Tilda Swinton finally confirms a unique dual role in Suspiria

Lewis Collier
October 12, 2018

Tilda Swinton used prosthetics and make-up to pose as an 82-year-old man in an elaborate hoax for her latest film.

After pictures emerged showing a resemblance between Swinton and Ebersdorf's character, a male psychoanalyst named Dr Josef Klemperer, director Luca Guadagnino dismissed suggestions they were the same person as "fake news".

She passed herself off as first-time actor Lutz Ebersdorf in a remake of the 1977 supernatural thriller Suspiria. Swinton also plays a leading role of a dance troupe director in the movie.

Guadagnino admits he was bummed when set photos leaked two years ago that pretty plainly showed Swinton in this old age makeup and spoiled the ruse, and Swinton said she had hoped the secret would be kept forever, killing off Lutz during the edit and dedicating the finished film to his memory. The way Swinton sees it, she was playing Ebersdorf, and Ebersdorf was playing Klemperer.

The director was slightly less jocular about the character, saying that having the only significant male role being played by a female served an important artistic goal; the film is, at its core, about female identity.

Suspiria has a surprise in store: Tilda Swinton in a dual role.

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As for why she played Ebersdorf playing Klemperer, she cited a motto her grandmother lived by, and one I want to tattoo all over my body immediately: "Dull Not To". However, the cheekiness of the lie is that Swinton doesn't believe she was playing Dr Josef Klemperer. "This is a movie that is very connected to psychoanalysis", he said, "and I like to think that only Tilda could play ego, superego and id".

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's fake penis and balls are "probably in a box somewhere", Coulier said.

The ruse might have held longer had a paparazzo not snapped a photo of Swinton as Ebersdorf during production in Berlin, then sold it to USA services two winters ago as a picture of Swinton as disguise. "The genius of Mark Coulier notwithstanding, it was always our design that there would be something unresolved about the identity of the performance of Klemperer". The film is mysterious and packs an emotional punch (Quentin Tarantino reportedly cried after a screening), but one mystery in particular has finally been illuminated: the real identity of one of the actors.

She told The New York Times: 'Frankly, my long-held dream was that we would never have addressed this question at all.

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