03/21/2012 03:45 pm ET

Willem Dafoe Talks Indie Films, 'The Hunter,' 'Last Day On Earth'

Willem Dafoe may have one big-budget film in theaters right now, but "John Carter" isn't the only movie fans can catch him in these days.

The 56-year-old actor has played a disparate array of roles throughout his career, including Jesus and the Green Goblin, and now he's tackling two more in the independent films "4:44 Last Day on Earth" and "The Hunter."

Dafoe chatted with The Huffington Post about his upcoming projects and his views on independent film versus action-packed blockbusters.

"4:44 Last Day on Earth," as the title suggests, is about the end of the world.
It’s less, maybe, about mortality, more about how you spend your time and what your consciousness is, how much you deal with life distracted, how awake you are -- those kinds of things. Very basic questions, but it’s a meditation on those things in a very active way, because you have the drama of the impending end.

Did it affect you personally, like, "Why am I watching this 'Law & Order' rerun yet again?"
Oh, I don’t watch much TV, but that’s a funny example. I just think about this stuff naturally, all the time. I’m an actor!

You’re also in "The Hunter," in which your character is searching for the extinct Tasmanian tiger.
I think the Tasmanian tiger is a strong symbol of wrongs of the past, and every sighting has the hope that we’re let off the hook and past sins can be washed away.

Are you recognized the most for your role in the "Spider-Man" movies?
Yeah, but for a lot of other things too. One of the pleasures is different people see different movies, especially when you’ve been around for a while. I did "Spider-Man" because I liked the idea of the double role. I don’t have that many opportunities in that big tent-pole world, but I think it’s important to check in with that. I think it certainly helps to have a film that’s well distributed every once in a while because I’m always doing all kinds of independent films and sometimes it breaks your heart how spotty distribution is, so it’s nice sometimes to see something that’s well supported. In this world, it gets so depressing sometimes. You can make a beautiful movie that’s not meant for a huge audience and doesn’t get a big push, and then it’s deemed a failure because it’s judged by the standards of a big movie.

After you did "The Last Temptation of Christ," did you walk around a little puffed up like, "Hey, I just played Jesus!"
No, because I always thought I played a particular Jesus in a particular film. I never played "Jesus" with a capital J. That was the whole point. In fact, the biggest work I had to do was cleanse myself of any awareness that I had of Jesus. Luckily, it was a very reactive film, so I could do that.

You made my skin crawl in "Auto Focus."
Oh, I’m sorry.

No, that’s a good thing! Who has a bigger gap in their front teeth, you or Madonna?
You know, we’ve never measured. I forget that I have a gap in my teeth. I like it, but I forget that I have it.