He has worked with everyone from Andy Warhol to Lars von Trier – as well as gone underage drinking with Rainer Fassbinder and chatted up hustlers with River Phoenix

Kier moved to London to study English in 1965, hoping to find clerical work. Despite no acting aspirations, he was spotted and cast in a comedy short, 1966’s Road To Saint Tropez, then was discovered time and time again: Andy Warhol’s director Paul Morrissey met him on a plane and cast him as Frankenstein, and then Dracula; Van Sant, who had loved Kier in those roles, met him at the Berlin film festival in 1986 and offered him his first American role, in the street hustler drama My Own Private Idaho. Shooting it in Portland, Oregon, Kier immediately bonded with River Phoenix who, as the narcoleptic gigolo Mike, was method acting, referring to Kier as his character Hans, demanding he pay for everything.

One night, Phoenix asked Kier to come out with him and find some genuine gigolos on the streets, for research. Phoenix wore sunglasses, hanging back while Kier made contact; they had arranged that Phoenix would kick him when one piqued his interest. “We went to a group on a corner, where the real hustlers were. I talked to a few boys and River kicked me. So I said to the boy: ‘Look, I don’t want anything from you, but I’ll pay you some money, let’s just have a drink.’ And we went to a bar and River sat in the corner and I interviewed the boy: ‘What was the worst thing you had to do for money,’ etc. River wanted to know what was going on.”

Read the full interview here

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