Willem Dafoe in front of flames house meme

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The best Willem Dafoe memes

From "looking at the sky" to "Fresh Willem," Dafoe has become the subject of countless classic memes.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Dec 20, 2023

You might know him from American Psycho, The Lighthouse, or even Spiderman (the Tobey Maguire version), but Willem Dafoe is also the star of many memes. Whether he’s staring up at the sky in awe, being “Willem DaFriend,” or smoking a cigarette and holding two oranges (one of them moldy), Dafoe always gives facial expressions his all—just like he does in his movies.

Dafoe looking at the sky

The Willem Dafoe looking at the sky meme comes from Dafoe’s performance as Vincent van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate. The still shows the actor’s face, staring upward, with an expression of overwhelm or fear. The 2018 movie follows van Gogh in his final years.

Willem Dafoe memes
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The meme is almost self-evident: It signifies shock and awe on the part of its subject.

“Me looking up at the cloudy sky paranoid it’s about to rain,” one meme reads.

“Me looking up and realizing how big the universe is,” another says.

Willem Dafoe looking at the sky can also be used to signify when someone has to physically look upwards. 

“Me in the front row looking up at the theatre screen,” a more literal take on the meme reads.

“5 year old me looking at the cloud that looks like a dog,” another states.

Willem DaFriend

Dafoe’s last name sounds like “the foe” to some. And as a foe is an enemy, the internet has dreamed up a parallel universe in which there exists Willem Dafoe and Willem DaFriend: The former is an enemy and the latter is friendly.

The concept of Willem DaFriend has taken on a life of its own, as there is Willem DaFriend merchandise available online. There’s even a song called “willem dafriend” by a band named overtheweather.

Smoking a cigarette and holding two oranges one of them moldy

A photo of Dafoe smoking a cigarette while holding an orange (one of them is moldy) in each hand was turned into a meme because of its banality. The photo is truly the actor doing those two things, and it has become a reaction photo that people post to signify their response to something online.

The photo has also been meme’d into other contexts—like Dafoe smoking a cigarette and holding two oranges in Skyrim—and painted by an artist whose works focuses on memes.

Fresh Willem Dafoe

The fun doesn’t stop with Dafoe smoking a cigarette and holding two oranges, one of them moldy—there is also the Fresh Willem Dafoe meme. This meme signifies contrast: on one side, there is Dafoe looking “fresh,” wearing a light blue shorts suit with a red cap; on the other, he is shown in The Lighthouse, in black and white, looking grizzled and run down. 

For example, the “fresh” side might be labeled “college freshman,” and The Lighthouse side might be labeled “college seniors.”

Willem Dafoe meme
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*First Published: Dec 20, 2023, 4:35 pm CST