German actor Dieter Laser — best known to English language audiences as the twisted star of The Human Centipede — has passed away at the age of 78.
Laser portrayed the crazed surgeon Dr Heiter in the 2009 cult horror film, which told the story of his character’s warped desire to stitch three people together in a shared digestive system.
He reappeared in the 2015 threequel The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) as a different, equally evil character — cigar-smoking prison warden Bill Boss.
Read more: Human Centipede 3’s disgusting plot
A message posted to the actor’s official Facebook and Twitter pages on Thursday confirmed that he passed away on 29 February.
Leider müssen wir euch mitteilen, dass Dieter Laser am 29. Februar 2020 verstorben ist.— Dieter Laser (@Dieter_Laser) April 9, 2020
We are very sorry to have to inform you that Dieter Laser passed away on February 29, 2020.
Human Centipede director Tom Six was among those who paid tribute to Laser, referring to him as “a force of nature, an unique human being and an iconic actor”.
He added: “I’m so damn proud we created pop culture together. Wished we could have made many more movies.
“RIP my friend, you will live forever on screen.”
Laurence R. Harvey — who played the lead role in the second Centipede film and co-starred with Laser in the third — said he was “very sorry” to hear of Laser’s death and described the actor as “a gentleman and friend”.
I’m totally shocked Dieter passed away. He was a force of nature, an unique human being and an iconic actor. I’m so damn proud we created pop culture together. Wished we could have made many more movies. RIP my friend, you will live forever on screen! pic.twitter.com/ERGEsY5aZV— Tom Six (@tom_six) April 9, 2020
We're so saddened to hear of Dieter Laser's passing this February.— IFC Midnight (@IFCMidnight) April 9, 2020
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE trilogy wouldn't have been the same without him bringing this iconic villain to life! #RIP pic.twitter.com/UR1yQoAZVP
Sad News. What a legend Dieter Laser was. RIP https://t.co/M527Rc6QVh— James Cullen Bressack (@JamesCullenB) April 9, 2020
Laser began his career in Germany in the late 1960s, working predominantly in television as well as on the stage.
It was his terrifying, serpentine performance in The Human Centipede that brought him to the attention of English language audiences.
The film was immediately controversial and became notorious in cult horror circles for its button-pushing premise and director Six’s willingness to play the provocateur.
Laser’s final role was in horror movie November, which was released in 2017.