INT: Udo Kier

The Fantasia Film Festival is in its eighth year here in the great city of Montreal and has grown larger and larger since its inception in 1996. The festival features “genre” movies mostly in the vein of science fiction or horror. So I wasn’t surprised in the least when I heard that Udo Kier, everybody’s favorite indie / German / killer / oddball / vampire was coming to town to promote a couple of his films (ONE POINT O and GATE TO HEAVEN). I screened ONE POINT O the night before and all I can say is if you need some more atmospheric paranoid head-fucking films in your film diet, make an appointment to catch this crazy flick which also boasts Jeremy Sisto, Lance Henriksen and Deborah Unger in its cast (read the Arrow's review of the film here).

Now I’ll probably never meet a real vampire in my life, but if I am, this was going to be my best shot at it. I arranged an interview with the great Mr. Kier and got ready to meet him. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, he’s a world-renowned actor that’s appeared in cult favorites like ANDY WARHOL’S DRACULA and MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, blockbuster smashes like ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE, BLADE and ARMAGEDDON as well as some of today’s most critically respected and acclaimed films (almost all of Lars von Trier’s films).

So, as I pocketed my last clove of garlic and splashed some aftershave on (holy water) I was expecting to meet a very private, intimidating and stern man (no, not JoBlo). Instead I found Udo to be a very relaxed, jovial and friendly man. He led to me a popular cinema-themed eatery (the same place he’d been the night before, drinking vodka and having a grand ole time) near my house as we sat down and chatted about his films, his life and his victims*…

*That’s the last of the lame “he’s a vampire” gags, I promise.


I know why you chose ONE POINT ZERO, you like going after dark, quirky parts in films. Is there anything else that attracted you to this script?

Well, it’s not that I go for dark films, it was a very good script and I had met the directors already two years prior to shooting the film because their financing fell through. So, I was very familiar to the script. I don’t go by dark stories; it’s the same when I do comedy. I like scripts and for every actor the first and most important thing to make a movie is the script. Sometimes you have a good script and you make a bad movie, sometimes it’s a bad script, you make a good movie. There are no rules. And dark films and dark roles, whatever you name it - is more interesting. Everybody likes vampires, everybody likes evil stuff. Because the good stuff, well, the evil fantasy, in film you can go as far as you want. I saw a film here, people liked very much the werewolves, female werewolves. It’s a lot of fun to make those movies. I started off making totally different films and then one day I met Paul Morrissey who was working for Andy Warhol. That’s how I made Frankenstein and Dracula and after they offered me a lot of horror films…

The owner of the eatery approaches.

Udo: Hey, I’m living here!

Owner: You’re leaving today?

Udo: No, I do interviews here and I’m here at night… (back to the interview) So, I didn’t want to be typecast to always do films in one direction. But still, when people recognize me, they always say: “Ah, Blade!” so it’s always Blade. Armageddon, there I just play a doctor - they don’t care.

Yeah, or the von Trier movies or Ace Ventura. The von Trier movies are very dramatic and different from anything else, that’s one thing they should recognize, at the very least.

I think the people don’t have – you see, in his second or third film, where I had the lead and then in DOGVILLE I had such a small part. But for me, it doesn’t matter, we are very good friends, I made ten films with him and it doesn’t matter how big the part is. As long as you’re involved with it, you’re part of the movie, that’s important.

I know you’ve been in nearly all of his films, except for, I think, THE IDIOTS, and I wanted to know if you could talk about DIMENSION [a film which will be shot within a span of thirty actual years, set to be released in 2024], which is very unique…

We’re not allowed to talk about it…


There is nothing to talk about. The only thing is that we shoot every year around Christmas and we shoot three minutes. I mean, we shoot one day but he needs three minutes and the opening will be in 2024. I mean we don’t know what we to do, I mean he (von Trier) does but there is no concept, there is no concept for thirty years. The only concept is three minutes and that the opening will be in the year 2024.  And we go, Jean-Marc Barr and myself, we started the movie, ten people that were working the movie, two people have already died. So, it’s like friends meeting again and having fun. It’s interesting. I hope I will make it because it must be amazing to see yourself getting thirty years older in 90 minutes, without make-up. You lose your hair, you lose your teeth, whatever you lose - you lose.

The other film I didn’t do was THE IDIOTS because of the language because it was shot in Danish. THE KINGDOM was also shot in Danish and I spoke Danish in the film for the dubbing purposes. I was dubbed by a baby. But yeah, he’s a great director and he’s one of the few directors who I trust could never make a bad movie. You cannot say that about a lot of people. I mean David Lynch is maybe one of them, Tarantino. They are directors that I would like to work with cause they’re wonderful.

