To be an actor means to engulf yourself completely in your character’s identity. Tilda Swinton just took that meaning to the next level when she secretly portrayed a man.
In the upcoming horror film “Suspiria,” a remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 horror classic, Swinton portrays Madame Blanc, the head of an all-female dance studio. However, she also had a secret part only recently revealed to the world at large.
If you looked up the IMDB page for “Supsiria,” you would see Swinton’s name alongside other Hollywood mainstays, like Dakota Johnson and ChloÌÇ Grace Moretz. If you looked harder, you’d see first-time, male actor, Lutz Ebersdorf. The accredited 82-year old has his own IMDB page and a list of facts about his life.
Turns out, it was Swinton in makeup all along.
The 57-year old actress has a reputation for being a kind of chameleon, blending into whatever role suits her best and leaving out all possibility she’s anyone but her portrayal on screen. From the “White Witch” in Chronicles of Narnia to playing a David Bowie-like glam figure in A Bigger Splash.
She kept the portrayal of Ebersdorf a secret, telling no one besides her partner-in-crime, director Luca Guadagnino. She told the New York Times, ”The answer to the question to me, ‘Are you playing Dr. Klemperer in ‘Suspiria’? is always that Dr. Klemperer is played by Lutz Ebersdorf.”
Funnily enough, no one ever asked her, “Are you playing Lutz Ebersdorf?” to which Swinton replied, “an unequivocal yes.”
So, of course, her role required a pair of testicles.
To capture the role of an aging Dr. Klemperer in the film, Swinton and Guadagnino asked Oscar-winning makeup artist, Mark Coulier, for help.
He told the New York Times:
She did have us make a penis and balls. 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.
Once news broke of Swinton’s secret, fans on Twitter posted their support of her shape-changing prowess.
Finally, when asked why she went through all the trouble of creating an entirely new identity and keeping it under wraps as long as she did, Swinton said, “Undeniably, I would have to say, for the sheer sake of fun above all. As my grandmother would have it a motto to live and die by “Dull Not To.”
“Suspiria” featuring Swinton and starring Dakota Johnson as a young dancer who enrolls in an all-female dance academy in Berlin, only to discover it is run by a coven of witches, comes out October 26.