When Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria opens October 26, people will be talking a lot about the film’s many mysterious elements. One of them has already been put to bed, though, thanks to an article by the New York Times.
The Times spoke to both Guadagnino as well as his star Tilda Swinton to discuss the identity of Lutz Ebersdorf, a supposed first-time actor who plays Dr. Josef Klemperer, the film’s third lead. (The first two being Dakota Johnson as dance student Susie Bannion, and Swinton as dance instructor Madame Blanc). Ebersdorf did not appear at any of the film’s premieres or screenings so many discerned he was actually just Swinton herself in heavy makeup. However, at several recent press conferences, both she and Guadagnino denied such accusations.
They were lying.
Swinton is, in fact, under all that makeup. However, the cheekiness of the lie is that Swinton doesn’t believe she was playing Dr. Josef Klemperer. She believes she was playing Lutz Ebersdorf playing Dr. Josef Klemperer. The ruse went so far as Swinton penning a fake IMDB profile for the actor and even having Oscar-winning makeup artist Mark Coulier add a mustache to the ensemble so they could take a photo and use it as a profile photo. (Klemperer does not have a mustache in the movie.)
But wait, there’s more! Swinton wanted a few special things to play this particular man.
“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.”
Swinton plays a third character in the film too—a spoilery one from the film’s finale—and Guadagnino told the Times he was very aware and purposeful in having Swinton play these three particular characters. “This is a movie that is very connected to psychoanalysis,” he said. “And I like to think that only Tilda could play ego, superego, and id.”
To read more about Swinton’s transformation and what it meant for her to play the role, head to this link.