Actors are almost always identified by a handful of iconic roles they go on to make famous. But actor Dieter Laser probably has only one role that the world will most notably mention in honor of his memory, and it’s that of deranged surgeon Josef Heiter, the man who created The Human Centipede: First Sequence. Laser’s legacy is in particular focus today, as the actor has passed on at the age of 78.
Dieter Laser’s passing was only recently announced in trade publications like THR, but the actor had actually passed on February 29th, according to his wife, Inge. Raised in a strict Christian household, Laser became an actor at an early age, and was so devout in his upbringing that he’d felt as if he’d sold his soul to follow his dream.
Nowhere was that felt more than In his own words on the matter:
I will become an actor and I'll pay later on – in hell.
Perhaps the saddest reaction we’ve seen so far is that of The Human Centepede director Tom Six. As collaborators the two would make the first and third films in the trilogy. Laser sat out the second film, as he and Six were arguing at the time; but when all was said and done, the two men were friends.
Tom Six’s own personal memorial to Dieter Laser was posted through his Twitter feed, and contained the following:
Best known in the world of German entertainment, Laser built a reputation for playing those sorts of villains you wouldn’t even want to run into in the daylight. It didn’t take much for the world at large to latch onto his insane doctor character in The Human Centipede: First Sequence, as the insane scheme he hatched to connect three people in a rather unconventional manner was matched by Dieter Laser’s eccentric performance.
While he would return for 2015’s The Human Centipede: Third Sequence, Laser would not be playing Josef Heiter in that particular film. With the tone shifting to a straight up political satire, rather than a midnight horror film, Dieter Laser got to play a new part in the legacy of Tom Six’s trilogy of infamy: American prison warden Bill Boss.
Even with all of the horror cred that Laser possessed, it’s easy to see that he was actually as charming as he was intimidating. Take a look at the following interview footage captured during his promotion of the 2010 film, and see for yourself.
Dedicated to his craft, Dieter Laser was such a method actor, Tom Six claimed that he wore an actual lab coat from a Nazi doctor during the filming of The Human Centipede: First Sequence. Whether or not that claim is true, Laser’s legacy of fear and villainy will live on in his work. Most notably, it will be remembered in a film that had such a powerful pop culture imprint, it didn’t take long for the film to find itself referenced by everyone from Beavis and Butthead to South Park. Not to mention, the mere mention of the title itself still makes people cringe. If you can make it to that sort of profile, in only a decade of operation, you know you’ve made it. Dieter Laser helped make all of that possible, and for that, he will be missed.
Our most heartfelt condolences go out to Dieter Laser’s friends and family, as we wish them all the best in this moment of sorrow.