Possessing a pair of the most elegantly piercing steel blue eyes ever to be captured on celluloid, German cult actor Udo Kier has made a distinct mark for himself in the world of cinema with roles in everything from obscure European exploitation films to the most mainstream of Hollywood fare. Though as an actor Kier has made a name for himself by essaying frequently bizarre and sometimes sadistic film roles, the man himself is almost the complete opposite of the characters he portrays onscreen, exuding a flamboyant and personable earthy elegance that stands in stark contrast to his unforgettably cold, vampiric screen presence.
Born in October of 1944 in Cologne, Germany, it may come as no surprise that Kier's incredibly dramatic birth would easily rival the intensity of any of the future actor's film roles. As war raged outside the serene confines of the hospital, Kier's mother requested a few moments alone with her newborn son immediately following his birth. Moments later the hospital was bombed and Kier's mother began the grueling task of digging herself and her son from out of the rubble. His father absent for much of his youth, Kier had a chance encounter with an aspiring young filmmaker named Rainer Werner Fassbinder before moving to Britain at the age of 18 to study English and acting. Shortly after Kier's arrival, director Mike Sarne offered him the role of a gigolo in The Road to St. Tropez (1966), and with that film the young actor made his screen debut. Though Kier would appear in a few films rounding out the 1960s, it was his part in the controversial 1970 film The Mark of the Devil that would truly set his career path in motion. His role as a witch hunter apprentice who meets a gruesome demise horrified audiences, and the film was subsequently banned in many areas of the world.