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In a mystery that feels as though it was ripped right from the script, director Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the classic horror film Suspiria has fueled a growing rumor about the casting of one of its actors, Lutz Ebersdorf, who may just be Oscar-winning character actress Tilda Swinton in disguise.
The actor, listed as an 82-year-old man born in Munich, Germany on IMDB, has no prior credits on his resume other than Guadignino’s upcoming film. Furthermore, his unusually lengthy biography on the site reads like the backstory of a character that would fit right into the avant garde, disturbing world of Suspiria, a tale of a young dancer who comes to Berlin and stumbles upon a dark, dangerous secret at the heart of a prestigious academy.
“In 1938, when Ebersdorf was just two, his family fled Nazi Germany: first for Geneva in Switzerland, and then to London,” Ebersdorf’s profile reads. “Spending most of his youth in Camberwell, London, Lutz returned to Munich in 1954, where he studied Philosophy, taking a particular interest in Gestalt psychology and Psychodrama.”
Gestalt psychology, for the uninformed, centers on the mind’s ability to “acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world.” Pyschodrama, meanwhile, is a form of therapy in which subjects act out events from their past. It is also a work of fiction in which psychological elements are the main focus — much like Suspiria itself.
Ebersdorf’s role is listed as Dr. Jozef Klemperer, a character not featured in the 1977 original. Dr. Klemperer appears to be a similar role to the original film’s Dr. Frank Mandel, who attempts to uncover the school’s secret. Swinton’s listed credit, on the other hand, is Madame Blanc, the director of the dance academy. In March 2017, a Telegraph gallery titled the “Power of prosthetics and makeup” featured a slide identifying Swinton as playing “a very aged man” on Suspiria.
Thursday’s trailer, featuring both characters, sparked more speculation. The polar opposite characters may lend credence to the rumor Swinton is playing both roles, as the actress playing both sides of the story lends to the plot’s many machinations and surreal sense of paranoia. Furthermore, there is an undeniable similarity between Swinton’s visage and the few photos available of Ebersdorf.
If Swinton is, in fact, disguising herself as Ebersdorf, it would not be the first time such a ruse was pulled in Hollywood. Just last year, rumors heavily implied that Logan Lucky screenwriter Rebecca Blunt was actually the film’s director Steven Soderbergh’s wife, Jules Asner. While never officially confirmed, Blunt has no other listed credits and no solid record of her existence is available.
Throughout his posted bio, Ebersdorf’s past indicates just how likely it is that he does not really exist and was simply created for the sake of the film. Such past accomplishments as co-founding “the experimental theatre group Piefke Versus” — a group which has no online record of existing and described as “a radical performance ensemble heavily influenced by the Vienna Actionists and in particular the work of Hermann Nitsch” in Ebersdorf’s biography — and working as “a practicing Kleinian analyst, specialising in mother-daughter relationships” make Ebersdorf a little too close to the source material to be believable.
Guadagnino, however, insists that the rumors are unfounded. “That’s a complete fake news,” the director told Yahoo Movies UK in February. “They made a picture of my actor Lutz Ebersdorf and they claimed it was Tilda in makeup. I don’t know why and I don’t know who.”
Requests for comment from Swinton, Guadagnino and Amazon Studios were not immediately returned. Ebersdorf has no listed contact.
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