This German-born leading man and character player has acted successfully in American and European productions, working with a number of important directors including his lifelong friend Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The blond, one-time boyishly handsome Kier made his US feature debut as a neo-Nazi spy in the forgettable "The Salzburg Connection" (1972) and then played title roles in "Andy Warhol's Frankenstein" (1973) and "Blood For Dracula" (1974) both directed by Paul Morrissey. He was cast as the sadistic lover Rene in "The Story of O" (1975) and had a cameo in horror master Dario Argento's "Suspiria" (1976).
Kier and German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder had previously been teenage lovers and street hustlers in the Frankfurt gay scene in the early 1960s. Beginning in the late 1970s, Kier was cast in a number of Fassbinder features. It was a period in which Kier was also living in Fassbinder's Munich household, running the kitchen. He played the hairdresser with whom the station master's wife had an ongoing affair in "Bolwieser/The Stationmasters' Wife" (1978) and was one of the terrorists in the black comedy "Die Dritte Generation/The Third Generation" (1979). Kier had small roles in the episodic masterpiece "Berlin Alexanderplatz" (1980) which was originally made for German television, as well as parts in "Lola," and "Lili Marlene" (both 1981), the latter being one of Fassbinder's takes on life in Nazi Germany.
Kier also appeared in Werner Schroeter's "Flocons d'Or" (1978) and had the title role in Walerian Borowczyk's "The Blood of Doctor Jekyll" (1981), both made in France. He starred in a number of German-produced films in the mid-1980s including the Monika Treut/Elfi Mikesch directed "Seduction: The Cruel Woman" (1985). Danish director Lars von Trier, for whom Kier has become something of a regular player, gave him leads in the experimental horror feature "Epidemic" (1987) and the stunning political thriller "Zentropa/Europa" (1991). Von Trier also gave Kier one of the most memorable entrances in the history of cinema in the bizarre comedy-thriller "The Kingdom" (1994), a film in four parts originally made for Dutch TV. (Kier reprised the role in the 1997 sequel "The Kingdom II.") Returning to the USA, Gus Van Sant cast him as a john who goes after River Phoenix in "My Own Private Idaho" (1991; hilarious with his deadpan rendition of the line "I'm so excited") and as a commercial director in "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" (1993). Mainstream audiences may remember Kier from the blockbuster "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" (1994), wherein he played a shady entrepreneur or from "Barb Wire," as Pamela Anderson Lee's sidekick, and Steve Barron's "The Adventures of Pinocchio" (both 1996), as the villainous puppetmaster Lorenzini. He reprised the latter three years later in "The New Adventures of Pinocchio."
From the late 90s on, Kier seemingly found a niche in horror films, many with vampires at their core. In "Blade" (1998), he was deliciously monstrous as the venal bloodsucker Dragonetti and acted in such other genre outings as "Modern Vampires/Revenant" (also 1998) and "Besat/Possessed" (1999). In a similar vein, Kier offered a fine turn as art director and producer Albin Grau in "Shadow of the Vampire" (2000), a fictionalized musing about the behind the scenes making of the 1922 F W Murnau classic "Nosferatu."
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Moved to Great Britain at age 18 (date approximate)
Made screen debut in small role in "The Road to St. Tropez"
Acted in the controversial "Mark of the Devil"
U.S. feature acting debut, "The Salzburg Connection"
Landed title roles Morrissey-directed "Flesh for Frankenstein" and "Blood for Dracula," ostensibly produced under the aegis of Andy Warhol
Performed in the controversial "The Story of O"
Cast by Dario Argento in supporting role, "Suspira"; because of technical difficulties voice was dubbed
First of five appearances in a Rainer Werner Fassbinder film, "Bolwieser/The Stationmaster's Wife"; originally made for television
Portrayed Jack the Ripper in Walerian Borowczyk's "Lulu"
Had role in Fassbinder's epic TV drama "Berlin Alexanderplatz"
Acted in Fassbinder's "Lola"
Offered interpretation of the title role of Dr. Jekyll in "Dr. Jekyll and His Women"; dubbed into English for U.S. release
First collaboration with Lars von Trier, the TV-movie "Medea"; played Jason
Co-starred in von Trier's "Zentropa/Europa"
Settled in the U.S.
Acted in "My Own Private Idaho," directed by Gus Van Sant; first film with Keanu Reeves
Was featured in photographs published in Madonna's book "Sex"
US TV debut, "Jack Reed: Badge of Honor"
Had featured role in von Trier's TV drama "The Kingdom"
Cast as a sadistic sailor in von Trier's breakthrough drama "Breaking the Waves"
Reprised role in von Trier's sequel "The Kingdom II"
Co-starred as producer and art director Albin Grau in "Shadow of the Vampire"
Made cameo appearance as a doctor in Lars von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark"
Had a small role in Lars von Trier's "Dogville"
Cast in "Modigliani," starring Andy Garcia as Amedeo Modigliani, who had a bitter rivalry with Pablo Picasso
Cast in "Manderlay," the second film in Trier's U.S.A. trilogy, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Danny Glover, and Willem Dafoe
Cast in the big-screen version of the popular video game "BloodRayne"
Appeared in the drama "Holly," about child trafficking in Cambodia
Appeared in Rob Zombie's remake of horror classic "Halloween"
Landed a featured role in "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done" opposite Michael Shannon
Reteamed with Von Trier in the apocalyptic drama "Melancholia"
Co-starred in the action sci-fi film "Iron Sky"
Voiced the role of Mr. Toad on the animated series "Beware the Batman"
Co-starred in "The Forbidden Room"
Played Rauchensteiner on the TV mini-series "Altes Geld"