Jerichow: Interview with Actress Nina Hoss

Nina Hoss is the star of “Jerichow,” which will be released on May 1, 2009 by The Cinema Guild.

Interview with Nina Hoss

Your character, Laura, lurks on the fringes of the story. Is it hard to play such a character?

Actually I rather enjoy it, if you get this chance, not having to reveal too much about the character. She simply shows up, seems a bit blunt and uninterested, and yet suddenly something intense happens to her. I found this was really logical, with Laura… she can’t ponder over things too long, otherwise she’d be miserable most of the time. She has made the decision for a certain type of life, and she intends to stick to that path no matter what: there’s no time for complaints. That‘s how I imagined her.

The film does not deal with much of the story from her viewpoint. How free is she? Is she forced into her situation?

Yes, the subjective view of the drama is seen mostly through the eyes of Thomas. But from the moment she comes home in tears, you’re very close to her, and the perspective changes.

Suddenly you view things from her standpoint, which I think is a very clever dramatic shift. For me, her main theme was the desire for freedom. That’s why she devises her plan, without really considering the consequences. It’s a search for freedom, for a little niche and a plan for betrayal… It gives you a feeling of pleasure to know that the person who thinks he has you under his thumb really doesn’t know everything. So I do feel she is an obsessive rather than a reflective character who forges precise plans. What makes things awkward is that she equates freedom with having lots of money. That’s how she would define freedom. Like how she says: you can’t love if you don’t have money. That’s the bottom line, that’s how she experiences it.

There’s a picnic scene on the beach, where the constellation of the films shifts. How precise are the nuances of the scene described in the screenplay, and how much of the performance is developed in rehearsal and on location?

This scene was described rather precisely in the screenplay: the dance, the kiss, how it all builds up to this moment. Of course we rehearsed the scene many times. How the scene feels, whether the rhythm is right. How do you react in such a situation? Do you really dance, or are you quite stiff? I didn’t know in advance, how degraded the character Laura would end up feeling at this moment. But that is what the character felt. That’s why for me it felt a bit like… okay, it was Ali who positions me there, and for the first time I sense who this guy Thomas really is. Suddenly it is all out in the open. So you think, it isn’t my fault that this is happening, I can continue pursuing this later. Then she comes to her senses again, but she experienced the moment, a chink in her armor.

Does the manner in which Christian Petzold constructs the characters in his films have a special appeal to you? That he does not emphasize psychological components of acting and searches for a different form for asserting a character’s presence?

Yes, I think you have a point. But strangely enough, I feel we do work in a psychological manner. Since as an actress I must have a clear vision of what the character feels and where she is heading. The art, that Christian masters, is perhaps that he does this without forcing any intentions on the viewer. Even I have a totally different impression of a scene’s effect when I see the film itself. Of course the skills of the both Christian Petzold and Hans Fromm make this possible, capturing a gesture, a face, etc. It is the creation of an expanse… of a space, where you can set your own imagination free. I think it is fantastic how we can end up surprising each other.