Does Tilda Swinton play the old man in the Suspiria remake after all?

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
Tilda Swinton and ‘Lutz Ebersdorf’ (Credit: Getty/Splash)
Tilda Swinton and ‘Lutz Ebersdorf’ (Credit: Getty/Splash)

There could be a ruse afoot in Luca Guadagnino’s new remake of Italian horror movie Suspiria, involving a supposed psychoanalyst turned actor, some heavy prosthetics and Tilda Swinton.

Thanks to a bit of detective work from Indiewire, it’s thought that Lutz Ebersdorf, an 82-year-old psychoanalyst from Munich who plays Dr. Josef Klemperer in the movie, might be Tilda Swinton in disguise after all.

Guadagnino flatly denied this suggestion earlier this year, after pictures from the film’s set in Italy appeared online in 2017, which seemed to suggest that Klemperer was being played by Swinton in make-up.

(Credit: Amazon Studios)
(Credit: Amazon Studios)

Several outlets at the time, from the Daily Mirror to People in the US, seemed to confirm that Swinton was playing two roles in the movie, that of Madame Blanc and that of an elderly man.

But speaking exclusively to Yahoo Movies UK in February this year, the director denied all knowledge.

“That’s a complete fake news. They made a picture of my actor Lutz Ebersdorf and they claimed it was Tilda in make-up. I don’t know why and I don’t know who,” he said

However, it could be that the director is in on the gag, and there’s evidence to support it.

According to a brief wikipedia entry (which has now been flagged up as a possible hoax), Ebersdorf is said to have been ‘the co-founder of the experimental theatre group Piefke Versus’, a ‘radical performance ensemble’, before moving into psychoanalysis.


This group, it says, was influenced by the avant-garde artist Hermann Nitsch, who is notorious for controversial performances involving crucifixions, blood, animal carcasses and entrails.

However, there is no information at all online about ‘Piefke Versus’, other than the mention in Ebersdorf’s wiki page, and the shocking nature of Nitsch’s work chimes somewhat with what Guadagnino got up to in Suspiria, with early screenings of scenes being described as pretty stomach-churning stuff.

There also appear to be no traces of short films Ebersdorf is supposed to have made online.

His IMDb page says he and his family fled Nazi Germany, landing in Switzerland and then London, before returning to Germany after WWII to study philosophy, and while it adds a little more information, it’s still not a great deal to go on.

Swinton has also radically transformed herself for roles in the past, in movies like Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Orlando, so there is some precedent here.

Tilda Swinton in Grand Budapest Hotel (Credit: Fox Searchlight)
Tilda Swinton in Grand Budapest Hotel (Credit: Fox Searchlight)

However, casting director and executive producer Stella Savino has joined Guadagnino in denying the rumour.

“I confirm to you that Tilda Swinton has played the role of Madame Blanc, while the character of Dr. Klemperer has been played by Professor Lutz Ebersdorf, a psychoanalyst and not at all a professional actor,” Savino told Indiewire.

“I would add this is quite customary in Luca’s work. He likes, or better he adores to go in those directions and to work with real people that he loves to mix-up with professional and terrific actors, like Tilda is.

“He’s an extremely private person who would prefer not to comment at this time.

“We’ve promised him, no matter what, to do our best to protect his privacy; this was part of the deal we closed with him at the time. I’m sure it will be easier to persuade him to grant some interviews when Suspiria will be closer to the release date.”

We suspect they may be held to that.

Suspiria, also starring Dakota Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz and Mia Goth, is due out in November.

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