Udo Kier’s New Film “Swan Song” to Have Q&A in Palm Springs on Saturday
In his five decades of acting in over 200 films, Udo Kier has seen and done a lot. But the Palm Springs resident, 76, never had to channel Liberace, step onto a drag bar stage with a lit chandelier on his head, and dance to Robyn’s hit song “Dancing On My Own.” .
It’s a moment from Kier’s new film, “Swan Song,” which perfectly sums up the electrifying protagonist, a retired barber who is asked to style a former client’s hair at his funeral and ends up to rediscover oneself.
But for Kier, the timing was a little intimidating.
“I couldn’t believe it when they told me that,” Kier said recently in his Palm Springs home. “They told me it was going to light up, and I said ‘you must be kidding’.”
It was worth it, however. Reviews of the low-budget film, written and directed by Todd Stephens, were “the greatest success” of the actor’s career, he said, although he worked with everyone from Lars von Trier to Paul Morrissey and has been in films such as The 1977 Cult Classics “Suspiria” and “Bacurau”, which won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.
His roles are often supportive and, with his piercing blue eyes, sometimes even mean (as in “Blood for Dracula” and “Bacurau”).
But “Swan Song” is different.
The German-born actor, who has made his home in the desert for over a decade, is the star from start to finish. As Pat, a true hairstylist from Stephens’ hometown, Kier takes the audience on a journey that includes visiting a lawyer to come out of retirement and style the hair of a former client (Linda Evans) for her funeral for $ 25,000; escape from a retirement home; hitchhiking in Sandusky, Ohio, from a stranger; meet a nemesis (Jennifer Coolidge) and have hilarious and petty exchanges; and becoming the Pat he once was.
Palm Springs audiences will have the chance to see the film and attend a question-and-answer session with Kier at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. Tickets can be purchased on the Palm Springs Cultural Center website.
For Kier, everything “was there”: the script, a good director and a great cast. Now he’s curious how the Palm Springs audience will react, especially younger viewers.
“I think because a lot of people are my generation, they will like it and laugh,” he said. “But young people, I don’t know. I want to see young people and how they embrace it.”
Whenever Kier is presented with a new project, having a solid relationship with a director is one of the most important aspects that help him take on it.
Kier invited Stephens to Palm Springs, where they discussed the film, and the actor agreed to star there.
Stephens, 71, shot two other films, “Edge of Seventeen” and “Gypsy 83,” in his hometown of Ohio. Both are coming of age stories with gay characters.
“Sometimes you get a good script and you just don’t get along with the director, so why make the movie and suffer,” Kier said. “But we got along really well. The strong sense of humor in the film was also a bonus.
In “Swan Song,” the Pat the audience first meets is tired, looks rather defeated in a drab retirement home, and is dressed in gray sweatpants that don’t flatter anyone. When presented with the opportunity to style a former client’s hair, he isn’t initially interested, especially since she skipped her partner’s funeral after her death from AIDS.
But once he sees a chance to escape his less-than-glamorous life, old Pat begins to return, ditching the sweatpants for a green pantsuit, sequins, and fabulous hats.
Throughout his journey, he remembers the life he once had in Sandusky, especially when he returns to the site of his old home he shared with his partner. He meets his former assistant turned rival, played by Coolidge, who led to the destruction of his business after he opened his barbershop right across from his and took his clients.
But the real heart of this movie is inside the drag bar, which Pat and his partner helped open, and which Pat now visits on his last night before it becomes a craft beer micro-pub. . The weather can be cruel, and sometimes change isn’t always for the better, and Pat must struggle with the two inside a place that has allowed him to be free himself.
Because the film follows a specific path, Kier said it was important for him to film as chronologically as possible. He spent a night at the nursing home, without cameras, to get a feel for the room, the bed and where this man spent his days. When filming began in Sandusky, the Main Street became a movie set in a way, and a store and theater were all used in the movie.
While in town, Kier was able to meet some of Pat’s true friends, which helped guide him as he became the “Liberace of Sandusky,” as he at one point called him. of the movie. They showed him how Pat smokes cigarettes (in the movie his arm is straight out in front of him with a slight bend in the wrist), and he saw the old barber shop Pat owned and the bar he frequented.
Stephens also wrote a solid screenplay, Kier said, so he didn’t “have to make up too many things” when portraying Pat. The most important thing, however, was not to overdo the performance, since the real Pat has been described as “very flamboyant and over the top”. Kier has kept his portrayal tame, though the fabulousness always comes out, like in the drag bar where sparks fly for Pat, in more ways than one.
The film not only shows Pat’s journey, but also focuses on the change between generations. The real Pat, and other gay men, have had to sneak into gay bars before, Kier noted; todayAcross the world there are gay bars that proudly operate and welcome all guests. In “Swan Song”, when Pat returns to the drag bar, he sees how that has changed and how the younger generation isn’t very grateful, maybe not even aware, of the work the previous generation has done to open up. the way to acceptance. Even the people of Sandusky are much nicer than before.
Kier said he doesn’t worry until the movie premieres, so he’s calm before Saturday. Friends he showed “Swan Song” for laughing and crying, which he says is a good sign.
“I’m not stopping”
Kier is a number, and if he was a bettor he would have put all his money on number seven. On October 14 (7 + 7) he will be 77 years old. And if this year’s success is any indication of what’s possible, he could be heading into the best year of his life.
Kier is currently filming “Hunters”, the Amazon Prime Video series with Al Pacino. He will also have another film, “My Neighbor, Adolf”, which will be released soon.
After months of working on projects and tracking COVID-19 protocols on sets, he can’t wait to take a few months off. In his spare time, he will continue to garden at his Palm Springs home. He will also be spending time at his ranch in the Morongo Valley.
“I like to water my trees, smell the earth,” Kier said. “I really like.”
His Palm Springs home, the Francis F. Crocker Library designed by Albert Frey, is full of art and sculpture of all kinds. He thinks he’s a bit of a collector, so he might have other items to add to his collection.
But is this legendary actor ready to sing his swansong and get away from the big and small screen altogether?
“I’m not stopping,” Kier said, outright.
Timetable of the “Chant du Cygne”
Palm Springs Cultural Center
Saturday: 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. (Q&A) and 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday: 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Mary Pickford Theater
Saturday to Thursday: 1:35 p.m., 4:25 p.m. and 7:20 p.m.
Palm Desert Cinema 10
Saturday: 12:30 p.m., 2:50 p.m., 5:10 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Sunday to Thursday: 11:30 a.m., 1:50 p.m., 4:10 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Hours according to fandango
Ema Sasic covers the health and functionality of The Desert Sun. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ema_sasic.