Pop Culture

Sort the Stars: Willem Dafoe and Denis Leary

It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time to sort two stars who are easily confused. Today’s actors are two baby boomers of similar appearance, and both with a slight tilt in the spelling of their first names.

Denis Leary, from IMDB


In my mind, Denis Leary will always be a somewhat foul-mouthed comedian. Plenty funny, but damn, the man is dirty. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. He burst onto the scene in the early 1990s, with his comedy routine, “No Cure for Cancer,” and since then has appeared in feature films and televisions almost non-stop. Some of his more notable films include Two if By Sea, Wag the Dog, and a slew of Ice Age movies.


Willem Dafoe, from IMDB

Willem Dafoe is forever known to me for his role in the English Patient. Truth is, he’s been in many notable films, including Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, The Boondock Saints, Spiderman, and he does the voice of Gil in Finding Nemo. He’s known for playing dark, unstable characters (even Gil’s a little dark, come to think of it). Out of character was his appearance in Mr. Bean’s Holiday– I mean, really, a Mr. Bean movie? But I guess everyone needs to lighten up now and then.

So, how do you tell these two apart? If it’s comedy, it’s probably Leary.  If there’s a lot of killing and death, it’s probably Dafoe. If it’s a cartoon during the Ice Age, it’s Leary. If it’s a cartoon that takes place in a fish tank, it’s Dafoe. Oh and one more differeniating feature: I discovered that Leary does the late night talk show circuit continuously, while Dafoe prefers the morning talk shows. For real. So if you’re drinking beer and watching TV, it’s probably Leary. If you’re drinking coffee, it’s probably Dafoe.

9 replies on “Sort the Stars: Willem Dafoe and Denis Leary”

Coincidence: Willem Dafoe played the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man trilogy; Denis Leary is Mr. Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man. 

Denis Leary has also done TV drama in Rescue Me. I read a monologue play of his recently as well – google is not helping with the title! – and quite enjoyed it, though I’d say you’d have to have seen/heard his style first.

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