When it was officially announced that Tom Six would bring back the star of his first „Human Centipede“ for the final film of the trilogy, fans of the controversial franchise were seriously sent into rapture. German stage and movie actor Dieter Laser had not only provided the demented surgeon Dr. Heiter with his memorable face but also succeeded in creating an instant cult icon. Ever since he got celebrated on conventions worldwide, and when he put on the original Eppendorf white coat once again for a short tongue-in-cheek introduction of the sequel at its London premiere, the audience literally went nuts.
In October 2010 we had already conducted a lengthy interview with the actor concerning his work with Tom Six and his career in general. When EW reported the casting coup on March 2, he agreed spontaneously on an exclusive first statement for us. Delighted to be on board of the franchise again and glad to finally being able to break the silence, he talked in detail about his secret meeting with Tom and Ilona Six last year in London, „bare-knuckle“ negotiations and even his approach to the role. Although originally a Q&A, we decided to publish his narration without interposed questions and simply want to add: Dear Dieter, thanks for your time, your effort and your trust in us.
I am sorry for having kept my mouth shut for so long and talking only cryptically about filming in America with an American crew whenever I got asked about my next movie. But I just had to fulfill my agreement with Tom and Ilona Six. And I still cannot disclose anything that has not been approved by the production so far. But what I can do is to comment on everything that has officially been published and to describe my personal affinity towards all of this. And that is something I gladly do.
TWO CENTIPEDES IN LONDON
On August 10 last year I heard about „Centipede 3“ for the very first time. Before that I didn’t even know for sure whether Tom actually intended to make a third part at all. He bursts with ideas anyway and at the filmfestival in Brussels, even before the „Centipede 1“-premiere in New York, he told me about a totally fascinating plot that he had in the back of his mind. When me and Inge, my wife, flew to London on August 9, I rather expected him to approach me with a plot like that one, a completely independent story. But then it actually was „Centipede 3“ which is again shockingly different from part 1 and 2.
So Inge and me took a magnificent flight to London, moved into a suite in the splendid Waldorf Hilton, had a fabulous dinner, spent a fabulous night, and the next day got a private screening from Tom and Ilona. The two of them had rented a very gorgeous movie theatre where they showed „Centipede 2“ to us, and we were pretty much the first ones who got to see the film at all. I knew, this was meant to be my bunsen burner, the first parboiling of Mr. Laser!
Afterwards we went to the hotel, had dinner together, talked about the film and had a few considerable drinks. However, I stuck with a single beer, telling myself to keep a clear head, just in case there might be negotiations later on! And while we sat there talking and drinking, eyes were repeatedly upon us as if they had spotted Vittorio de Sica or some other legend. Obviously, people recognized us, because „Centipede 1“ was already a cult phenomenon back then. „We are being watched again“, Tom and Ilona said then, „let’s better talk less noisy.“
For a good reason, because after we had finished dinner and talked a lot about the movie, Tom narrated the complete „Centipede 3“, just like he did back in Berlin, when we met for the first time. Shot by shot, detail by detail, and when he finished I was totally enthralled. It was so very sophisticated, so very unexpected, that the first thing we did was to go outside as Ilona and I needed a smoke. To the amusement of the doormen welcoming the cabs outside I immediately began to act out a few elements of the part. His gait for instance. I said, „Look, that’s how he will walk!“ and then demonstrated the way I imagined it. Later on it became apparent again how much Tom, Ilona and myself are tuned to the same wavelength. Already during Tom’s narration I constantly felt like saying, „Oh yeah, and how about adding this and that?“ and so we stimulated each other quite a lot.
Back inside the hotel ordering more drinks my gut instincts were proven right and Ilona said, „We should move over now to a quiet back corner and start the negotiation.“ And although that is usually Inge’s job, I immediately seized the reins and said, „That is up to me again today. We shall stick to the tradition established the first time around with Centipede 1. Inge and Tom stay put and keep drinking, while the two of us dig into our negotiations.” And that’s what we did, and bare-knuckle at that. I always stick to a mantra saying, never threaten somebody with measures you aren’t willing to carry out. But Ilona is a true professional and hence I made an effort to argue effectively. It was really tough. Finally we came to a point where Ilona realised that we had reached the end of the road. So we sealed the whole thing with handshake and were both completely happy as we had met exactly in the middle between her offer and my claim. And that is of course the best negotiation result you can achieve. Thus we went back to the others totally pleased and said to Tom, „It’s a deal.“
After that we discussed the politics a little and laid down that I had to keep my mouth shut until I received information about what I was allowed say. Hence since August 11, the day we went back home, I kept talking cryptically about a film I was shooting in America, with American actors and a solely American crew. That was all I was allowed to say. Meanwhile it is official that Laurence and I are playing the leading parts. Tom himself will be in the film as well and I was rolling on the floor laughing when he told me how that comes about. It is unbelievably hilarious! People will bust a gut. But what I like about the whole story in general so very much is the fact that it will be „100% politically incorrect“. That is something I’m looking forward to a lot.
