Willem Dafoe Could Be Something of a Scientist Himself in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things

Willem Dafoe Could Be Something of a Scientist Himself in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things
C'mon, tell me you don't want to see Willem Dafoe do Frankenstein... (Screenshot: Sony Pictures)

Yorgos Lanthimos’ adaptation of the Alasdair Grey’s dark Victorian literature commentary is racking up an impressive cast…and taking what was already a pretty wild premise and ramping it up even further.

Deadline reports that along with Emma Stone (who starred in Lanthimos’ The Favourite), Willem Dafoe has now entered talks to star in the The Lobster director’s take on the 1992 novel. The trade didn’t specify who Dafoe could be playing in the movie, but it’s perhaps not-too-unsafe to speculate that he could play the surgeon that, well, Frankensteins Poor Things’ main character, Bella Baxter.

The original novel plays out as the autobiography of a Scottish Public Health Officer in the Victorian age, Archibald McCandless, who describes a fantastical life for his wife Bella. It’s a direct pastiche of gothic and romantic fiction tropes of the period until it pivots to Bella refuting those recollections herself in an homage to Frankenstein, suggesting that she is a re-animated woman given a new life and identity. It seems like Lanthimos’ film (based on a script by Tony McNamara) is going to take that homage and run with it, if a recent synopsis from the film is anything to go by.

“Ostensibly the memoirs of late-19th-century Glasgow physician Archibald McCandless, the narrative follows the bizarre life of oversexed, volatile Bella Baxter, an emancipated woman, and a female Frankenstein,” the synopsis, found by Production Weekly (via The Film Stage), reads. “Bella is not her real name; as Victoria Blessington, she drowned herself to escape her abusive husband, but a surgeon removed the brain from the foetus she was carrying and placed it in her skull, resuscitating her. The revived Bella has the mental age of a child. Engaged to marry McCandless, she chloroforms him and runs off with a shady lawyer who takes her on a whirlwind adventure, hopping from Alexandria to Odessa to a Parisian brothel. As her brain matures, Bella develops a social conscience, but her rescheduled nuptials to Archie are cut short when she is recognised as Victoria by her lawful husband, Gen. Sir Aubrey Blessington.”

We’ll have to wait and see who Dafoe ultimately plays. But between his and Stone’s involvement, Lanthimos’ past work with the surreal in something like The Lobster, and this bonkers premise, we’re probably in for quite the journey.