For his latest, Zack Snyder has assembled a killer ensemble to bring his zombified heist movie to life in Army of the Dead, including Dave Bautista, Hiroyuki Sanada, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Garret Dillahunt, Theo Rossi, Samantha Win, Tig Notaro, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ella Purnell, Raúl Castillo, and Nora Arnezeder. During the recent press day for Army of the Dead, Daily Dead had the opportunity to briefly speak with Matthias Schweighöfer about his character in the film—an enthusiastic German safe cracker by the name of Ludwig Dieter. During the interview, Schweighöfer discussed his excitement over getting to collaborate with Snyder on the film, working with his fellow cast members, and gave us some hints on Dieter’s backstory as well.

Army of the Dead arrives in select theaters on May 14th and then heads exclusively to Netflix on May 21st.

Great to speak with you today, Matthias, and congratulations on the film. What was it about this character, Dieter, in particular that caught your eye and you realized, "Oh yeah, I really want to take this guy on for Army of the Dead?"

Matthias Schweighöfer: First of all, when my agent sent me the script and on page number zero, in front, it was written Army of the Dead by director Zack Snyder, I thought, "Oh my God, this is like a dream coming true." Because Zack was always one of my most favorite directors in the world. So I was pretty nervous when I did my audition tape. And then when I received a call from my agent and from Zack and they told me, "You're in," I was like, "Oh my God. Yeah, that's amazing. Oh my God." I called everyone and said, "Do you know that I'm in a Zack Snyder film?" And that was pretty awesome. When I read the script for the first time, my character, who is German in the film, it wasn't about playing a historical guy for the past, which happens often. It was a safe cracker, and it was a nerdy, funny dude. I realized that he's the comic relief in this big, huge film. I always loved being funny, but also, I am still a character in a movie that is, at the same time, tragic, so that was great. I was so happy.

We get to know Dieter a little bit in your introduction scene and we get a sense that he's quirky and he's passionate about this world of safe cracking. Did you and Zack talk a little bit about who Dieter was when we weren't seeing him on screen and filling in those blanks, and did that help enhance your performance? I'm just curious what the collaborative process was like on this.

Matthias Schweighöfer: Yeah. I think we talked a bit about why he is the safe cracker and what his journey was prior to this film. And especially Zack, who created a fantastic backstory in the prequel that we shot. But for Army of the Dead, we mostly focused on the safe cracking and the safe cracking world and why he's doing this. So that whole mythology about that safe was part of the biography for Dieter. And that is what Zack and I talked about most of the time.

This is a movie that really pays attention to all the characters, and I love the little breakout moments you had in this, where basically you're teaming up with Omari and it's you two against the world at certain points in the story. Was it fun to work on that dynamic with him, and collaborate with the rest of the cast as well? 

Matthias Schweighöfer: It was really a great experience, especially when we started prepping the film with Dave and with Omari, too. I love these guys, by the way. It was so funny to see that when they trained for infiltrating a room as a team, and especially me as a character, my only work was to destroy their team with stuff like a little child would do; like being loud at the wrong moment, or having a watch that is very, very noisy. And Omari was so welcoming for all of these little bits and pieces and he used them for his character. There was one point where we thought, "Hey, Omari, you and me, this is like our own Lethal Weapon. I'm Mel Gibson and you are like Danny Glover. That's fantastic, so let's work on that." So yeah, there was nothing to act, because it was just real between us the whole time.

When we were shooting this, we were all in Albuquerque in this hot environment together and it was a very, very special team because the team is international, so we got to represent a lot of great people here. We have Nora, and she's from France. Ella’s from the U.K., and there were all these people from New York or Tampa or L.A. too, and we were all brought together in Albuquerque to shoot this film. So we spent a lot of time together, and we spent days and days together becoming friends, and that was all because of Zack. He made sure that we spent time together the whole time and I think you can see that in the film.

In terms of the physicality of Army of the Dead, Dieter's a little bit different than the rest of the team in terms of how he approaches being thrown into this scenario. There are a lot of guns blazing with Dave and the other folks, but Dieter is just trying to make the best of it, being a fish out of water in all of this, and all he wants to do is get to that safe. That being said, did you have to do any sort of physical preparation to get ready for production then? 

Matthias Schweighöfer: Oh yeah, I still prepped like all the others. I wasn't allowed to gain a lot of weight, but when Omari did his workout or Dave was doing his workouts, I always wanted to do my workout with them, but I wasn't allowed to. But when we prepped for shooting scenes, I was right there along with everyone else and I felt like I really was a member of this team. I always had to search for my part in that team, though, but the time we had really helped me to prep. Also, I prepped my voice to do this loud screaming and so I could scream like a woman in the film, because that's my weapon. I really did work hard on that [laughs].

[Photo Credit: Above photo courtesy of Clay Enos/NETFLIX © 2021.]


Go HERE to catch up on our previous Army of the Dead coverage!

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.