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December 21, 2014

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Willem Dafoe makes first visit to Las Vegas

Actor awarded CineVegas Vanguard Actor Award at reception at the Palms

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Justin M. Bowen

Willem Defoe was honored Sunday during the CineVegas 2009 Honorees reception at Rain nightclub at The Palms Hotel and Casino.

CineVegas Awards 2009

Maria Menounos poses for pictures Sunday during the CineVegas 2009 Honorees reception red carpet at Rain nightclub at The Palms Hotel and Casino. Launch slideshow »

Willem Dafoe has had plenty of opportunities to come to Las Vegas over the years but nothing ever convinced the actor to visit the city - until Sunday night.

Yet it wasn’t a luxurious nightclub, extravagant pool party, or opulent night out on the town on a casino’s dime that got the actor to come to town.

It was CineVegas.

He finally arrived in Las Vegas Sunday, just in time to catch the tail-end of the 11th annual film festival.

Until Sunday’s visit, the 53-year-old star had never set foot in Las Vegas.

Dafoe explained his half-century-long Vegas stand-off while walking the red carpet outside Sunday night’s CineVegas Awards Reception at the Palms.

“I never had a good enough reason to come,” he said just moments before accepting the CineVegas Vanguard Actor Award, which honored his retrospective of brave performances.

“This was a good reason,” Dafoe said, of the award.

“This is the first time I’ve been here,” he reiterated, “And I’m happy I came.”

The two-time Academy Award-nominated actor said his first visit to Las Vegas probably won’t be his last one.

“I’ll probably be back,” he smiled.

Dafoe spent Sunday afternoon at CineVegas, which is being held at Brenden Theatres and concludes today.

He answered fans’ questions following a screening of his 1982 film, “the Loveless,” before walking the red carpet outside the evening’s reception.

While Dafoe admitted Sunday that he had yet to see much of the city aside from the interior of the Palms, the actor still said he liked his first, tiny taste of the city.

“Oh, man, my head is buzzing,” he said.

“It’s interesting,” he said. “I’m digesting a lot.”

The Wooster Group co-founder noted his inaugural visit to Vegas would be a relatively low-key one.

“I’m just going to do some things today and see a couple of films tomorrow,” he said.

In addition to picking up some prestigious hardware at Sunday night’s reception and checking out some films, Dafoe said his itinerary would also involve some father-son bonding.

“I brought my (27-year-old) son so maybe we’ll do some things around the films tomorrow,” he said.

The 11th annual CineVegas film festival continues now through Monday. While the majority of screenings and events take place at the Palms, a complete guide to the festival, its events and corresponding parties can be found here.

Melissa Arseniuk writes about Las Vegas entertainment and celebrity events. She can be reached at 702-948-7823 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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