“My name is Udo,” says Udo Kier sitting in his house in Palm Springs, a transformed library constructed by Swiss architect Albert Frey. The German actor – whose greater than 260 display screen credit embody movies by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Gus Van Sant, Lars von Trier and Alexander Payne – has linked by Zoom for our name, which I had been informed was no certainty, as a result of his lack of technical savvy. Before we will begin the interview Kier takes me on a video tour of his home – declaring the artwork assortment, with works by Andy Warhol and David Hockney, and a life-size plastic deer, with a bandaged leg.
We are joined on the decision by Scottish actor David Hayman, supping from a pint of Guinness, and Israeli producer Haim Mecklberg. But the topic of our dialog lies elsewhere, in a distant nook of Colombia, the setting for the tragicomedy “My Neighbor Adolf,” directed by Leon Prudovsky, and being bought at Cannes Market by Beta Cinema.
In the movie, set in 1960, Polsky (performed by Hayman), a lonely, grumpy outdated man, spends his days enjoying chess and tending his beloved rose bushes. News has simply reached the city that Nazi felony Adolf Eichmann has been kidnapped by brokers of the Israeli secret service, Mossad, in Argentina.
The secluded existence of Polsky, a Holocaust survivor, is interrupted by the arrival next-door of an outdated German man (Kier), with a beard that appears prefer it is perhaps false, and heavy-framed darkish glasses.
Polsky turns into satisfied this new arrival is none apart from Adolf Hitler himself. Naturally, no one believes him, so he embarks on a mission to collect proof, and with a purpose to do that, he befriends the outdated German, who goes by the identify of Mr. Herzog.
Mecklberg has recognized Prudovsky for the reason that director was at movie faculty, and when he noticed Prudovsky’s commencement movie, “Dark Night” (2005), which was proven at Venice, he “fell in love with it.” He provided to provide Prudovsky’s debut function movie, “Five Hours from Paris,” which was launched in 2009. After making a brief collectively, 2012’s “Welcome and… Our Condolences,” their paths parted as Prudovsky went off to work in tv, however seven years in the past the director got here to Mecklberg with the thought for “My Neighbor Adolf.”
Kier remembers when Prudovsky got here to see him on New Year’s Eve, after Kier had learn the script, and preferred it. “I realized he was very precise, he knew exactly what he wanted,” Kier says. “And my next question, the most important question, was: ‘Who is going to be my partner?’” Learning that it was Hayman – whose credit embody “Sid and Nancy,” “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” and TV collection “Taboo” – and having happy himself that this was the correct man, he signed up for the venture.
“I like movie where there are, basically, two main actors,” he says. “It is the story of these two old… old? I mean, experienced men, with different totally backgrounds.”
His first impulse was to not meet Hayman till the shoot, adopting a Method Acting method, however they did meet beforehand. “We got to know each other and we really connected right away, and we had a great time,” Kier says.
“We had a wonderful journey. It was a love fest from the beginning,” Hayman says. “Udo is an absolute sweetheart. He is a pain in the ass as well. He never shuts up. He makes far too much noise on set. But he’s just a wonderful human being.”
Hayman believes the 2 of them “created some screen magic.” There’s additionally some hilarity. It’s like a cross between “Rear Window” and “Grumpy Old Men,” he says. “That’s the spirit of the film.”
As with Kier, Hayman was drawn initially by the script. “In the beginning is the word. It all begins with a story on a page, and it was such a beautiful script, and I think any actor worth his or her salt would absolutely respond to it,” he says. “It was just such a beautiful journey of two men, coming from polar opposite starting points, full of hatred and bitterness, both their lives have been destroyed by Nazism and the war, and Polsky’s family gassed in the concentration camps.”
In one scene they attempt to strangle one another, in one other Herzog units his canine on Polsky, however by enjoying chess collectively Polsky and Herzog start to bond, and it emerges that the explanation Polsky survived the camps was as a result of his capability to play chess.
“It is about their extraordinary journey together – they have to build the relationship and they do it through chess. It’s a wonderful story of redemption and forgiveness, and finding the best in each other and overcoming your hatred and your prejudices,” Hayman says.
Mecklberg says: “The way they treat each other is like they are playing chess with each other, with Polsky always calculating three moves ahead. But this is really just the means by which they start to understand each other.”
He provides: “Although the film is really witty and funny, also very mysterious and dramatic and entertaining, it carries a very current and important message, a beautiful message I think. Because here we have two people who hate each other because of their different pasts and the different ideas they have, and because of accents and culture, and just because they are different, and slowly they learn to know each other. Basically it is all about fear – we fear the different, we fear the other. But once you shed the fear and you get courageous enough to understand the other one, to meet him, you meet another human being, and you know they are not really different.”
Asked how they saved the steadiness between comedy and tragedy within the movie, Hayman says: “The secret is to play the truth. You don’t play the comedy, and you don’t play the drama, you play the truth of the situation and the truth of the characters.” He provides: “It’s a sitcom with a great dramatic underbelly to it.”
Mecklberg says, having seen an early minimize of the movie: “It’s way funnier than the script was because it was so truthful. Whenever the reaction of David and Udo was real it was really funny because the situation is extreme, and you can either get scared by it or get a great laugh out of it.” It was dramatic on the identical time, Hayman provides.
Although Kier hopes he enjoys the film – it’s in submit so he hasn’t seen it but – each he and Hayman say they by no means get pleasure from watching their performances, all the time discovering fault with their work. Kier screws up his face as he imagines the ordeal of watching himself. “I always think I could have done it better. I say, ‘What did I do there? What is that hand movement?’”
The Zoom name wraps with Kier asking Hayman when he’s coming to go to. To which Hayman replies, “I’m coming when it is Udo Kier Day.” And he explains that in Palm Springs they’ve an annual day to have a good time the lifetime of Udo Kier, on January third. With that Kier lifts up his laptop computer to point out everybody a framed photograph of a star along with his identify on it – it’s a photograph of his star on Palm Spring’s reply to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, subsequent to Lauren Bacall, he says. Kier provides that, in addition to the plastic deer, he additionally owns a life-size plastic horse, named Max von Sydow, and that on Udo Kier Day he’ll arrive with the plastic horse. At which level, Hayman jumps in to say that he’s going to steer the plastic horse, with Kier on its again.
With fun, Mecklberg says: “You have to understand: Udo’s favorite topic is Udo. But David’s favorite topic is also Udo. So whenever I spend time with them we always talk about Udo.”