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Willem Dafoe Agreed To Return For Spider-Man: No Way Home Under One Condition

The following article contains spoilers for "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

As fans debate where "Spider-Man: No Way Home" falls in the hierarchy of "Spider-Man" movies, one thing is abundantly clear — it's hands-down the most ambitious Spidey flick to date. The film doesn't contend itself with following formulas of the past. Instead of having the web-slinger go up against a new baddie from the comics, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has to face multiple villains from previous "Spider-Man" franchises. 

It's an impressive feat to get the original actors who played these characters back after over a decade after they put on the suits. What exactly did it take to convince these actors to assume their villainous personas once again? In one panel interview, Alfred Molina, who returns to play Doctor Octopus, jokingly said, "For me, it's just about the money."

However, Willem Dafoe had another reason for returning as Norman Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin, although we're sure money played a role for him, too. Dafoe made it clear in an interview with Mulderville that if he were going to come back, he would do his own stunts.

The action scenes are fun for Willem Dafoe

It would've been easy to CGI Willem Dafoe's face into a couple of scenes and call it a day, but he actually becomes a formidable presence in the film. In fact, many would likely refer to him as the primary antagonist throughout the movie, seeing how the bulk of the destruction comes from him and his influence on the other villains. And Dafoe's there for much of the action, complete with doing his own fight scenes. 

According to Dafoe, that was an integral part of his return. He didn't just want to be a glorified cameo; he wanted the audience to know he was there and doing his own stunts. As he told Mulderville, "To do this physical stuff was important to me. In fact, one of the first things I said to Jon [Watts] and Amy [Pascal], basically when they pitched it to me before there was even a script was, 'Listen, I don't want to just pop in there as a cameo or just fill in in close-ups. I want to do the action because that's fun for me.'"

However, the need to do his own action extended beyond just having fun. He felt it was integral in giving the best performance possible, as he goes on to say, "It's really impossible to add any integrity or any fun to the character if you don't participate in these things. Because all of that action stuff informs your relationships to the characters and the story. It makes you earn your right to play the character, in a funny way." 

Willem Dafoe has a history of doing his own stunts

Wanting to do his own stunts in a superhero movie is nothing new for Willem Dafoe. In a 2002 interview with The Guardian, the actor revealed that he was already adamant about doing his own stunt work when he was portraying Norman Osborn in Sam Raimi's original "Spider-Man." As Dafoe put it then, the reason he chose to don the Green Goblin's armor and go all in with the role's physical aspects had a lot to do with the fact that the costume was so elaborate, he didn't feel he could rely on anyone else to accurately convey the body language he'd crafted for the character.  

"Well, you know, I get very self-conscious because I have a tendency to have an inflated sense of how athletic I am," the actor said. "But past that, I really felt it was necessary for me to do all the physical stuff. The only stuff that I wouldn't do is what was too dangerous, and they basically wouldn't let me do it anyway. But because, basically, you're working with a mask and because of the gesture, language and carriage, I didn't want anyone else doing my role. No matter how good these stunt guys are, they aren't actors. And they aren't necessarily world-class mimics either." 

As you can see, these comments are perfectly in line with Dafoe's approach to the physical aspects of the character in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Considering his stellar work in both movies, it's certainly difficult to find any fault in his dedication to the role. Dafoe has more than earned the right to call him the preeminent Green Goblin, and you can see him in action now in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," in theaters now.