‘Death Note’ Movie Cast: Willem Dafoe to Voice Shinigami Ryuk, Perfect Combo For Ex Spider-Man Villain

Netflix has an exciting new venture on their own version of the popular anime series, Death Note. It is sometimes hard to find the perfect fit for anime characters, especially if these shows already have massive fan bases. But this time, Netflix had the perfect fit.

According to Mashable, Willem Dafoe has been chosen to play the voice of Ryuk, the Shinigami in Adam Wingard’s adaptation of Death Note on Netflix.

Shinigami Ryuk was the death god who gave Light Yagami, the protagonist, a Death Note. This is where it will all begin. Ryuk was this sly, manipulative Shinigami who was just bored with the activities of the Shinigami Realm. He then stole a second Death Note to bring to the human world.


Aside from the uncanny facial similarities, Willem Dafoe and Ryuk have this similar vibe as villains. This is not the first villain role for Dafoe. One of his most popular roles is the Norman Osborn or Green Goblin in Spider-Man.

His role as the main villain for Spider-Man has marked Willem Dafoe as one of the best villains in the industry.

According to Matt Movie Reviews, his Green Goblin role is one of his best works.

Willem Dafoe also has other villain roles such as Eric Masters in the underrated crime thriller To Live and Die in L.A. Dafoe played a yuppie counterfeiter who was always one step ahead a secret service agent.

“Cocky, cool and dangerous, Masters is a villain hard to catch and as played by Dafoe one to remember.”

His role as Sgt. Elias in the movie Platoon also received high praises. His most iconic scene in the movie was when he was on his knees, arms raised to the sky, as the Vietnam War was portrayed in the background. Sgt. Elias is a “good guy” role for Willem Dafoe, but he made it worthwhile. It just shows how versatile he is as an actor.


Speaking of “good guy” roles, Willem Dafoe played the purest representation of the “good guy” when he portrayed Jesus in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ.

“In his portrayal of an angry, confused, regretful and ultimately accepting Jesus Christ, Dafoe delivers a performance which is both convincing and full of passion, sure to remind both believers and un-believers that in this Son of God was a man who sacrificed himself for our sins. Amen.”

Moreover, this is also not the first voice acting gig for the award-winning Dafoe. He also played Gill in the popular animated film Finding Nemo. Matt Movie Reviews noted that “even in animated form, Dafoe manages to play intimidating very well.”

Therefore, aside from Ryuk’s and Dafoe’s personas overlapping, Dafoe has the acting chops to deliver.


Ryuk is a very complicated character. He was supposed to be a Shinigami, but throughout the Death Note journey, Ryuk would find an attachment to Light.

Ryuk also has this weird addiction to apples. It is too extreme that he suffers withdrawals if he goes too long without eating one.

Ryuk does not particularly partner with Light, but since he found him “interesting,” he has worked very closely with Light’s goals to eradicate the evil in the world.

Light Yagami’s intelligent approach in utilizing the Death Note has struck Ryuk the most.


Still, Ryuk will have good and bad days with Light. He even trashed Light in one event and told him that he was not as special as he thinks he is:

“I didn’t choose you. Don’t you see this is all just an accident? You actually thought you were chosen because you’re so smart or something? Don’t be so vain. It just happen to fall around here and you just happen to pick it up, and that’s all there is to it.”

Now, Death Note fans are excited to see how Willem Dafoe will bring life to Ryuk.

[Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images]