WAITING FOR THE SCRIPT
Tom always said, „You will get the final draft of the script two months before the shooting. I don’t want to send you a script that hasn’t incorporated the location and the state we shoot in.” And that is why I will reveive it via FedEx as recently as tomorrow [March 3]. The shooting starts in May in a Southern State, but I won’t say which one yet. I even scheduled my flight back already, because Ilona had to guarantee me a certain date. Because if everything works out fine I will be on stage at the Nibelungen Festival Worms in August. It would be a seamless passage and a true pleasure entering the stage after such an extreme and intense method acting thing. You couldn’t possibly be more relaxed, and both sides benefit from cross-fertilization. Also, the whole Worms thing is some truely top-class and expensive outdoor theatre with any technological achievement one can think of. The sound alone is of cinematic quality and can perfectly be heard up to the last seat. And also the lighting is absolutely brilliant. Unbelievable, what they are capable of!
But back to „Centipede“: Although I don’t know the final draft of the script yet, Tom and I had quite some correspondence in the meantime with suggestions for costume, accessories and so on. „It’s amazing how much we are in line with each other“, he wrote me again in his last email. It shall be a true pleasure for me to see how many details that we talked about are already in the script, but that shows again what a brilliant frequency the two of us share – or rapport, as the psychologists say. Our rapport is just phenomenal.
Also the contract that I have is very fantastic, because Ilona knows exactly how much certain requirements that look strange at first sight, are of decisive benefit for the final product. In this respect, Tom and Ilona have a truly Anglo-American way of working, meaning, you as an actor are handled with kid gloves and utmost care, but at the same time are put in charge of your role. You have to deliver. And operating with such a responsibility is a lot of fun for me and a thousand times better than a sheer „Raise your right arm, go left, make another step backwards and then, no, turn over your left shoulder, not the right one etc.” All of this does not happen.
PAINTED FINGERNAILS IN THE BERLIN OFFICE
When I receive the script tomorrow, I will immediately leap at it and move into my private mental training camp. Until the shooting begins I will not concentrate on anything else, because the result is meant to be really cool. I’ll seclude myself and either lock the doors of my workroom or leave the apartment completely. Then I’ll put the script under my arm and tell Inge „I’ll be at the office“, which is Berlin itself, somewhere outside, a café or a train station or an airport or some other place that I feel ideal for the first encounter with the script. Because that is a very important moment.
We’ve all experienced it before: you go to the movies, watch a film and consider it crap. But maybe half a year later, or one year later, or five years later you go like „What a great piece of art! What a marvellous film!” And the fact that you didn’t catch fire the first time was due to your very own form on the day. And your form on the day can just as much be the reason for a script not leaping to the eye immediately. This is the famous first encounter, the first impression, and just like in a job interview this first impression is essential. It is something you have to arrange carefully. And that means I’ll have to paint my fingernails, before I open the script, I’ll have to brush my teeth, put some perfume on and possibly even have to get a perm – in a metaphoric sense of course.
But maybe I won’t read at all and instead sit down and transcribe the whole thing into my final draft. Because there is actually something like a muscular memory. And it gets activated by means of manual writing. It’s a way to learn things easily, and moreover you discover subtleties unnoticed when reading regularly. You taste them on your tongue, if you will. And when you’re done and everything is transcribed, you get the feeling that the text belongs to you a little more. Even though that is complete nonsense. Your body will simply say: It’s me who wrote this script. And so it’s my very own script then, and that is the one I’ll print out. And maybe I will visit my Berlin Office only then – but this is something I’ll decide spontaneously and according to my gut instincts. Just like I always do.
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