Inside Director Vasilis Katsoupis Reveals Willem Dafoe Improvised Almost Half of the Film (Exclusive)

When he's not suiting up as the Green Goblin in Spider-Man or mentoring Arthur Curry as Vulko in Aquaman, Willem Dafoe is taking his character acting expertise to more intimate projects. The veteran thespian's talents were on full display in 2019's The Lighthouse, a black-and-white psychological thriller where he stars opposite Robert Pattinson and Robert Pattinson alone. His performance as Thomas Wake in that film earned him a Best Supporting Actor win at the Independent Spirit, Satellite, and Seattle Film Critics Society Awards. With acting in a two-man show yielding such success, Dafoe took the challenge one step further in Focus Features's Inside.

Inside puts the full spotlight on Dafoe's Nemo, as the art thief is the only character showcased throughout the entire 105 minutes. Speaking to's Liam Crowley, Inside director Vasilis Katsoupis revealed that the film's scripting process was a collaborative effort between the producing team and Dafoe himself.

"We started our relationship before starting shooting. We built a relationship while we were talking in the script drafts," Katsoupis said. "I really wanted his views on the script and each draft that we were making towards the end and his comments on it. I made him a co-conspirator from the early stages."

Once the script was finalized, Katsoupis noted that the next integral step was creating a set that Dafoe's talents could thrive in.

"When we said that we are going to make this film, what I promised to him was that we're going to make an environment, the best environment for him in order to perform," Katsoupis continued. "What I promised that we will not do it in a green screen. Everything you see in city scapes outside the house were projections. For him, when it was night, he didn't need to think that it was night. He could feel the night."

Dafoe was thrown inside this claustrophobic environment with direction, but Katsoupis gave his leading man significant creative freedom along the way.

"We shot chronologically, and that gave us so much space in order for us to improvise and try things that were coming up," Katsoupis contined. "It was an amazing script, but you can expand on the script. We were very lucky that we found the time and we found a way of making more and more scenes. 30-40 percent of the film that you see is improv."

Inside hits theaters next Friday, March 17th.