Tilda Swinton went deep into character for her new horror film Suspiria.
The Oscar-winning actress, 57, plays two roles in her new film, one of which is an 82-year-old man: psychoanalyst Dr. Josef Klemperer — a character she dived into.
The film centers on ballet dancer Susie (Dakota Johnson) as she uncovers the terrifying secrets behind a world-famous dance company, headed by Madame Blanc (Swinton).
While it was not common knowledge that the actress played Klemperer, she and the film’s director Luca Guadagnino kept the information a secret while filming, going so far as to create the fake identity of Lutz Ebersdorf. They credited him as the actor portraying Klemperer.
It wasn’t until she spoke to the New York Times that Swinton finally admitted that she pretended to be Ebersdorf to play Klemperer.
“The intention was never to fool anybody,” Swinton said. “The genius of [makeup artist] Marc Coulier notwithstanding, it was always our design that there would be something unresolved about the identity of the performance of Klemperer.”
So, how did she transform so dramatically into an elderly man? With the help of Oscar-winning makeup artist Coulier — who created male prosthetics for Swinton.
“She did have us make a penis and b—-,” Coulier said. “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.”
As for creating the rest of her complete facial transformation, Coulier said Swinton’s “slightly androgynous look” helped somewhat but that they still thickened her neck and jaw with prosthetics.
Asked where the male genitalia was kept, Coulier said he had no clue.
“Probably in a box somewhere!” he said, smiling. “I should try and find it, and put it on a plaque on the wall of my workshop.”
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Swinton transformed so completely into a man that she preferred to be called “Lutz” on the set, taking on the false identity of a male actor playing a male character.
Many of the extras and crew members on the set were oblivious, Coulier said.
“They were all like, ‘Is this a famous actor, Lutz Ebersdorf?’ They’d go on IMDb looking for him, and there wasn’t any information,” he said.
Swinton’s only regret in saying goodbye to Ebersdorf was that she couldn’t prolong the ruse until the film was released. Photographs of the actress in costume emerged in March 2017.
“Frankly, my long-held dream was that we would never have addressed this question at all,” she added. “My original idea was that Lutz would die during the edit, and his ‘In Memoriam’ be the final credit in the film.”
Suspiria is in theaters Oct. 26.