The actress about her new film “My Son”, the inner distance to her characters and how you learn to let go.
Ms. Engelke, the director Lena Stahl added a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke to the film “My Son”: “We have where we love each other / yes, only this: let each other / because that we hold each other / that is easy for us / and is not difficult to learn. ”Why is it so difficult for the mother you play to let her child go?
The film deals with the process of letting go that parents have to face at some point. I find that interesting. Because actually you live with children in the moment, you don’t think sixteen years ahead. During the preparation of this film, we retired to a house in the country for a few days, Lena Stahl, Jonas Dassler, who plays the son, and me. And there we talked a lot about mothers, of course, first of all about our own and asked ourselves what concepts of motherhood are worth striving for.
What was your conclusion? As the mother of three children between the ages of 25 and 13, you could bring your own experiences with you.
As always, I totally withdrew myself and my private experiences from the role. I don’t work at all in such a way that I wonder what experience I bring with me and what of it I put into a role. Of course, it’s important to play as authentically as possible. Because only what you feel can be seen on the screen or on the screen afterwards. But I can separate myself and the role very well. I don’t know whether this is automatic or something that has been learned. But I’m interested in the character, in this case the mother and photographer named Marlene. I am not interested in myself as Marlene. When I read the script, I was instantly electrified.
Anke Engelke: “Sometimes humor helps, just like in life”
This mother is full of fear. On the one hand. On the other hand, she is pragmatic and energetic. Have you been able to solve this woman?
Not quite. There is so much to it, doubt, grief, and a black lump of fear. It is heavy in her. I always had this image of a black lump in front of my eyes, it can’t get to it with a chisel, it can’t crush it. Sometimes humor helps, just like in life. Then suddenly a different connection emerges in the film between her and her son. There is a lot of non-verbal communication because you just don’t get a lot said. In the end, another side of Marlene emerges, and I asked myself, where does that come from, this lightness, couldn’t she have benefited from it earlier?
You speak from a great distance about the woman you play. Is the character so strange to you?
Yes I think so. I wanted to get to know her. I know myself very well. I’ve lived with me for a long time now.
Anke Engelke – only in front of the camera when she was 30 years old
Are you never a mystery to yourself?
I think I’m a bit of a special case here. Because I was noticed publicly at a very early stage, I was confronted early on with the fact that people had an opinion about me. I didn’t think that was so good and probably delimited myself out of a need for protection and don’t like to talk about myself.
You have grown up in front of the public.
And that wasn’t my wish at all. I didn’t moderate as a child because I wanted people to see me. At first it was a great vacation job, and then it expanded, I studied for twelve years at Südwestfunk in Baden-Baden. I found all of that very interesting, but the fact that I was noticed was initially collateral damage. Acting in front of the camera started very late. I was already thirty by then.
“From the outside I would probably also find myself interesting”
You are a public person, that cannot be denied. Is that a burden when, like any other actress, you take on a role in a movie? Do you have to allude against the public figure?
If I looked at myself from the outside, I would probably find myself interesting too. Well, how does she actually do it. That’s interesting. But since I am myself and live like that, I have a total distance from this public person. I have such a distance to myself that there is no such thing. As soon as I have made up, I work. That helps a lot. Then I make myself available. I don’t take it personally when someone likes me or doesn’t like me. So many people have opinions about me, unfortunately I can’t prevent that. I can completely detach myself from all of this when I work. The moment “Please” comes from the director, I give 100 percent. And when “Cut” comes, I’m done. I don’t take a roll home either, my family didn’t deserve it. What I gave then belongs to someone else. I don’t like control. I trust, I am a person who likes to trust very much.
Are you vain?
I am probably far too indecent for my job. Actually, that’s not okay.
Anke Engelke, born in Montreal / Canada in 1965, moderated TV and radio programs as a child.
She is known as a comedian from the “Wochenshow” and her series “Ladykracher”. As a synchronous speaker, she lends her voice to Marge Simpson, among others.
You can currently see Engelke in the lead role in the Netflix series “The Last Word” or on Amazon Prime Video in the first season of the comedy format “LOL – Last One Laughing”.
In the movie “My Son” (director: Lena Stahl) she plays the over-concerned mother of a reckless son, who is marked by bitter experiences.
