Actress Marie Rathscheck joins us on Close-up Culture to give us insight into her lead role in Susanne Heinrich’s debut feature Aren’t You Happy? (Das Melancholische Mädchen).
Q: Can you start off by telling us about yourself, your background and why you chose the acting path?
A: I grew up with an older sister, a French mother and a German father in Stuttgart, then moved to Berlin at the age of 18. I was curious to find out what power looked like, so I took an internship at the German Bundestag. Then I started my studies in creative writing for the stage at University of Arts Berlin and after that Acting at the University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch Berlin.
Two years ago, I moved to Leipzig to work at the city’s main theatre, Schauspiel Leipzig. I don’t know how or when I chose the acting path, it just happened somehow – although my mother always claims she knew I would become an actress since I was a little kid.
Q: ‘Aren’t You Happy’ sounds like a surreal, stylish and layered film. What was your first impression of the style and Susanne Heinrich’s vision?
A: I thought it was great to have such a clear aesthetical yet still funny approach to social criticism.
Q: Can you tell us bit more about your character and the people she encounters along throughout the film?
A: I play a young writer suffering from blank page syndrome, wandering around in a big city looking for a place to sleep. She is smart and lost. Strong and fragile. At times it seems as if she is wearing an invisible armour, protecting but at the same time distancing her from the world.
Throughout the movie she meets various stereotypical characters – like a therapist, an existentialist, an over ambitious mother etc. These random encounters lead to bizarre, funny and often very revealing insights about our society.
Q: ‘Aren’t You Happy’ recently won the 2019 Max Ophüls Prize. The jury said: ‘Finally, a film is able to give voice to a whole generation of sad girls’. Did the themes of this film strike a chord with you personally?
A: Yes, it does absolutely, although I’m not that sad in general. We have got a lot of feedback from people of all backgrounds and ages, so I think it’s not only a film about women of my generation and the movie touches a lot of more universal aspects of everyday life.
Q: I’ve heard the film is very quotable. Do you have a favourite line?
A: Yes, it is. I don’t have one particular favourite line. But one line I really like is: “My body is a war zone on which all the world fights its battles. It belongs to everybody else more than it belongs me, so I can also just release it for use.”
Q: I did see an entertaining clip from the film of you sharing a bathtub with a man. What did you enjoy most about making this film and playing this character?
A: Making the movie was an incredible journey. I was riding a stallion disguised as a unicorn, singing a song Susanne wrote for the movie and even shooting a six minute walking scene on a treadmill while eating an ice cream cone just in one shot. Doing all of this in one movie was very challenging, but also so much fun.
Q: This is director Susanne Heinrich’s debut feature. What was Susanne like to work with?
A: Susanne is fantastic. She is a really ambitious, hard-working director. We rehearsed for almost a month before shooting the movie, which means we had a lot of time to develop the scenes together. Working with her was great, amongst other things because she is so straight forward.
Q: What are your hopes for the future?
A: I’d love to work with Yorgos Lanthimos one day. Besides that, I really hope to find a good balance between being a stage actress, a film actress and a playwright.