Actor Willem Dafoe has finally opened up about how Marvel Studios and Sony had managed to keep his return as the Green Goblin in No Way Home a well-kept secret during its production. Willem Dafoe is one of the five legacy villains who made a return for the threequel, but his role as Norman Osborn turned out to be arguably the most significant to the story of the film as Tobey Maguire’s one-time arch-nemesis serves as the film’s main antagonist, creating a whole new rivalry with Tom Holland’s web-slinger.
How Willem Dafoe’s role was kept a secret in No Way Home
Despite the importance of Dafoe’s villain to the film, his involvement wasn’t actually confirmed for a long time until after the shooting wrapped up, with Alfred Molina and Jamie Foxx’s return as Doc Ock and Electro leaking out sooner. Talking to host Jimmy Fallon, while appearing on The Tonight Show, Willem Dafoe talked about the extreme methods that were taken to reduce the chances of Marvel fans finding out about his return as the Goblin.
“They did it beautifully. These Marvel movies have such a strong fan base. People are so curious about them. Even when they’re being made, people are trying to figure out what’s going on,” Dafoe began. “They decided they were going to keep some of the elements a secret.”
Dafoe went on to explain that he was covered from head to toe when he arrived on the set. He was also quite encouraged not to go out and about during this time in Georgia, where Spider-Man: No Way Home was shot, so there wasn’t any evidence that he was present in the area – which is mostly all folks on the internet need to weave the pieces together.
“When I’d go to set, they put me in a black cloak and always had me in a car with dark windows. And they didn’t want me hanging out anyplace because they didn’t want anyone to know I was in town making a movie. And I didn’t think it would work, but actually, it did,” Dafoe said. “Only just before the movie was released they started kind of hinting things in the trailers. So it was cool.”
While there were many rumors that Norman Osborn will be back for No Way Home, the lack of any evidence ensured that fans were never too sure of his return. Until, as Dafoe reveals, his return was confirmed in the initial trailer for the conclusion to the trilogy by Jon Watts which also included some shots of pumpkin bombs, alongside a soundbite of Dafoe’s iconic cackle. Even then, the marketing misled us all as to how significant he would prove to be, instead of putting the main focus on Alfred Molina’s Otto Octavius.