Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria opens this October 26th, with Dakota Johnson playing a dance student who joins an unsettling and nightmarish dance academy under the tutelage of an instructor played by Tilda Swinton (who we still aren’t entirely convinced isn’t a swan masquerading as a human). The film is mysterious and packs an emotional punch (Quentin Tarantino reportedly cried after a screening), but one mystery in particular has finally been illuminated: the real identity of one of the actors.
Suspiria touts the “acting debut” of purportedly 82-year-old retired German psychoanalyst Lutz Ebersdorf, whom nobody had heard of before but who had an IMDb page with a professional headshot of an elderly man with the nice added touch of having a mustache (his character in Suspiria does not have a mustache). Rumors swirled that the actor was somebody famous in prosthetic makeup, with most rumors naming co-star Tilda Swinton (possible swan) as the actor in the Lutz Ebersdorf suit. Now, thanks to an interview with Swinton and director Guadagnino in The New York Times, we have an answer.
Tilda Swinton was indeed the actor behind all that makeup, and (potential spoiler ahead) she also plays a third character in the movie, who we’ll get to in a bit. Lutz Ebersdorf is no longer on IMDb and searches for him now go to Tilda Swinton aka Lutz Ebersdorf.
Swinton now admits she played the character “for the sheer sake of fun above all.” And it does sound like she was having fun with it, including a request to the makeup department to make, in makeup artist Mark Coulier’s words, a “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.”
The director was slightly less jocular about the character, saying that having the only significant male role being played by a female served an important artistic purpose; the film is, at its core, about female identity. As for the third character played by Swinton, that monstrous role isn’t revealed until the end, and Guadagnino had a clear intent in having these three played by Tilda Swinton. He told The New York Times that her three characters represent the ego, superego, and id, roles he says “only Tilda could play.”
In the past, Swinton has denied that she played Dr. Josef Klemperer (the character “Lutz Ebersdorf” was playing), but there’s an explanation for that, too. The way Swinton sees it, she was playing Ebersdorf, and Ebersdorf was playing Klemperer. Okay, fair enough, but will she finally admit that she’s actually a literal swan who’s playing Swinton who’s playing Ebersdorf who’s playing Klemperer? TELL THE TRUTH.
(Via The New York Times)