In New York I was so fascinated by processes concerning character development and performing that I spent nine years intensively studying various acting techniques.
After returning to Berlin I employed this expertise for the purposes of coaching other actors - until Stephen Daldry rekindled my passion for acting during the casting of "The Reader".
Since then I've played a variety of roles with exceptional actors in German, and international, film and television productions.
Performing with excellent actors is exhilarating and to suddenly improvise with Tom Hanks and Liam Neeson - simply because we feel gripped by the urge to perform - even more so.
Here is my interview with Moviepilot about the shooting of Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel".
The most Andersonesque film that Wes Anderson has ever shot.
We talked to actress Heike Hanold-Lynch, a German actress who works in international film productions, among them The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson, where she plays one of the "black sisters".
When the casting call came, I was over the moon - I'm a big Wes Anderson fan, and I love the lyricism of his films, especially The Life Aquatic. Because his aesthetic is unique, I thought a great deal about what to wear to the casting. The information I had was that the character is a spinster and the story takes place in the 1930s. So, in every casting round, I wore a severe grey suit, but I added a black fabric rose in cowboy-necktie style to the collar. My appearance fitted the historic period but it was a little eccentric with a Texan touch - Wes comes from Texas. But in the end, of course, it was down to convincing them as an actress, and improvising in English with some fellow actresses.
In real life, Wes Anderson has an extremely pleasant personality. He's a brilliant perfectionist and yet laid-back at the same time; he's very stylish, and he's attentive, friendly and witty. Sabine Urig, Michaela Caspar and I had the pleasure of rehearsing with him alone in the Hotel de Rome an hour before shooting began. When I asked him why the sisters always stuck together and weren't married, he thought for a moment, and then answered: "They don't trust anybody". A brilliantly simple answer that explains everything. While shooting, Wes Anderson sets the rhythm and choreography, but I still felt spontaneous and free. My description of Wes' working method is that he creates a beautiful, inspiring relationship with his actors that is spectacular in its perfection, and almost childish in its purity. His team are like shadows. I didn't even notice the sound people until the fifth day on set, for example.
Wonderful. I enjoyed every second of my seven days of shooting. I had great respect but wasn't afraid of rubbing shoulders with them - even though the stars were kept apart. In the end, we're all professionals in our own right, meeting at our place of work, and there's no space for fawning - in any case, I'd already worked together with Tom Hanks and Liam Neeson. It doesn't matter what country and what acting tradition you come from, I always think it's a terrific experience to work with outstanding actors - people with a real "generosity of spirit" - because it opens up space for creativity and humanity. So there was Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton and Jeff Goldblum - fantastic! And each and every one of these highly successful and talented people achieved his or her top form in surprisingly different ways.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was brimming with the desire to act, and long before he became famous, film students were vying with each other to work with him. Phil was brilliant - such a virtuoso and so touchingly human in his portrayal of characters. We studied for many years at the same time with Tony whose 'hardcore method', as we jokingly referred to it, was extremely subtle, high quality work - although it is not particularly oriented on results. During my New York years, I also studied acting techniques that were more concrete, and I've long since cultivated my own style. I've just shot a film with Oskar Roehler, Punk. This feature film takes place in the old West Berlin of the 1980s… It was good that I left Berlin and it's good to come back ten years later, although it's tricky for me to get into the rhythm here. Back then, I blew a few opportunities, like a screen test for the lead in Dominik Graf's Der Felsen. I wouldn't make the same mistake today! I worked as an acting coach for twelve years behind the scenes and on set - but then my passion to act was fired up again, and this time round it's looking pretty good for me: in the meantime I've played a whole range of roles, with fabulous colleagues like Edgar Selge, Christoph Bach, Tom Schilling, and I'm happy to be able to use my versatility to the full. Right now, I'm looking forward to my role as the Schlecker drugstore employee Marina, together with Josefine Preuß and Florian Lukas for a two-part ZDF series called Die Abrechnung, directed by Dror Zahavi. We start shooting the day after tomorrow.
My sisters Laetizia, Marguerite and I own the Grand Budapest Hotel, together with our brother, played by Adrien Brody. My character had the wonderful name of Carolina Desgoffe-and-Taxis. Tilda Swinton is our mother, Willem Dafoe our bodyguard, Jeff Goldblum our lawyer, Mathieu Amalric our butler and Léa Seydoux our chambermaid. I shrieked aloud when I first heard that! Then we were fitted for costumes: Wes and the costume designer legend Milena Canonero (three Oscars for The Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Marie Antoinette) had thought up three different looks for the sisters (in one variation, the costumes were modelled on Adrien Brody's nose). The costume fittings - all original 1930s outfits - weren't done and dusted after a week: Milena tirelessly perfected our outfits until the last take of the last frame. She is brilliant and approaches her work like Wes. And the icing on the cake was that Sabine Urig, Michaela Caspar and I worked together like a dream, and we went through this unique experience together from the casting to the world premiere, bound together like loyal sisters.
Grand Budapest Hotel is terrific, a gem and an absolute cult film. Somehow, Wes Anderson has managed to multiply himself and coolly outstrip the high expectations people had of his next work. The film is exuberantly rich in ideas, very funny, elegant, droll, subtly political - the most Wes Andersonesque film he's ever made! Even though the story is not difficult to tell. It's a must-see!
And finally, a question that particularly interests the moviepiloten: What are your three favourite films? Three films that mean a lot to me: Firstly, Sophie's Choice because Meryl Streep is a sight to behold. Secondly, Somersault - Wie Parfum in der Luft by Cate Shortland because I love this film! And thirdly, Das weiße Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte by Michael Haneke, about burgeoning fascism, with wonderful acting. The most important director for me at the moment is Steve McQueen. And the next film I'm going to watch is Philomena by Stephen Frears. And don't miss out on Lauf Junge Lauf by Pepe Danquart. Thank you all!
The original interview in german is here on www.moviepilot.de...
The Anke Balzer Agency represents me regarding all acting-related matters.