From Goblin to Death God: Willem Dafoe Cast in ‘Death Note’

From Goblin to Death God: Willem Dafoe Cast in ‘Death Note’

Shinigami certainly aren’t known for their social skills. If anything, Death Note’s Ryuk is a death god with some strange habits. He has a disturbing addiction to apples (apparently they’re like cigarettes and booze to gods of death). Oh, and his idea of entertainment (i.e. stealing a deadly supernatural notebook and giving it to a teenager) isn’t exactly great for humanity.

Today, Mashable announced that Oscar-nominated actor, and geek film veteran, Willem Dafoe will voice the witty and jaded Shinigami in the upcoming film adaptation of the popular manga, created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.

As Ryuk, Dafoe plays a burned out Shinigami who decides to steal a death note from his home realm. It’s pages hold the power to take life with the stroke of a pen. The user needs only to know the name of the victim and write it down while picturing their face.

Ryuk intentionally drops his notebook near a high school where it is picked up by the brilliant, and eventually certifiably insane, Light Yagami (played by Nat Wolff). Under Ryuk’s guidance and delighted encouragement, Light begins taking the lives of criminals. Eventually, Light descends into the madness that comes with absolute power, threatening the safety of the international community, and bringing the attention of special investigator L (played by Keith Stanfield).

All the while, Dafoe’s character, Ryuk, watches with glee. When asked why he chose Light, Ryuk glibly responds, “You’re asking me why? I did it ’cause I was bored.”

Dafoe isn’t new to the nerd scene, or to playing entertainingly eccentric villains. He famously portrayed the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man film trilogy. He is taking on the role of Atlantean political advisor, defender and Aquaman acquaintance Nuidis Vulko in the upcoming Justice League.

Death Note is being adapted by Adam Vingard from the original manga and is slated to launch on Netflix in 2017.


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Staff writer, life-time gamer, professional nerd and amateur cosplayer. Owns a working copy of Duck Hunt (with the light gun). Has never hunted real ducks. Writer and marketer by trade.
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