door." Fortunately, it sounds like Dafoe's inexperience on a bike didn't hurt the film too much. The movie was a reasonable hit with critics and set Bigelow's career on the right path to churn out one solid hit after the next.