Suspiria star Tilda Swinton comes clean on secret old man role
Critics watching Suspiria along the film festival circuit have long suspected Tilda Swinton really plays two characters in the movie from Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino. The transformative actress always remained coy on the subject, notably proclaiming to a crowd at the Venice Film Festival that the character of Dr. Jozef Klemperer was played by the seemingly non-existent actor Lutz Ebersdorf. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Swinton officially put this Hollywood mystery to rest and explained her transformation.
She still had a bit of fun with it, of course.
“The answer to the question to me, ‘Are you playing Dr. Klemperer in Suspiria?’ is always that Dr. Klemperer is played by Lutz Ebersdorf,” Swinton wrote in an email, according to The Times. The question reporters should’ve asked her that “curiously, to date, nobody has thought of it” is “are you playing Lutz Ebersdorf?”
“An unequivocal yes,” she confirmed.
Suspiria, a remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 film, stars Dakota Johnson as the new pupil at a prestigious dance academy in Berlin that turns out to be a front for witchcraft. Swinton more prominently features as Madame Blanc, the mysterious school’s instructor.
When asked why she took on the dual parts when there’s no secret reveal in the end that Klemperer is really another character in disguise, Swinton said, “Undeniably, I would have to say, for the sheer sake of fun above all. As my grandmother would have it — a motto to live and die by — ‘Dull Not To.’”
Guadagnino further explained that Swinton playing Klemperer ensured “there will always be this element of femininity at its core.”
Oscar-winning makeup artist Mark Coulier, who transformed Swinton into The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s Madame D. and Meryl Streep into The Iron Lady, revealed just how dedicated Swinton was to her Klemperer transformation.
“She did have us make a penis and balls,” Coulier told The Times. “She had this nice, weighty set of genitalia so that she could feel it dangling between her legs, and she managed to get it out on set on a couple of occasions.” He added that the prosthetics are now “probably in a box somewhere! I should try and find it, and put it on a plaque on the wall of my workshop.”
So, yeah, that happened.
Suspiria will hit New York and Los Angeles theaters on Oct. 26, followed by a nationwide release on Nov. 2. Read the full story on Swinton’s secret role in The New York Times.