News about the upcoming Netflix film DEATH NOTE, based on the Shonen Jump manga of the same name, has been coming out in slow trickles for years now. After being in development for years, it was unceremoniously dropped by the studio, only to be picked up by Netflix.
For the longest time, we only had word that Nat Wolff would be playing the role of Light, but apart from that, actual details were elusive for some time. At this point, we have a cast that includes Margaret Qualley, Keith Steinfeld, Paul Nakauchi, and Shea Whigham. While some important roles have been filled, there is one who, up until this point, has not been cast, and that is the role of Ryuk the shinigami (which, to be honest, is a role I thought may have been written out of this adaptation).
Now, Mashable has learned that two-time Oscar-nominee Willem Dafoe has been cast as the voice of the mischievous demon. For those who don’t know, Ryuk is a Japanese demon known as a shinigami. These demons are essentially the equivalent of Grim Reapers, and as such, it is their task to kill humans — which they do by writing the names of people in their Death Notes. Ryuk is a particularly bored shinigami, and when his boredom finally gets the better of him, he drops his Death Note on Earth just to see what the humans would do with it. The notebook is picked up by anti-hero/villain Light Yagami, who then decides to play judge, jury, and executioner using this notebook, creating a world in his own image.
In many ways, when looking at the original character design of Ryuk, I can’t help but think of the way Dafoe pulled off the Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN. Sure, perhaps the portrayal came across as campy, but given that Ryuk is essentially a demon, it’s a performance that can still be slightly replicated, albeit toned down to match the style of the film. This role is one that’s concerned me since day one of this film’s development, and while I’m still not entirely convinced anyone could pull it off in a believable manner, if there is someone to do it, it’s Dafoe.
What are your thoughts on Dafoe’s casting? Did Netflix call it perfectly, or did you have someone else better in mind? Should this role even exist in an American adaptation? Let us know your thoughts down below!
DEATH NOTE hits Netflix next year!
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