Ulli Lommel (born 21 December, 1944 and also known as Dataa Shigan – Apache name for “First Hand”) is a German born actor and film maker noted for his extensive career in both Europe and the U.S. and his collaboration with Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1968-1977) and Andy Warhol (1978-1984).
Ulli Lommel was born in 1944 in Berlin, Germany. He began his performing career when he was put on stage in 1948 at the age of four by his father, Ludwig Manfred Lommel, a popular comedian and radio personality often referred to as the Charlie Chaplin of Germany. The younger Lommel decided as a teenager that he wanted to pursue acting, but his father did not approve, so he ran away from home at age 16 after meeting Elvis Presley in Bad Nauheim, Germany.
He acted in over 28 plays, among them Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which he played the lead, 22 TV movies and 18 motion pictures before joining Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the Anti-Theater, an inspired political collective that launched the careers of several prominent German actors including Lommel, Kurt Raab, Hanna Schygulla and Margit Carstensen. As Fassbinder moved from theater to films in the late 60s, rapidly becoming one of the leading voices of the German New Wave, Lommel became one of his closest collaborators.
He spent 10 years working with Fassbinder, who was legendary for his prodigious output, directing 41 films in 13 years. Lommel not only acted in 16 Fassbinder productions, he also served as producer, assistant director and production designer, including Satan’s Brew, Love Is Colder Than Death, Effi Briest and Chinese Roulette. Fassbinder produced the cult films Tenderness of the Wolves and Adolf and Marlene, both directed by Lommel.
Since the death of Fassbinder in 1982, Lommel has been traveling the world and participating in numerous retrospectives dedicated to his Fassbinder years, among them the Museum of Modern Art in N.Y., Harvard, Centre Pompidou in Paris, London, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Beijing. In 1989 he became a writer for the Apache Nation in New Mexico and has been sending them yearly reports on the state of the White Man and his destruction of planet earth, as originally envisioned by the Native Americans several hundred years ago, who consider the slaughter of almost 50 million Indians the real first World War. However, Ulli Lommel (or as he is being called by the Apaches: Dataa Shigan) does not believe in revenge or negativity, but solely in solutions, and so he has become one of the creators of the Hollywood Action House, promoting peaceful change to benefit humanity and the plant- and animal kingdoms around the globe.
Lommel directed his first movie, Haytabo, starring Eddie Constantine. In 1973 Fassbinder produced Tenderness of the Wolves, Lommel’s cult classic, a film that was voted “One of the 1,000 movies to change your life” by Time Out. The film opened the Berlin International Film Festival and played for several years in art houses around the world. In 1978 Lommel moved to New York City, where he began working with Andy Warhol and made two films with Warhol, Blank Generation and Cocaine Cowboys. Warhol introduced Lommel during the years at the Silver Factory in Manhattan to the factory style of multi-media creativity, and Lommel not seldom found himself in the middle of music, polaroid and Pop-Art productions, all taking place at the same time in the same place. In 1980 Lommel moved to Hollywood and made The Boogeyman, starring John Carradine, which became an over night sensation and box office hit, grossing over $25 million worldwide. Many of Lommel’s post-Boogeyman films such Olivia (1981), BrainWaves starring Tony Curtis (1982), The Devonsville Terror starring Donald Pleasence (1983) also starred his ex-wife, actress Suzanna Love.
In 2004 Lommel started his own repertory group in Venice, California, where he and his collaborators have made 16 genre films released by Lions Gate Films, most of them highly commercial U.S. Home Theatre Premieres.
During his career, Ulli Lommel has worked with many popular stars including Tony Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Keir Dullea, John Carradine, David Carradine, Klaus Kinski, Vera Miles and Jack Palance, and Oscar winner Elliot Goldenthal worked as composer for Lommel’s Blank Generation and Cocaine Cowboys. Lommel also introduced Michael Ballhaus to Fassbinder and brought Ballhaus to Hollywood. Ballhaus started working for Lommel in 1976 as DP for Adolf and Marlene, which was screened in 2010 at the Cinemateque Francaise.
In May of 2011 Lommel latest work, a Live-Musical-Show entitled Dream Factory, about his life and times with Andy Warhol, will have its world-premiere in Bremen, Germany, a theatre town, where Lommel used to work with Fassbinder and Peter Zadek back in the 70s. Dream Factory is also Lommel’s next film project, which will be shot in 3D in October of 2011.