Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Dieter Laser, the actor whom horror fans will know as Dr. Heiter from the controversial film, The Human Centipede. We talked about the aforementioned film, it’s upcoming third entry, his career and much more. So, here it is…
The Cinephiliacs: Thankyou for taking the time to speak with us, here at The Cinephiliacs. We appreciate your time.
Dieter: My pleasure Chris!
Many people who read this interview may have been introduced to your acting work with The Human Centipede, a psychological horror film where you played a sadistic surgeon named Dr. Heiter. I am a big fan of your performance in that film. How did you get the part?
Tom Six, the director of the film had seen me in the German movie “Fuehrer Ex” as a murderer in prison, and he wanted me to become his leading part in The Human Centipede. We had a meeting in Berlin and I was so fascinated by his personality, his passion and competence while listening to his storytelling that afterwards Ilona Six, his sister and fantastic producer and I had a deal by handshake in no time at all…
With the third film in The Human Centipede series, Final Sequence, coming out at some point in the future, what can we expect from the film, and your character of “Bill Boss”?
The plot is genius! The casting is genius! And my character of the monstrous “Bill Boss” is true to his name!
Dr. Heiter has become something of a horror-icon, a character that is terrifying yet has become a cult-favourite because of how effective your portrayal was. How do you feel about this?
Just very thankful that it happened – because you need so many ingredients to give it a chance: You need a good script, a good director, a good director of photography, a good producer, a good cast! Your part has to be a good leading part, it has to be performed in English language and most important: do not look left or right, don’t think about “success” – just do your thing in a way you personally would like to watch it and stay as humble as possible the whole time. All these conditions came luckily together in The Human Centipede project.
Prior to your work with these films, you have had a long career in both English language, and German, films, beginning in the late sixties. How did you begin your career as an actor, and was it something you always wanted to do as a career?
Always! No doubt about it. Even as a very little boy, when I still didn’t know exactly what an actor is, I nevertheless said I’ll become an actor. I started at the age of 18 as an extra at the most important German theatre of it’s time and I was blessed enough to be discovered and promoted by the “Gods”. It took 14 years of obsessive theatre work until I did my first film part “John Glueckstadt”. For this title role I won immediately the “German Film Award in Gold.” But I always continued to make guest appearances in the theatre. Meanwhile I have played on almost all large stages of Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Luxemburg…
Other audiences may remember your role as Mantrid in the sci-fi television show Lexx. What are your memories of the character, and working on the show?
That was great fun! I loved to work with the Canadian guys. They were humorous, flexible and treated the actors as comfortable as the budget allowed, like most English speaking people I had the honor to work with…
It has been said that you are a method actor, someone who puts himself into his characters fully so to give the best performance possible. Is this true, and if so, what is the process like, in terms of getting into the mind of a character prior to shooting?
Yes it’s true that I’m kind of a method actor but not by the book. I already had created my own method and was quite astonished that there were some similarities when I heard of “method acting” the first time. My main tools are seclusion and silence which per se accumulate and save energy. The rest is simple reading the script a “thousand times” and doing nothing else than thinking and meditating over the part. If you read the same novel a hundred times you will know which color the socks of your hero have even though it’s not explicitly written down…
Are there any roles you would love to portray in your career that you haven’t yet, and any film-makers you would like to work with?
All film-makers are very welcome! And all roles which avoid nice grandfathers with candy-bars in hands instead of guns…
Except for The Human Centipede’s third-part, what can we expect from your future in film and television? Do you have anything in the works?
For the time being I’m just in the middle of the rehearsals for the leading part in the German premiere of a new French stage-play “Nos femmes” in the City of Hamburg, Germany. Afterwards I’ll do some more film work in a German-Estonian co-production with a beautiful script and a very interesting director.
For those yet to discover and see your previous work, films you made prior to your English-language roles, which would you point to as some of your proudest moments as a performer, and what should we, as film-fans, check out?
I think this question should be answered by the fans… or one could have a look into the internet to see what’s available and sounds tempting…
Thank you, so much, for your time and your kindness in granting me the chance to ask you these questions for our readers. I am sure they will love reading this interview. I cannot wait to watch you in the upcoming Human Centipede (Final Sequence).
Same to you and to all your readers, Chris!
Who would be stupid enough not to appreciate your interest.