A lean, sharp-featured actor with a seductive, serpentine smile, Dafoe finds himself in the unusual (but enviable) position of bouncing back and forth between leads and showy character parts-and he's equally effective in either. Following an inauspicious movie debut in Heaven's Gate (1980), the stage-seasoned Dafoe toiled in several minor films, usually as sadistic villains, before his turn in William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A (1985) set the mold for the postmodern heavy and, in so doing, elevated him to a higher rank of player. For 1986's Platoon director Oliver Stone cast him against type as a Christ-like soldier; in 1988 Martin Scorsese went all the way and made Dafoe the lead in The Last Temptation of Christ Platoon earned him an Oscar nomination.) Since then he's been playing mainly heroic roles-an FBI agent in Mississippi Burning (1988), a boxer imprisoned by Nazis in Triumph of the Spirit (1989), a daring pilot in Flight of the Intruder (1991), a small-town cop working undercover in White Sands (1992)- although he did revert to his initial type in John Waters' Cry-Baby (1990), with a cameo as a bullying reformatory guard, and in Wild at Heart (1990), playing a lascivious bandit in bad need of an orthodontist. He's also been in Light Sleeper (1992), Faraway, So Close! (1993), the notorious Body of Evidence (also 1993, as the lawyer led astray by kinky client Madonna), and Tom & Viv (1994, as T. S. Eliot).