Interview with Louis Hofmann (Germany): “I love how German Cinema has evolved in the last couple of years; how it has lost the fear of doing something wrong”

Interview with Louis Hofmann (Germany): “I love how German Cinema has evolved in the last couple of years; how it has lost the fear of doing something wrong”

by February 20, 2017

Louis Hofmann

Louis Hofmann (©Ralf Uhler for EFP)



By the age of nineteen, German actor Louis Hofmann has already received several awards, among which, the Bavarian Film Prize as Best Newcomer Actor for his performance in Marc Brummund’sSanctuary.” The Danish-German co-production, “Land of Mine” by Martin Zandvliet, in which he starred last year, is now nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Academy Awards. He is currently shooting the Netflix Series “Dark” in Berlin.

Sabine Kues spoke with him about his work as an actor so far and how he is coping with stardom, his experience as a 2017 Shooting Star, starring in Netflix and Amazon series, and the German Film industry, among many other subjects.



With nineteen years of age, you’ve been in the business for more than half of your life. How did you become an actor?

Louis Hofmann: I have. Yes, it’s been more than ten years and I got into it because a friend of my mom’s worked for the German Television where I just rated, for example, theme parks or you would go paddling on a river and rate it. I actually did it once a month for two years. And, at the age of eleven, I kind of decided to pursue real acting. I’ve talked to actors about their work and the way they always talked about it really fascinated me – the smile that came up on their faces… So, I just wanted to try it and went to an agency.

In 2016, you have been shooting a lot and have starred in critically acclaimed films. How are you coping?

L.H.: It is a good question and I get it a lot. People are wondering and I’m wondering as well, because I don’t know how to cope. I feel like it’s just happening and I’m not trying to cope with it on purpose. What I am trying, is just to be happy about it. And, I’m so enthusiastic and full of adrenalin all the time. It can be normal after this period, but right now it’s just overwhelming and great.

Apart from winning prizes, Land of Mine is also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Will you be travelling to Los Angeles?

L.H.: I will. I’m leaving in one and a half weeks and I’ll be staying there for four or five days. It’s not going to be possible for me to join the ceremony because, you know, the tickets are very limited. But, I’ll be there and I will try to catch the vibe and go to the party and the gatherings of the Film Funds and German Films. I think it will be exciting and overwhelming.

How are you living the Shooting Stars experience?

L.H.: It’s keeping us busy. It’s from early in the morning until late at night. It’s a very strict program. It’s about photo shootings, press, international casting meetings. It’s great and I’m grateful for the opportunity. But, what I also really love is the group of people I can spend these days with. They are all really nice and it is interesting to talk to them about films and their opinions. And, to sit there with nine other different cultures is pretty amazing.

Your background is more “learning by doing” as you didn’t go to an acting school. Are you considering catching up on that? Is it necessary at all, as you have come this far already?

L.H.: I can’t really tell if it is necessary. I just know it has worked out so far, but I do want to learn something in the future. I don’t want to be at some stage and be stuck there. I want to always develop my acting skills and improve them. So, I would like to go to New York or Los Angeles and spend three or six months in an actors’ studio.

You already show diversity in your acting with two TV series: You Are Wanted for Amazon and Dark for Netflix. How is that different to shooting a film?

L.H.: For one series, I was only shooting for four or five days, but now, the Netflix series is keeping me busy for six months, which is a very long period of time to work on a project. Land of Mine was, I think, the longest with seven and a half weeks or so. I thought it would be more of a regular thing – because when you work on a film you push yourself to the limit and you go all high, and when it finishes, you go all low. But, you can’t push yourself so high in a series because it doesn’t stop – it just keeps going… So, you have to find a level you work on for six months. But, it is also nice because you can prepare the role differently. You have a long time to let the role develop itself, to let the character gain more depth. You have more time. That is the difference and I like it. When you are doing a film, you are so devastated to leave your family after six weeks or two months and now, I have a family for six months, so it’s great!

How do you choose your film projects?

L.H.: Well, it’s a combination of the script overall, because your character can be as great as it might be, but it’s not great if the whole script is not working. If the story catches me, if it is something new, something untold, something I feel attached to, something that moves me and my character is also interesting – then it is a must for me. For Dark, I’ve been reading the scripts by the scriptwriter Jantje Friese and I just don’t know where she got it from. It is very unique. I’m so happy to be part of it.

Are you always looking for a challenge?

L.H.: Yes, always. The Centre of my World was a huge challenge for me, because I was actually really afraid to get on with that part. I was afraid of the intimate scenes, but also the character in general, because it is really quite far from my own personality. I knew it was going to be a long way to work on that character and to actually find it. It was a great work with Jacob [Erwa], the director, and, at some point, I felt like I was not playing the character on purpose – it was just happening. That is a great feeling!

The characters you choose are going through very physical hardship. How is that for you as an actor?

L.H.: It hurts sometimes. When you get hit, it does hurt. You cannot not get hit, because you see it on camera. So, you have to be prepared to fully encourage yourself in that particular scene. But, physical things are not as hard to deal with afterwards, compared to the psychological impact. Because, when I played those scenes in Sanctuary or in Land of Mine, it was about what happens in your mind. The physical impact is more a thing of the moment and it hurts the next day because you have a bruise, but the psychological things, you can really take them home.

But, have you found a way to let go of that at some point?

L.H.: Yes, I don’t know how to do it. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t…

How do you perceive the German film industry? Is it something you look out for?

L.H.: I love German Cinema, really. I love how German Cinema has evolved in the last couple of years; how it has lost the fear of doing something wrong. It’s becoming braver and the stories seem to become more unique – just like you can tell from Toni Erdmann.  It’s very German but it’s very unique and I love the way the Germans tell stories.

For the future, are you more interested in international productions? Do you have plans?

L.H.: A master plan? The master plan would be to combine both, to be part of international productions, like European productions and English-speaking, if possible, but also German films, of course. But, at the end of the day, it’s about the story and if that’s great, I want to be a part of it.

By Sabine Kues