German actor Dieter Laser, who played evil scientist Dr. Josef Heiter in “The Human Centipede,” died on Feb. 29 in Germany. He was 78.
Laser’s death has only now come to light via an announcement posted to his Facebook page on Thursday. “We are very sorry to have to inform you that Dieter Laser passed away on February 29, 2020,” the post said. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Laser was born on Feb. 17, 1942, in Kiel, Germany, according to his IMDb page. He is best known for his bone-chilling portrayal of Heiter in “The Human Centipede,” as well as Mantrid in science-fiction TV series “Lexx” and Professor Otto Blaettchen in the 1996 WWII drama “The Ogre.” In 1975, Laser was awarded best actor at the German Film Awards for his first feature film, “John Glückstadt,” in which he played the titular role.
According to IMDb, Laser began his career at 16 by showing up to the stage door of Deutsches Schauspielhaus, one of the most famous theaters in Germany, and landing a last-minute role as an extra in their Christmas play. This was risky for Laser, whose family did not approve of his chosen career.
“He had grown up in a fundamentalist Christian sect where the Theatre was regarded as devil’s work,” Laser’s IMDb bio says. “As a brainwashed believer he had to hazard the consequences.”
After building up his career in theater, Laser moved to cinema and went on to appear in 65 films, including “The Human Centipede” in 2009 and its last installment, 2015’s “The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence).” His most recent role was in 2017 in Estonian drama “November,” in which he played the role of Baron.