The (not-so-kept) secret is out: Tilda Swinton has confirmed she is the actress playing 82-year-old male psychiatrist Dr. Jozef Klemperer in Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria.” For months now, Amazon Studios and “Suspiria” cast and crew have been claiming the character is played by Lutz Ebersdorf, with Swinton even reading a statement on behalf of Ebersdorf at the film’s Venice Film Festival press conference. The actress finally came forward in an interview with The New York Times about Klemperer’s real identity
“Undeniably, I would have to say, for the sheer sake of fun above all,” Swinton replied when asked why she wanted to take on the role. “As my grandmother would have it — a motto to live and die by — ‘Dull Not To.’”
Swinton was transformed into an 82-year-old man with the help of Oscar-winning makeup artist Mark Coulier. The two worked together on Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which similarly forced Swinton to be turned into an elderly person.
“Although she has a slightly androgynous look from sort of a fashion-model point of view, Tilda’s got a very feminine bone structure,” Coulier said.
Coulier “thickened Swinton’s neck with prosthetics and built her jaw out to look heavier and more masculine” in order to turn the actress into Klemperer. Swinton spent four hours in the makeup chair each day to pull off the look. In order to be fully transformed into her male character, Swinton personally requested Coulier make her a male reproductive organ.
“She did have us make a penis and balls,” 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.”
Swinton’s fake penis and balls are “probably in a box somewhere,” Coulier said. “I should try and find it, and put it on a plaque on the wall of my workshop.”
“Suspiria” opens nationwide November 2 following a limited opening in New York and Los Angeles on October 26.