Udo Kier-Cult Actor

Udo Kier-Cult Actor
by Sherif Awad
Last July, the Karlovy Vary Film Festival received
German-born and now California-based cult actor Udo Kier to present his latest
film “Zero” by Hungarian director Gyula Nemes. The film mixed genres and styles
to send a message about how the world should respect bees and honey for the
sake of the future of life on Earth. Given the fact that the film viewers at
Karlovy Vary Festival are usually very sophisticated due to their background as
film critics and cinema professional, Kier tried to light up their readings of
the film by explaining that it has a very simple message and no political or
symbolic innuendos at all. Kier is also very simple and down to earth artist.
He is the complete opposite to the tense and villainous roles he used to play
since 1966, which were in horror, science and erotic thrillers.
“If bees die, we die… This is the message of the film… There
no need to say but …but… but…  ”, he put
it when we sat down after the screening of “Zero”… “People must take notice
that the climate of Earth has shifted: While
there are floods in Texas, there are restrictions on watering land in
California. We are permitted to water three times a week otherwise we get a
ticket for 500 Dollars”…
Udo Kier was born 1944 in Cologne, Germany, during World War
II. On the evening of his birth, the hospital was bombed but he and his mother
were rescued from underneath the rubble. After a move to Britain to study
English when he was eighteen, Kier took a few acting courses then was
eventually offered a role by director Michael Sarne in “Road to Saint Tropez”
(1966).  Kier’s first hit film was also “Mark
of the Devil” (1970) although it was banned in 31 countries for its extreme
graphic violence and sexuality in reference to the standards of those days. Kier,
who thinks that luck played great role in his start, met director Paul
Morrissey on an airplane trip. After Morrissey wrote his number inside a page
of his passport, Kier got a call from the director who offered him the lead
role in the 3-D Flesh for Frankenstein (1973). It was this film, along with its
sister film “Blood for Dracula”(1974), that made Udo a cult figure.
Before “50 Shades of Grey”, there was “The Story of O” one
of Kier’s earliest starring roles. In 1975, the film was banned in the UK in
1975, until it was passed by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in
2000. Meanwhile, it was a big hit in Paris and played for 52 weeks in
Champs-Élysées cinemas and so people took the train from the UK to France to
see it there. Udo Kier played the role of the handsome young man René who takes
his beautiful girlfriend O to a remote house where she is subjected to sexual
S&M by rich men seeking strange ways of pleasure. “I remember there was a
lot of objections from women’s rights movement claiming that the film shows
women in an inappropriate way ”, said Kier about “The Story of O” which is  now considered a cult classic. I have not
seen 50 Shades of Grey but I read its reviews and watched its trailer. I think
hot things happen 30 minutes through it not like in my film”, laughed Kier.
The Internet Movie Data Base states that Kier made around
224 films shot around the world. “After all these movies, I am more interested
now in my private life, in my land and my animals”, said Kier in a humble way. “In
cinema, I look for something I have never done… I played The Pope, Adolf
Hitler, vampires, scientists and transvestites. I look for something to provoke
me …, which is difficult but not impossible… In 2011, I played a puppet
narrating the anthologies in a film called Theatre Bizarre, which I
liked because throughout the film, the puppet transforms gradually to a human
being when it reaches the final story… I guess that the film industry changed
since I have begun. There is too much technology to the extent I needed to
adapt myself to perform to camera that were getting smaller and smaller through
the years…  ”
Although he is based in the US since the 1970s, Kier is
still offered roles in Europe. “Directors are still having control of their
films and its final cuts till now. A European studio cannot come to a director
like Lars von Trier and tell him we want to recut your film”, explained Kier. “In
America, especially in big studios, the executives can still control the fate
of a film if they didn’t like the director’s edited version”
Only few years ago, Kier succeeded to buy a car he dreamt of
buying when he was moneyless young man. He is keeping it at the entrance of his
house with no intention of driving it. “I like to watch it every day to know
that it was of my dreams I fulfilled… I always wish I will have unfulfilled
dreams because this will keep me going on”

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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