Rob Dafoe is a man of depth: an accomplished athlete, filmer, musician, designer, and now a cowboy of sorts. Dafoe’s always been hard to get a bead on-perpetually in a state of reinvention, moving along the West Coast … searching. In the mid 90s Rob was a defining local pro in Big Bear, along with Thien, Brushie, and Iguchi. He produced two colorful snow movies-X-Facto and Vertical Smile, as well as gracing the covers of both snowboard magazines. I caught the chameleon at an equestrian event-go figure.
When and why did you retire?
At the end of ’96-contracts were up and I decided not to renew them. Breaking my leg early that season had given me some time to reflect. I’d done pretty much everything I wanted to do with snowboarding, and it was time to move on to the goal of being a filmmaker. So I started, which meant the process of a lot of things-telling stories, you have to have a lot of stories and I only had a one-sided view of life from being a snowboarder. I hadn’t really lived the way I wanted to live. There were things I wanted to do as mundane as building a house or tiling-working with my soft, baby hands from snowboarding, and making them tough. Just experiencing some of that shit work, and sailing boats-sailing large yachts. And also learning the whole process of growing grapes and vinting. All these aspects have encompassed my life since quitting.Recent developments?
I moved back to my hometown of Santa Barbara, California and then next door to the Santa Ynez Valley to be closer to my girl. I’m currently building my director’s reel for commercial jobs, and doing video work for wineries in Santa Barbara-specifically Firestone Vineyard and Firestone Brewery. I’m still working on feature projects, writing and directing short films, and getting the funds together to make my first feature. Just trying to stay alive, keep food in my mouth, and hopefully, get these projects made.
How did you get involved with horses?
Between ’93 and ’96 I drank a lot of wine-I was really into wine. The idea was that one day I’d have my own vineyard and ride horses to check on the grapes. A while back I saw an ad on TV for the Therapeutic Riding Academy, and they needed volunteers. It’s a place where kids with mental and physical disabilities get to ride horses, so I volunteered. Then I met my girlfriend, Jennifer-I was picking up horse shit with a tractor, and she was one of the instructors. She’s a three-day event rider trying to make the Olympics, and she’s taught me a lot about horses. Now I green-break horses once in a while and get to ride whenever I want. A couple days a week I get to play cowboy.
Break down the TWS cover.That’s a funny story. I had quit snowboarding and moved up to my house in Big Bear to write-I wasn’t really snowboarding anymore. Vianney Tisseau and Jason Ford came up to stay at the pad and asked me to come out on a photo shoot. It was interesting because I’d quit and was just having a good time. I got the cover … it was a pretty good way to wrap up a chapter in my journey.
Thanks to Raul for the FourSquare stuff, and Gunny and Gen for the tickets at Snow Summit and Big Bear. And a thanks to Jack Coghlan.
CaptionsDafoe on Big Bear: “The triple-B club-booze, burgers, and babes. It wasn’t the best riding or best mountain, but we had a good time.”Portrait: Jon Foster
“The cover shot was the first 360 I’d done since I broke my leg.” Photo: Vianney Tisseau