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Heiner Lauterbach: "My best film? Rossini!”


Heiner Lauterbach is one of the busiest, most successful and popular actors in Germany. In April he will be 70. In a big interview with our newspaper, he reveals how he, who has been an honorary professor of acting at the Macromedia University in Munich since 2019, looks at his career.

Heiner Lauterbach is one of the busiest, most successful and popular actors in Germany.

In April he will be 70. In a big interview with our newspaper, he reveals how he, who has been an honorary professor of acting at the Macromedia University in Munich since 2019, looks at his career.

Most of them want to be on the big stage or in front of the camera at some point - and yet shyness sets in first.

No wonder, after all, there is a real star in front of the around 20 film students (first semester!) at Munich's Macromedia University on this day: Heiner Lauterbach.

He has been an honorary professor of acting, film and television at the private university since 2019.

"With his diverse activities as a theatre, film and television actor, as a voice actor and advertising medium, as a director, author, producer and festival founder, Heiner Lauterbach embodies exactly the profile of the autonomous, polyvalent artist that is the model of the Macromedia acting course," it said at the time of appointment.

What's more, the 69-year-old obviously enjoys being a teacher and fills this role very well.

The best proof: the lecture, which is actually over after a good two hours, never ends – the students ask and ask and ask their professor holes in their stomachs.

The initial reluctance - as if blown away.

Much to the delight of Florian Haumer, Dean of the Faculty of Culture, Media, Psychology ("Heiner Lauterbach is of course a huge asset to the university"), as well as actress Lea Marlen Woitack, who normally teaches the class.

Afterwards, Heiner Lauterbach takes time for our newspaper.

In the interview, he talks about his passion for teaching, the young actors in Germany and, a few weeks before his 70th birthday on April 10, looks back on his own career.

Mr. Lauterbach, can actually anyone learn – acting?

Heiner Lauterbach:

I can easily answer that: no.

There are just people who are absolutely untalented for acting.

However, that doesn't mean they can't be successful.


How quickly do you notice if someone has talent?


That, in turn, is difficult to say.

Because there are big differences when it comes to the learning processes.

When I see young actors today who are maybe 18 or 19 years old, I often think to myself: At that age I wasn't that far along.

There are also little kids who blow your mind but lose their talent over the years.

Then all of a sudden it's gone.

In this respect, one should beware of hasty judgments.

What separates the wheat from the chaff?


Ultimately, it is the ability for someone to speak a role as if they were thinking like the character at the moment.

It's all about this.

That you believe what he's playing, that he's credible.

This is a craft and can be learned to a certain extent.

And then it is also a question of charisma, whether someone has that special something or not.

Like Christoph Waltz, for example.

Who is now making a career in Hollywood.


Yes, but long before he got the Oscar, I always used him as an example of that certain something.

I'm sure the way he is, he would have failed many acting schools when he was young.

Because he speaks differently.

So idiosyncratically accentuated.

But that is ultimately what is special, what is unique.

I always thought he was great.

And I actually give that to the students: If you have something of your own - don't let it be taken from you!

This is your pound.

You enjoy passing on your knowledge.

When did that start?


It started with the fact that I have been answering a large number of questions from a large number of young colleagues for a number of years.

It was often about my biography, how you coped with certain phases of life and so on, well.

But there were also very specific questions.

Soap: yes or no?

Do I need an agency?

What is the best way to learn text?

Such things.

My wife then said: Why don't you make a video with all the answers, which you can then send out.

(Laughs.) That's how the idea for "Meet your Master" came about, our platform on which luminaries explain their respective subject.

Would you have liked to have had yourself as a teacher earlier?


If I had had someone like me when I was young, I would have had a completely different career.

In what way?


What mistakes I made in my career planning!

You can fill books there!

Alone, in what state I sometimes came to the set!

I've also accepted films for which I hadn't even read the script.

I had only seen: Thailand.

I'll play along.

I've always wanted to go there.

There were some terrible things there.

Bernd Eichinger once said to me: Heiner, you treat your career as if you hated it.

I needed someone to hold my hand.

Today's young actors, on the other hand, want to plan everything meticulously and find the best agency.

I wasn't in any agency for a long time because I didn't want to give up the ten percent commission.


What did you miss out on by doing this?


Probably no one believes me, but Steven Spielberg once did a casting for "Schindler's List" - the leading role, which then played Liam Neeson.

The casting was in Berlin.

My agent called and said: “Go there.” But I said: “I've just come from Berlin, so I won't be going there again.

He can also come here.” No joke.

That's how I used to be.

The Missed Hollywood Chance.


Spielberg would probably never have cast me, he would have always taken an English-speaking one.

But still – one of those, sorry, shit I used to do.

But you still don't look dissatisfied with your career?


No, no, not at all.

From all your films, can you pick one as the most important?


Looking back, I would say that the best film was “Rossini”.

It really is a little masterpiece.

And timeless.

You can tell by the fact that you can still see it very well today.

This screenplay by Helmut Dietl is simply a treasure, every word fits.

A gift.

But there are also films that are already outdated two years after their release.

Men, for example, is a film that was great then, but is a bit difficult to watch now - because it's very much rooted in its time.

As heavenly as the book by Doris (Dörrie, editor's note) was in its time, it seems to me to be dusty today.

And what about the acting guild in Germany?


Really good.

Germany has always had great actors.

And right now there are a lot of great young people.

David Schütter, for example - a grenade.

But there has never been a lack of actors in Germany.

That was never our problem.

Sounds like we have another?


Yes, the screenplays.

Why is it?



Screenplays are always a question of money.

It starts with you having to educate people well.

Then you take ten and lock them in a room for two years.

Then series like “Breaking Bad” come out.

You don't get the preparatory work for a series like this financed in Germany.

That's why there are so few good templates for movies - with a few exceptions.

What was the last thing you liked?


"Yesterday we were still children" on ZDF.

This is really great.

You have to get through a series like that first.

I wanted to write to the author - it's good that we're talking about it, then I'll think about it.

What are you shooting next?


I'm shooting another film with Daniel Harrich.

Among other things, we've done "Masters of Death" together about dirty gun deals.

Now it's going to be something investigative again - and I think it'll be fine again.

The interview was conducted by Stefanie Thyssen.


Legendary: Heiner Lauterbach, Gudrun Landgrebe and Jan Josef Liefers in Helmut Dietl's "Rossini"

© picture alliance

Source: merkur

All life articles on 2023-02-05

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