I’m not very career-driven, never was.
Gus van Sant I met at the Berlin film festival, and he came up to me. He had a little film in the festival called ‘Mala Noche’ that he had made for $20,000. He said: ‘You are one of my favourite actors. I’m doing ‘My Own Private Idaho’ with River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves. You should be in it!’ Then I started working with Gus.
As an actor it gets boring to play always the villain.
I was in ‘Iron Sky,’ the first one, and I liked it very much. I liked the technology being used. The technology has such power.
If everybody would love each other, there would be no war.
People often say to me, especially people from the press: ‘Oh, you are so evil.’ But I’m a gardener. I rescue animals in Palm Springs where I live.
I’m a very quiet person actually.
I like Palm Springs because of the sunshine. It’s a little city surrounded by mountains.
I love the smell of the Earth. I’m a good cook my friends say. I love cooking for my friends. So I’m totally the opposite of being evil. I think only if you’re a good person can you be very evil onscreen.
I never wanted to be an actor. I just wanted to learn languages and travel and see the world.
Sometimes I get a script that says, ‘Only you can play it.’ But I like roles in films with little moments – a hand movement in ‘Melancholia.’ I don’t like the big speeches – the ‘Oscar speech.’ I like to do unusual things on screen.
There are many things, as an actor, where you find that a production just wants you for your name. I am not a big, big, big name, but maybe they can sell the movie if I am in it. This I don’t like.
I’m a totally desert person.
I’m drawn to people who are free in their way of making films.
I’m very laid-back, and I meet people just by accident – never through agencies or anything like that. I met Paul Morrissey, who directed me in ‘Dracula’ and ‘Frankenstein,’ on a plane from Rome to Munich. He asked for my telephone number and wrote it in his passport.
In my real life I’m a very normal person.
I’ve done more than 65 films. I don’t count them anymore. The first 10 you count and then you stop.
Warhol took outcasts and made them into stars. There will never be another artist like him.
When you get older time moves faster – much faster.
I don’t consider myself funny.
If you make horror movies, you always have to think what’s photogenic and what’s not.
I’m very lucky to say that I worked with a lot of directors who cannot make a bad film. Like when Wim Wenders, they cannot make a bad film. They can make a film people don’t like, or it’s the wrong moment.
If David Lynch wants me to audition I will do it. But a young filmmaker, no. I won’t.
You know, I don’t want to waste my time by being in a movie where nobody remembers my part. That’s not interesting at all!
My dream would be to play the villain in a James Bond movie, or opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. I like everything exaggerated.
The best compliment for a director is that an audience hates their films.
Lars von Trier, Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog: They all write, which is much better because it’s their baby, and they know what they want.
I get nervous when I’m sitting in an airplane at 10,000 feet and then the sign comes on: ‘Please fasten your seatbelt for turbulence.’
I want to have fun. Big Hollywood films can be fun, but you know it’s an industry, and if you don’t function, they send you home.
There are a few directors – quite a few – who I would like to work with, but I have never written a letter to a director in my life.
The first day of shooting came, and of course I was nervous. I would lie if I said I wasn’t impressed. I mean, Lars von Trier hiring me to be the king in ‘Medea’… Lars said, ‘Stop! Stop!’ And I was so nervous, I turned around and said, ‘What is it?’ He said, ‘… Just be a tired king.’
My great joy these days is giving palm trees water. Simple as that.
If I hadn’t been an actor, I’d be a gardener.
I don’t like to work with directors who have taken an adoption from another script writer, because it’s too much: one of them writes it and then has to explain it to the other, or maybe the director sees it in a way the writer doesn’t want it.
Sometimes, you can also have a big impact in a film just by doing something unexpected.
With these kinds of figures you can do whatever you want as an actor because there are no guidelines, there are no real vampires. Except in Los Angeles, where everybody’s a vampire, you know?
I have a lot of palm trees, because they say to me holidays and ocean. I grew up very poor and I had an aunt who would go on holiday and send me postcards of palm trees and I would pin them to the wall, so I’ve gone from that fantasy to reality.
I like the vampire films because of the fantasy of it.
I like to work with directors where you feel they make the movies not for the audience, but make them for themselves. They don’t care if it’s a success financially. That’s what I like.
I like special directors, and I’ve collected a few.
In Hollywood, they make movies like they make washing machines. It’s a business. In Europe, the films are considered art. No producer would ever tell a director where to cut a film or how to re-write the script. I love Hollywood, but all of the time I have to go back to Europe.
I try to do movies that are special.
When I’m depressed and the weather is bad I look up my page on IMDb and I have my coffee and feel better. There are even films on there I don’t know about!
My agent is a vampire, my lawyer is a vampire, they’re all vampires, but they don’t suck your blood, they take your money! Vampires are everywhere. It just depends what they’re running after.
I made films, like ‘Shadow of the Vampire,’ and I did not like the work I did on it and then Willem Dafoe was nominated for the Oscar. I made films like ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ with Martin Landau. I thought I would get nominated and it flopped. You never know.
Working with someone like Fassbinder was a 24-hour job. You had to be part of the family, and play his games.
I collect chairs and lights, which obviously means I want to sit in the light – not surprising for an actor I suppose.
I bought a former library, not because I have a lot of books, but also I like architecture, and it was built in 1965, and I like gardening.
I have few friends. I can count them on one hand. I go by myself to the cleaners and the supermarket and I live alone with my dogs.
Evil has no limits. If you are a good person, everybody expects you to be good. If you are very good then you become Albert Schweitzer or Mother Theresa. Then you’re very good because you are helping people. But evil has no limits.
Nobody of us has ever seen ourselves! We see a reflection in the mirror.
I was fascinated by the story of FW Murnau, one of the most famous directors in Germany, where I come from.
I collect furniture and modern art. And I never go to any parties. I rather prefer to go around in nature.
There’s actors and actresses who I call ‘Trailer Stars’ because their importance is expressed by how big their trailers are. And then there are real actors, who are real good people.
There are certain people who I worked with, Pamela Anderson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, they are figures. And they know this. They don’t pretend to be good actors. They were made by the industry into figures.
I was brought up in Germany, born in 1944, and there was nothing to eat.
I like to have the newest thing. I like the Internet, they know more about me than I do, which is amazing.
I’m an aesthetic person who loves beauty.
I’m scared of high buildings.
Audition is the worst thing. It’s like cleaning furniture in a department store.
I don’t wear gloves when I work in the garden.
I’m coming from an artistic background, from Europe, making films with Lars Van Trier like ‘Breaking the Waves,’ ‘Dancer in the Dark,’ all his films, ‘The Kingdom.’ But I like both, I like the totally artificial, commercial films where the actor has five or six bodyguards, I like that.
Until I was 16 or 17, we had no water. My mother had to cook water in a kettle, and once a week I was bathed, and that was it.
The good thing about films is, you never know how good they will be. If there was a formula, there would only be good films!
I like to go from film to film, meeting new people and playing new roles. Because actors are like children: They want to play, and I like to play.
I had such a horrible childhood. My father was already married with three children when I was born and my mother didn’t know. So we grew up poor. We had no hot water until I was 17. I went to work in a factory, and worked and saved for months until I had the money to come to England.
Normally, I like my privacy in the high desert.
Good movies are difficult to make, and good trash is even harder to make.
I don’t mind playing Nazis, but I’ll only play them in comedies. I wouldn’t play a serious Nazi.