Nina Hoss • Actress
A passion for acting
by Martin Blaney - German Films Quarterly
It was as if German actress Nina Hoss had been struck by lightning – for a few seconds she couldn't believe that her name had been called out at this year's Berlinale awards ceremony to receive the Silver Bear for Best Actress for her performance in Christian Petzold's Yella [+see also:
film profile]. But anyone familiar with the 31-year-old's resume would know that the award was totally justified and recognition for a talent with much more to show in the future.
The first brush with cinema came before Nina had even made the move from her home town of Stuttgart to Berlin to start her studies at "Ernst Busch": Joseph Vilsmaier was looking for a lead actress for his next feature And Nobody Weeps For Me and was given her name by an acting friend. Nina was in her final year at school, but Vilsmaier liked what he saw and cast her shortly before the film went before the camera. That performance was subsequently seen by producer Bernd Eichinger who was preparing his directorial debut with a remake of A Girl Called Rosemarie as part of SAT.1's "German Classics". Screen tests were made and the rest is, as they say, history.
Her regular collaborations with certain theater directors is reflected in her work for the cinema with the now long-standing working partnership with Christian Petzold: she first worked with him on Something to Remind Me in 2001 and followed this a year later with Wolfsburg, both performances winning her one of the coveted Adolf Grimme Awards, and was then cast in the title role of Petzold's 2007 Berlinale competition film Yella. "Christian has a similar approach to me: he revolves the story and the figure and gives me such a freedom. I like the way that he talks about the plot and the characters – he never becomes concrete. I don't like it when a director tells you in detail how you should play a scene. A good director should give you space and their confidence in your ability. The work with Christian is all about give and take."
Winning the Silver Bear is sure to have put Nina's name on to the radar of many international producers who were perhaps not so aware of her work. With genuine modesty, the young actress says that she doesn't want to get too caught up in the excitement generated at the Berlinale and prefers to let things take their course. While she is "very satisfied" with what is now possible in German cinema and the success of the films on an international level, Nina wouldn't be averse at taking on roles in international productions.
A start was made last month with Marie Noelle and Peter Sehr's German-French-Spanish co-production Die Frau des Anarchisten where she will be required to speak her lines in French, playing opposite such internationally respected colleagues as Laura Morante and Jean-Marc Barr. Then, this month, she will follow this with the lead role in Max Faerberboeck's Anonyma, to be shot in Berlin and in St. Petersburg, with Russian actors. "I think it is enriching for me to act in another language because you get to become acquainted with other cultures, languages and people," Nina suggests. "One gets to see different ways of acting and other approaches to the characters, and that's what I like about this greater openness in European cinema!"
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