How did your acting career start?
I saw David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’ when I was around 13, probably a bit too young to be watching such a movie. I remember that I felt absolutely mesmerised. It was so different, beautiful, mysterious, haunting, surreal and twisted. And that’s when I knew that I wanted to work in film. I got a place at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York and the first thing I did after drama school was a Yugoslavian war film in Los Angeles called ‘Remote Control’, a graduation film from the American Film Institute which went on to screen at the Sundance Channel and was even nominated for a Student Academy Award.
Where would you like to be in your career in 10 years time?
The life of an actor is so unpredictable. I never plan too much ahead as it always turns out differently. You are always dependent on other people’s decisions, what’s currently out there, what stories are being told and where you might fit in. However, you probably won’t be seeing me in a romantic comedy any time soon, as there is such a thing called ‘typecasting’ and I just don’t have the face for that. But I always preferred ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ over ‘Romeo and Juliet’ anyway. Since I am European and with the way I look I will most likely play many Euro-villains! I am already starting to get more of these roles now and I really enjoy it. Christoph Waltz, Stellan Skarsgard, Mads Mikkelsen are just a few examples. It’s so much more fun to play the cruel and bad guys, you get to do all that crazy stuff, and won’t get punished for it! Right now, because of age I mostly play the henchman or right hand man of the crime boss. So in 10/15 years time when I grow up I’ll hopefully get to be the crime boss myself and have my own henchmen! I am looking forward to that.
Where would you like to be geographically in 10 years time?
I have been living in London for over 10 years now, that’s the longest I have ever lived in one place. I love London, but I have never been fixed to one place only. You get around a lot as an actor, so as long as I am working I don’t mind at all where I am living. I love remote places, quite and isolated locations, but after a while I just miss as much the energy and hustle that you get only from a big city.
Would you like to take to the stage more (what plays/authors)?
Right now, I prefer working in film or TV, I just enjoy the whole process much more. I like that you focus and prepare for one scene at a time intensely and then move on, rather than repeating the same thing day after day. There are so many amazing filmmakers out there that I would love to collaborate with so right now my ambition and passion lies definitely more with film than stage.
Are there any particular rolls you’d especially like to play?
I have always been drawn more to the darker side of one’s personality. I love complex and unconventional characters, outsiders who don’t necessarily get a voice in the real world. I love character work, weird and eccentric stuff. People who walked through fire and came out the other side. I have always been fascinated by the human mind, psychology and different personalities. I think that’s why I chose to become an actor in the first place – to live many lives.
What has been the most trying time on set while directing your short film RED?
We were filming in a real hotel, and the final scene is very complex, with even 5 actors in the room at one point. Without giving to much away, it’s the climax of the film and it’s quite emotional, really intense and also violent, but the other hotel guests on the floor and also the hotel staff wasn’t supposed to know what we were doing, so it was very tricky to do all that secretly.
How did you conceive such a script?
‘Red’ is a dark thriller set in the underground world of illegal organ smuggling, you call it the red market. When you read something about the illegal organ trade it’s usually from the victim’s point of view. It’s mostly cases of people waking up somewhere, not knowing what happened and then discover that a kidney or something else is missing. But I thought it would be interesting to tell the story from another point of view – the people who are involved in such operations. What would drive someone to do such a horrible thing and how they cope with it. You could be a victim of your own surroundings but that doesn’t excuse the things you are doing, it’s a very dark and brutal world. It’s a character study of a damaged and guilt-ridden man who fell victim to the red market but desperately wants to leave all this behind him. I have always been drawn more to the side that you usually don’t see on the surface, so I thought this world with people like Ed, Mia and Niklas is very fascinating.
Do you ever get shy? If so, any examples of when?
Most great filmmakers and actors I know are actually quite shy people. You would never guess from their work, be it in front or behind the camera. But being shy definitely gives you another perspective on things, as you are usually observing things from the outside, which is very helpful when you try to create a character.
Has anyone ever made you starstruck?
I don’t think I have that starstruck gene. And having met and worked with famous people you realise it’s often just smoke and mirrors and the perception of a person you might have in your head through press or other media can often be the total opposite of what they are like in real life. What I do have though is tremendous respect, especially for great filmmakers that I admire. I have always been fascinated by great film directors – those who have a truly unique voice and vision.
Interview by Ian Casey
Photography by Andrea Vecchiato
Clothes: Shirt by Osklen – Blazer by Anthony Morato, Trousers by Anthony Morato, Shirt by Osklen – Coat by American Vintage