Article on Franka Potente and Tom Tykwer

by Vittorio Carli Franka Potente

originally published in "The Star"

 

Franka Potente and Tom Tykwer are one of the hottest acting/directing
couples in Europe.

They broke German box office records with "Run Lola Run," and the films packed crowds into select theaters in the US as well (when I saw the nearly sold out film at the Music Box Theater, most of the audience got up and
applauded at the end.).

In addition, the couple collaborated on "Winter Sleepers" and "The Princess
and the Warrior" which recently came out on video and DVD.

The Princess and the Warrior" is more abstract then and less accessible than
"Run Lola Run," but it is nearly as impressive (When I reviewed "Run Lola
Run" in "The Star," I gave it ***1/2 stars and I gave "Winter Sleepers"
***.)

Also, Franka has been making in-roads into the American market by taking on
a role in a big budget Johnny Depp film, "Blow." I recently spoke to Potente and Tykwer on the phone. They shared some interesting tidbits bout their
pasts and future projects, Potente grew up in Northwestern Germany in a town that was so small; it had no movie theater. She saw some plays and, she escaped by imagining herself on stage. She laughed on the phone and said, "Since I couldn't play the flute or violin, I decided to act."

Franka had worked with 16 directors, so I asked her how working with Tykwer
is different from working with other filmmakers. Her reply was: " He treats
everyone like they're in an extended family, and he lets everyone see the
script; he uses lots of praise so that the actors will want to satisfy him."

Franka is extremely knowledgeable about current films. When she was a child,
she saw hardly any movies, but now she sometimes watches over 100 films a
month.

She especially admires innovative directors, and she would like to work with
Lars ("Dancer in the Dark") von Trier, Ang ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon") Lee, and Spike ("Being John Malkovitch") Jonze. She recently did a
small part in Todd ("Happiness") Solondz's newest film, and she said, " he's
a great storyteller,"

Surprisingly, Potente's role model is not Hanna Schygulla or any of the
other great German actresses, but the American, Meryl Streep. She told me "
I have always loved Meryl Streep because she is such a consummate actress,
She was especially great in"Silkwood and " The Deer Hunter" as well as many
other roles.

Franka also said, " Johnny Depp is a an incredible actor." She played his
hippie wife in "Blow." She said I would have loved to have improvised some
scenes with him, but keeping a '70s dialect was all consuming (Franka
actually attended a university in Texas and her English is quite good.)

In contrast, Tom Tykwer was raised on films, and has had a passion for
making them since early childhood. When he was a kid in Germany, he made
little "Godzilla vs. King Kong" movies on a super 8 camera. Later he worked
in a move theater as a projectionist where he saw the cyberpunk classic
"Blade Runner:" He viewed it over and over, and he studied every frame.

Not everyone is enamored with his work, A recent article inn "Film Comment"
accused Tykwer of being less German than his peers, and that it said that he
essentially makes Americans films.

American films are sometimes attacked as being shallow in intellectual film
publications, but Tykwer defended them. He was especially enamored with "
Magnolia."
"Happiness," and "Being John Malkovitch."

He also has a love of classic Universal horror films, the works of Scorsese
and Coppola as well as the films of European masters such as Federico
Fellini and Igmar Bergman.

Tykwer would like to work with George Clooney some day, and he thought he
should have won an Oscar for his great work in "O Brother Where Art Thou."

Tykwer and Potente were intersting and gracious interview subjects, and they
seemed more knowledgeable about Ameican film than many Americans.


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