The Agony and Ecstasy of Playing Ear Man in Crimes of the Future

Talking to the guy behind the freakiest part of the freakiest film of the year.

Ear Man from Crimes of the Future.

Ear Man! Photo Credit: Nikos Nikolopoulos

It’s hard to be considered the freakiest part of a movie where we see multiple detailed organ removals, where Kristen Stewart declares surgery “the new sex,” and where Léa Seydoux sticks her tongue into Viggo Mortensen’s open abdominal cavity. But the Ear Man in Crimes of the Future might just be it.

Crimes of the Future is director David Cronenberg’s first foray back into body horror, the genre he all but invented, since 1999. It’s set in a time when human beings have evolved to spontaneously grow new organs and pain has been eradicated. All sorts of mystifying, semi-erotic, underground performance art has sprung up as a result. Take Ear Man, or Klinek, a sinewy man covered in spare ears from head to toe. His schtick involves a fluid modern dance performance in an industrial club, during which his mouth and eyes are completely sewn shut. (Apparently he can’t even hear from the extra ears.)

Having several questions about Ear Man (primarily: what???), I got in touch with Tassos Karahalios, the actor who portrays him. Our video call flickered on to reveal an exuberant 43-year-old contemporary dancer in Athens, Greece with a full beard, wearing a teal tank top.

Tassos Karahalios, with a regular amount of ears.

Apostolis Koukousas

Karahalios had branched out into some acting and film choreography when he got the call about appearing in Crimes of the Future. Thing is, he originally thought it was a prank. “Somebody called me and they told me, ‘David Cronenberg is coming to Greece to shoot a movie. And he chose you for a role,’” he recalls. “So I said, ‘Okay, who is making fun of me? Tell me who it is.’ And then I hung up. And then they called me back and they said to me, ‘Don’t hang up, please. We are not lying. It’s true. David Cronenberg saw some videos of yours and he chose you for this role.’”

A longtime fan of Cronenberg’s who has seen almost all of the director’s films, Karahalios was thrilled at the chance to get to work with him. “I follow him as an artist,” he says. “He’s one of a kind. He does something deeply personal and deeply unique. I mean, in Greece, he’s a myth.” After Cronenberg asked him if he would be willing to shave his head for the part, they exchanged emails back and forth. The director had an initial idea of how the choreography would work, with Karahalios adding some input as well. “It was very hard to conceive how this creature is moving,” he says. “This was really a deep and very essential body transformation.”

Conceptually conceiving of the role is one thing. Being covered entirely in ears is another. First, designers Alexandra Anger and Monica Pavez took a mold of Karahalios’s actual ear and created around 40 replicas. “The feeling is exactly the same as when you touch your ear, the same hardness, the same softness, the shape,” he says. “It was very weird.”

It took around four hours total for the application process, during which he could not move. Sealing his eyes and mouth shut meant that he could neither see nor eat during the day of filming. “I was really suffering,” Karahalios says. “But I was also feeling very happy because David Cronenberg was coming every five minutes and telling me, ‘I’m so happy. You are doing it very good.’”

Karahalios also meditated to get through some of the more unpleasant parts of the preparation. “And something happened and I didn’t care,” he says. “I forgot I have needs. I didn’t want to see anything. I was not hungry. I was a bit thirsty after a while, but I said, ‘Okay, it doesn’t matter.’”

As for where the ears went after filming, Cronenberg and the makeup artists took a handful. Karahalios has the rest. “I kept the original one, plus almost 30 ears in a box of pizza,” he says. “Whoever sees it, they’re like, ‘Oh my God.’”

Pop Culture

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Sammy Hagar Says He Makes Money Off Booze and Bars, Music’s Just for Fun
Taron Egerton Is in Talks to Take Over Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Role
Katy Perry Dragged for 4th of July Abortion Tweet Due to Caruso Support
Book Riot’s Deals of the Day for July 4, 2022
(Photos) Congrats! Jhené Aiko And Big Sean Are Expecting Their First Child Together

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.