News broke today of new cast additions to the upcoming second season of Amazon Prime and Monkeypaw Productions’ Hunters. Joining the ranks are Emily Rudd (Fear Street Part Two: 1978), Tommy Martinez (Good Trouble), and none other than the great German character actor Udo Kier.
What roles they’ll play in the world of our Nazi hunters is as yet unknown, but to say I’m excited to find out is an understatement.
Deadline has news on the new cast members, who will join returning regulars Logan Lerman, Jerrika Hinton, Lena Olin, Carol Kane, Josh Radnor, Greg Austin, Tiffany Boone, Louis Ozawa, Kate Mulvany, and Dylan Baker. Martinez is a relative newcomer, known for his work in the series Good Trouble and a small role on Riverdale. Rudd is also new on the scene (no relation to Paul, we checked), but she just made her mark as Cindy Berman in Netflix’s Fear Street Part Two: 1978. And Kier? Well, he’s an actor worthy of his own section entirely.
Rooted in History, Told Through Exploitation Cinema
The series, set in 1970s New York City, follows a group of Nazi hunters (the titular Hunters) who set out to hunt and kill Nazis that were safely brought over after World War II before they can start a Fourth Reich. Perhaps the scariest part of the show is it’s inspired by a real event: Operation Paperclip. From 1945 to 1959, the United States government brought over roughly 1,600 scientists from various disciplines who had worked for the Third Reich.
Hunters’ tone is deeply rooted in ’70s exploitation films and, as the first season progressed, it gradually shed its Jewsploitation front in favor of a profound and moving (albeit controversial for some) analysis of Jewish life and existence.
What’s more, is that Nazi hunters really did exist. Only, instead of exacting violent vengeance for their crimes, the Hunters would bring them to stand trial instead. One of the most famous Nazi hunters was Simon Wiesenthal (1908–2005), an Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivor who was portrayed by Judd Hirsch in season 1.
Also joining the cast this season is Jennifer Jason Leigh as Chava Apfelbaum who we saw briefly in a flashback in the very first episode of the series, “In the Belly of the Whale.” The character was originally played by Cassidy Layton as a young woman in Auschwitz.
To Kier or Not To Kier
If you’re making anything with Nazis as prominent characters, I’m pretty sure a bell goes off in Udo Kier’s agent’s head like a little alarm notifying him of the actor’s next perfect opportunity. The same is true of me and anything to do with Amazon Prime and Monkeypaw Production’s Jewish exploitation series Hunters. As soon as that little bell went off in my head (Incoming! Hunters news!) and I saw Kier’s name, all I could muster was a delighted and fitting “of course.” And while the legendary German actor has made a mere fraction of his career playing Nazis, he’s never portrayed one seriously before, presumably on principle and due to the toll it would take to try and empathize with one.
The Lars Von Trier mainstay has 270 credits to his name and has appeared in everything from the cerebral Melancholia (2011) to emotionally anguished films like Breaking the Waves (1996) and schlocky gold with Iron Sky (2012). He’s been a horror icon since the 1970s with films like Mark of the Devil, Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, Blood for Dracula, the original Suspiria, Blade, and Shadow of the Vampire just to name a few.
This leads me to wonder what his role will be in the second season of Hunters. Will he finally break his own rule and play a serious Nazi? Will they flip the books and have him play a Jewish German? Or does Hunters’ exploitation bent provide enough distance from the human monsters for Kier to even consider the role? We’ll have to wait and see.
Regardless of what he does in the season, his presence alone is promising and sets an incredibly high standard for the show moving forward.
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