Werner Herzog Only Dreams Once Or Twice A Year: ‘I Feel The Absence Of Dreams Like A Void In The Morning’

Werner Herzog

by Jordan King |
Published on

At 81 years of age, over 60 films and as many years into his career, Werner Herzog is a man who has seen some stuff. Here is a man who has dragged a ship over a mountain for Fitzcarraldo, climbed a volcano set to erupt, had an entire cast hypnotised on Heart Of Glass, eaten his own shoe after losing a bet, and been shot at by an air-rifle wielding sniper mid-interview – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Speaking of which, he’s also made a movie in actual Antarctica, where the sun rises and sets only once a year. But if, like us, you’d imagine all these incredible experiences must make for some even wilder dreams, then you’d be very wrong. Werner Herzog hardly even dreams at all.

Yes, despite dreams being a major part of Herzog’s oeuvre – in 2016 documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, the filmmaker questions whether the Internet may dream of itself even –  when Werner hits the hay, he simply sleeps. “The strange thing is that I do not dream,” Herzog explains, speaking exclusively with Empire for our new December 2023 issue ahead of the release of his memoirs, Every Man For Himself And God Against All. “I feel the absence of dreams like a void in the morning. Maybe this void is something I’m filling with poetry, or films, or images, or dialogue, or sometimes maybe some wild things that I’m acting.”

In fairness, we can imagine when you’re busy gadding about the galaxy with Grogu and co in Star Wars, maybe your imagination needs the break of some solid, uninterrupted shut-eye. But no dreams? Ever? Well, not quite. Herzog concedes that he does dream “once a year, twice a year if it’s a very, very good year” – but even those, by his own admission, are just “banalities”. “The last,” he says, “which was more than a year ago, I dreamt I had a sandwich for lunch”. Not exactly exploring the Amazon or tangling with Nosferatu is it? But maybe it was at least a nice sandwich – a meatball marinara, perhaps? A Reuben? Or a good old-fashioned BLT? Ehh, not so much. “It was a boring one,” he recalls. “It was one of these pale Styrofoam-looking, bread triangularly shaped, like you get at fast-food delis.” Well, that’s disappointing.

Empire's Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom Covers

For more wild stories and musings, read Empire’s exclusive major new interview with Werner Herzog in the new Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom issue, on sale Thursday 26 October – pre-order a copy here. Every Man For Himself And God Against All is out now.

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