I wanted to ask about Lynch, I’m pretty upset that you haven’t been in a Lynch movie. I mean… it’s perfect for you.

Don’t tell me.

Have you ever met him? He must know that you –

We met once but he was busy in his mind because he was editing a movie and I was doing a photo shoot. I would love to work with him. They wanted me, actually, they wanted me for TWIN PEAKS. And I just came to America, I was under contract to do MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO and it was very tricky with the dates and then they gave up because they didn’t want to have a confrontation. But then I had not met him. But in LOST HIGHWAY, the perfect role for me would have been the role of Mr. Blake. I hope I work with Tarantino because I heard he’s now doing a WWII…


There must be a role for me in there.

I certainly hope so.

But there are a few directors. Tarkovsky, I met him and he died. He would have worked with him. But also I like to work with new directors, young directors. I just did a film with Andrew Von Houten, called HEADSPACE. Andrew’s a first time director. Because when directors direct their first film they have a lot of energy because if you’re familiar with this industry you know how long it takes to find money to make a movie. And they know also, they have to be good. I mean, you can convince people to give you money for a movie but then if you make one and you want to make another one, people want to see the movie. And sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not.

I was wondering if you could tell me about one of the fondest memories you’ve ever had on set, from when you started in 1966 to the present?

That’s difficult to say, you always remember films that changed something in your life. Andy Warhol, Paul Morrissey, Frankenstein and Dracula definitely changed things and then when I made the French erotic movies, they changed things in a commercial way. I try to always have good moments; that’s why I cannot remember because when I make movies I try to always have a good time, because I demand to have a good time. You know, I talk to everybody, for me I give the electrician the same importance as the make-up artist. Because you do it together and especially in an independent film, you have a kind of responsibility on your shoulders. Because you are the one who sells the films, you are the one who presents it. So you have to be good. I don’t like arrogant actors anyway, I worked with a few of them. I think it’s insecurity. I mean it doesn’t cost anything to be friendly. Some people think they should be a star - then behave like a star.

Do you have a philosophy on life? How you look at it…

In my private life I’m totally the opposite of what I present in movies. I like to cook, I rescue dogs, I have three dogs, I like gardening, I like to plant trees. I think to be the devil you have to be angel. Only an angel can play the devil because the devil was a fallen angel. I like to enjoy life; I don’t like amateurs in my profession. I like to live, I like to live every moment of my life and sometimes I forget that I’m not eighteen anymore and jump around and dance. I must laugh at myself and say: “You’re going to be sixty this year.” But I’m healthy, I’m kicking, I had a lot of vodka last night, but I’m okay. I’m a little bit transparent.

I was wondering if you could tell me about some of your favorite films that people might be surprised to hear are your favorites?

I think I have favorites like everybody else, I like Douglas Sirk’s films, I like Hitchcock, Polanski; there are so many good films out there – CITIZEN KANE. I couldn’t pick one out. I was the president of the festival in Moscow and I really had to fight to give the first prize to AMORES PERROS. They were all very old gentlemen in the jury, some professors and they couldn’t understand why I was fighting for AMORES PERROS and then I wrote them all an e-mail when it was nominated for the Oscar, that my decision was right. When I was younger I liked the early Ken Russell films, now I don’t like him.

THE DEVILS was really good.

Well, THE DEVILS was the kind of film which really left me speechless. It was the same when I saw ELEMENT OF CRIME (Lars von Trier, 1984) the first time at a festival in Germany. I had made a short film and it was in competition the same evening as Lars’ film. I saw ELEMENT OF CRIME with all the directors from all over the world and he had not arrived and I said: “Well, we cannot go home because his film is going to win the first prize.” I said to the festival director there is only on person I would like to know it’s the person who made this film. Then we met and he offered me a movie, gave me a script but he never made that movie.

So he offered me MEDEA (TV movie) and it was the first time we worked together and the rest you know. I just finished the movie MANDERLAY (von Trier), I was in Sweden for 5 weeks, the same place where we shot DOGVILLE. I don’t know if people will like it, it’s a film about slavery. It’s Lauren Bacall, Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe, myself, Jean-Marc Barr…so it’s good people. It’s always good to work with Lars because he doesn’t like actors who act. So it’s just like you have to be there, and you be. You have to be. And if you’re not he will tell you, in front of everybody. He will say: “A thousand percent less.” And then you do nothing.

All right, I’m going to put this up soon and hopefully David Lynch will read it and finally put you in his –

Yeah, e-mail him. E-mail David Lynch… (laughing)

I will. I will try…

Sometimes I see great filmmakers and I know I wouldn’t fit in their kind of movie, but David Lynch is so much in that direction.

Source: JoBlo.com



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