Anke Engelke: “Then I’ll sit there like the country girl”
On the contrary. Vanity is a trap. When you take the acting profession seriously, it’s about the truthful portrayal of a person, says the great drama teacher Susan Batson.
Yes, but when I am asked how would you like your make-up, I sit there like the country girl and don’t know what to say. And although I have been sitting in masked mobiles for so many years and having make-up, I can’t do my own make-up. But I trust, and I also want to be trusted. the moment that “please” comes, I just want to work. If I hadn’t done my homework at that moment, I wouldn’t have lost anything on set. And when asked about the profession, I would have to state “mother and housewife” and not “actress”.
Is mother a job?
Absolutely. Housewife and mother, two not unimportant professions. I would really like to write that down somewhere as a job title and see what happens to the other person. No mother tells a boss, I can’t today, I’ll take care of my child. That’s what fathers say.
So it’s more than just a job in which you can call in sick from time to time. This film is about worrying about a son who is already of legal age and who was seriously injured in an accident, but who would be able to take control of his situation himself. Worry is actually a very nice term. We notice what happens when there is no concern. Does your character take care too much into their own hands? Is she an over-concerned?
Anke Engelke: “This is where worlds collide”
Let’s replace the term worry with the term caring. I am always interested in the different perspectives on one and the same phenomenon. You can turn this way or another. This mother makes sure that her son gets into a good rehab. She wants the best for the boy, and that’s a phrase that would piss her son off. The son perceives this as excessive, outrageous, clinging. What would be best for the son? Leaving him alone with the shattered leg? That would also be wrong. In the situation they are in, there is no right, there is only wrong.
The film points beyond the conflict situation between mother and son. It is also about the world in which the young generation will live. You see another family that has withdrawn to the country as self-sufficient. How do you see the future of our children?
Even if we think so big and think of the world, we come back to the small cell, this microcosm. In one scene, the mother notices that her son has obviously broken off the relationship with his girlfriend, via a text message. Worlds collide. This mother comes from a world in which you resolve this in a conversation in which you argue. I don’t even want to get into this dinosaur narrative, but privately I don’t even have a smartphone, I would never get the idea of simply sending a message in a very serious situation. This mother cannot cope with the fact that she did not convey to her son that it should not be done. She does what a lot of people do: she judges his behavior and wonders what she did wrong. In our enclave in the country, we imagined the stories of our characters in role-playing games. Everything affects us and our children. How we grew up affects our children even when we are absent.
Of course it is important that single parents are supported, nothing is more important than that
Has working on this role changed anything in your own life?
No, because I keep grappling with the subject of letting go of children. It’s been part of my life for a long time. I am a family person through and through and I need some people very much. Part of it is that I let go of them precisely because of that, or that I accept that they let go. I’ve had all of these situations before, nothing new has been added through the film. I also hide my personal life when I’m working so that I give the character I’m playing a chance to exist without my color. I don’t want to paint this figure Marlene, it should be her own color.
Anke Engelke: Single parents need support, nothing is more important than that
Let’s come back to worrying and letting go. Some things may change in family law for separated parents. According to coalition partner FDP, the changeover model should be the rule after separations. The children commute between their parents. Letting go is therefore prescribed by law. What do you make of it?
It’s such an individual topic. Every child is different, every mother is different, every father is different. If the child is better cared for by the father because the mother is unable to do so, then it should be there. And if the father is overwhelmed, has no time, no desire, no financial means, then leave the child with the mother. If both parents can manage this well and coordinate with each other, then they should split the care of the children among themselves. You want a society in which parents are able and invited to be honest and communicate with one another. If we unlearn how to do this in the small cell, our decision-making power is taken away. Then we are dictated from outside how we should live. I think that shouldn’t happen, not even by law.
There is the much-quoted African proverb: It takes an entire village to raise a child. The village is often absent. Also in this film. Mother and son are almost isolated. Where does it come from?
We thought about that a lot in preparation. I think: If the son’s father left early, it could be that this mother said to herself: I can do this on my own. Out of defiance, an injury. Of course it is important that single parents are supported, nothing is more important than that. And if someone then perceives that a mother is overwhelmed, then I wish that he or she would offer help without paternalism. (Interview: Christina Bylow)