With the ability to appear elegant and sinister at the same time, Udo Kier has starred in well over 200 films, but he’s most often remembered for the horror films he’s done. From Blood for Dracula and Suspiria in the seventies, to Blade in 1998 and The Lords of Salem in 2012, his career has spanned decades and he has become one of the most recognizable faces in horror. Kier stars as Andre Toulon in the upcoming outlandish and bloody Puppet Master reboot Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. Dread Central had the pleasure of chatting with Udo Kier about his role in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, working with Andy Warhol, and so much more! Read on to find out what we talked about.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is in theaters, on demand, and digital HD now.
Dread Central: What appealed to you about the character of Andre Toulon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and how did you get the role?
Udo Kier: I made two films with the writer Craig Zahler. One was Brawl in Cell Block 99 with Vince Vaughn, which he wrote and directed. Then he called me and said, “I’m doing a film with Mel Gibson, Dragged Across Concrete, and I wrote it and I’m directing it and I want you to play in it,” which I did. By the way, that film is showing next week at the Venice Film Festival. Then he called me and said, “I wrote Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. I’m not directing it, but I want you to play the Puppet Master.” I had only seen the first Puppet Master and I liked it when the Puppet Master paints the little white face and shakes the heads with his hand and says (whispering), “I take care of you.” Then I read the script and I saw the puppets, but I was not in contact with them. So, that’s how I was in the film. I think the puppets look really fantastic and they’re very evil. I’m not evil, but of course when you play the Puppet Master, automatically you think he is evil. The Puppet Master is much more evil than I am.
DC: Did you do anything special to get into character?
UK: Of course not (laughs). It was great to do three or four hours of makeup. I don’t look in the mirror. You sit in the chair and you see colors of makeup and then you feel the fingers on your face. They do it for hours. Then finally you get up off the chair and you go to a mirror and you (gasp) get a little shock when you look and you are being created. So I was created like the Puppet Master. I saw the puppets, but I did not see them in action.
DC: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is really insane and Charles Band told me he expects it to be controversial. What are you hoping for as far as audience reactions?
UK: As an actor, I’m hoping that people are entertained and like the movie and like the puppets. It’s not a political message. As I said, I liked the first one, but I didn’t see number two, or three, or four. I only saw the first one and it was funny and scary with the technology of 1989. Today of course there is much more technology involved and it’s much easier to create or scare people with sounds. The sound system is better. The technology is so advanced. I just hope that people like the puppets and they like me and when they go out to the movie they’re in a laughing, good mood.
Craig Zahler is a great writer. I’m going to do another movie with him, but I can’t tell you what it is. (scary voice) It’s also very evil. He’s a great writer and a good person. The good thing about him is the script. I’ve done three films with him almost in a row. It’s that he describes things so in detail in the script that it’s very easy for me to take it and make it mine. I have seven films coming out now. I have one film with Tye Sheridan and Jeff Goldblum going to the Venice Film Festival next week. I have a film with Sonia Braga in Brazil. I have a film with Harvey Keitel in the Czech Republic. So, I have a lot of films coming out and they’re not horror films. I do all kinds of movies, but of course people remember me from Andy Warhol’s Dracula and Frankenstein and Shadow of the Vampire, and Blade. For me this is entertainment. I’ve played Adolf Hitler, but only in a comedy. I’ve never played a serious Nazi. It’s all comedy.
DC: You’ve been in over 200 films, but you’re best known for the horror movies you’ve starred in. What do you enjoy about the horror genre?
UK: I must say that when I became an actor I would have never thought that I would be Dracula. I’m a lucky man. I just meet people, so it’s not through an agent or through casting. I was on an airplane and there was a man sitting next to me. He said, “Hey, what do you do?” Americans always want to know what you do (laughs). I said, “I’m an actor.” It was at the beginning of my career. He said, “Interesting. Give me your number.” I gave him my number and I said, “What’s your name?” He said, “My name is Paul Morrissey. I’m the director for Andy Warhol.” I said, “Oh, okay.” Andy Warhol became very famous after that. That was 1972. Then a couple of weeks later I got a call from New York and he said, “Hey! It’s Paul. I’m making the film Frankenstein in 3D and I have a little role for you.” I said, “Great! What do I play?” He said, “Frankenstein.”
So, Frankenstein was my first horror movie and Dracula was supposed to be somebody else, which was also Andy Warhol’s Dracula. On the last day I was sitting in the biggest studio in Rome basically saying goodbye to the studio. Like Andy Warhol says, everybody is famous for fifteen minutes and my fifteen minutes were gone. Then Paul Morrissey, the director of Frankenstein, came in and he said, “Well, I guess we have a German Dracula.” I said, “Who?” He said, “You, but you have to lose ten pounds.” So, I didn’t eat anymore, only salad leaves and water. When we started filming a week later, I was sitting in a wheelchair which looked very photogenic and that’s what happened. I became kind of known for Andy Warhol’s Dracula and Frankenstein, and then came of course, Blade. Then came Suspiria, I’m not a bad guy, just a doctor, and then came Shadow of the Vampire and so on. So, it just started in an airplane being cast by Paul Morrissey for Andy Warhol.
DC: Do you have a favorite horror movie that you’ve worked on and if so, why?
UK: Yes, actors always have a favorite that changed their life. My life was changed with Andy Warhol’s Dracula because he was an arrogant Dracula and I moved from the regular newspaper to the glamour newspaper. I was in Vogue and all the big fashion magazines, not because of me, but basically because Andy Warhol became more and more famous. Andy Warhol’s Dracula I liked the most and I liked Cigarette Burns with John Carpenter. I love it when he brings the film and I open my stomach and put my little insides in the film projector and it runs. People say, “Oh!” I like to do that. When the film Brawl in Cell Block 99 was shown at the Toronto Film Festival and I have my dialogue with Vince Vaughn in jail, everybody went, “Oh! Oh!” At the end when I get shot everybody said, “Yeah!” I think as an actor, if you can get that from the audience, and then you get violently killed at the end and they applaud because you’re dead, that’s wonderful.
DC: Can you tell me about the new projects you have coming up?
UK: I’m going to Vienna on the 18th and I’ll only be there one week with my movie. Then I’m going to make a Belgian movie in Croatia, but I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t have the contract signed yet. Then I’m making another film in Luxembourg and I come back on the 24th of November. And then I get ready for Christmas.
DC: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today!
UK: My pleasure.