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James Wan confirms Willem Dafoe won't appear in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”

James Wan confirms Willem Dafoe won't appear in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”

The just-released trailer for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom features the return of pretty much every major character from 2018's Aquaman. There's Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry, Temuera Morrison's Tom Curry, Nicole Kidman's Atlanna, Amber Heard's Mera, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Black Manta, and Patrick Wilson's Orm (in both shaggy-haired and cleaned-up versions). The trailer even features Topo, the drumming octopus from the first film!

One of the few characters not featured in the sneak peek is Willem Dafoe's Nuidis Vulko, the Atlantean who taught the young Arthur his fighting skills and acted as an all-around mentor to the superhero-in-training. Director James Wan exclusively confirms to EW that Dafoe will not be appearing in his sequel.

"Willem is not in this one, no," says Wan, who also directed the 2018 film. "Part of the reason was because his schedule did not work out for us. But what that allowed me to do was expand on Atlanna's role. Atlanna in this one ultimately becomes Arthur's advisor. Because Arthur's not from this world, she helps him better understand the world and the politics of how things work."

AQUAMAN, Willem Dafoe as Vulko, 2018
AQUAMAN, Willem Dafoe as Vulko, 2018

Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection Willem Dafoe in 'Aquaman'

At the end of 2018's Aquaman, Arthur defeated Orm and became King of Atlantis, while Wilson's character was led away to prison. In Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the feuding siblings form an uneasy partnership to take on Black Manta, a vengeance-seeking and now hugely powerful supervillain in possession of the Black Trident, which gives him the ability to command an ancient evil.

"I always pitched this to everyone from the get-go," Wan told EW. "The first Aquaman was Arthur and Mera's journey. The second movie was always going to be Arthur and Orm. So, the first was a romance action-adventure movie, the second one is a bromance action-adventure movie."

For more exclusive intel on Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, read EW's deep dive into the sequel, which swims into theaters this Dec. 20.

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