Following his directorial debut “Next Door” – which saw him poke fun at his international success as a movie star Daniel, forced to deal with a stalkerish neighbor on his way to a secret audition for a superhero movie – Daniel Brühl will be next seen in Matthew Vaughn’s spectacle “The King’s Man” as Erik Jan Hanussen, a stage clairvoyant born in 1889 and rumoured to have advised Hitler despite his Jewish origins.
The prequel to the popular “Kingsman” series, set for December release, will see history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds plotting a war to wipe out millions, as well as Rhys Ifans playing Rasputin.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with Matthew and the cast. It was a bit of a strategic choice because it’s a pivotal part. It’s not big, but I saw the potential for it to reappear later on, hopefully. That’s the first thing you check: Will they kill me? When will they kill me? How am I going to die?!,” Brühl tells Variety.
“The level of nerdy perfection that Matthew has, I found it incredibly interesting: every single shot is orchestrated, every single detail has to be 100% perfect. I was about to start my own film, so I said to him: ‘I hope you don’t mind having a German pain in the ass behind your back.’ Luckily, he was very supportive. He said: ‘Always make a decision, even if it’s the wrong one.’ Otherwise, you lose time.”
Brühl, currently at the Swiss festival as the president of the Feature Film Competition jury, was joined by Stéphanie Chuat, Andrea Cornwell and former Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick.
“Dieter invited me to the Berlinale jury in 2016. Now, being the president, I had to laugh out loud when I saw his name. ‘I am your boss? For a week?’ That’s hilarious,” he jokes, admitting he wanted to make the whole process more democratic.
“The first thing I said was: ‘There is no president of the jury,’ ” he says, mentioning other jury experiences alongside filmmakers Darren Aronofsky, James Gray and Tim Burton in the Cinéfondation and short films competition in Cannes in 2006. “That one was the best – short films mean you are done by lunch,” says Brühl, lamenting there is only one Golden Eye Award to be given.
“It’s difficult, but there is no plan. It’s nice when you discover someone new and help establish their career, but if the best film comes from someone with more experience, it would be unfair not to award it,” he says, recalling Jafar Panahi’s win at 2015 Berlinale.
“We called him on a secret phone, because he couldn’t leave Tehran. It was an incredibly touching moment, hearing his joy. The films I really care about, which were the initial reason why I wanted to become a filmmaker, are having a hard time and COVID-19 didn’t help. You need festivals and awards to promote this kind of cinema.”
The actor, who broke through in Wolfgang Becker’s “Good Bye Lenin!,” has been consistently working abroad, recently gaining acclaim for his turns in period drama series “The Alienist” and Disney Plus and Marvel’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”
“I didn’t hesitate for a second when I got in touch with Kevin Feige and Marvel. I profoundly like this kind of entertainment. In my own film, I mocked a couple of things that I did but that I am actually very proud of. I made fun of ‘Good Bye Lenin!’ or ‘The Alienist.’ Not so much of Marvel, because they have always treated me well. When they were interested in me, they would send me actual scripts, even though it was complicated to get them. I don’t know how many safety systems I had to download,” he says, admitting that in the past, he felt “disrespected” by some requests for auditions.
“‘Please tape yourself for this part, here are your four lines and the rest is blurred.’ You don’t know who the fuck you are supposed to play or what it’s even about, and they go: ‘We can’t tell you anything,’ ” he says.
“That was never the case with Marvel, although one of the people calling me in ‘Next Door’ is an actual Marvel producer, Helen. I didn’t tell her what the film was about, so I flipped it!”