Close-up: An Interview With ‘303’ Actress Mala Emde

Title photo by Marco Krüger

Hans Weingartner’s new film, 303, follows two university students (played by Anton Spieker and Mala Emde) on a life-changing trip across Europe.

Ahead of the 303’s screening at Berlinale, Mala Emde joins us on Close-up Culture to give us fascinating insight into her experience working on the film.

Q: What was your reaction when you read the script for ‘303’ and what were your first impressions of Jule?

A: After I read the script, I thought: “Wow, someone has taken my words and put them in this script.” I have never read something like that, concerning the choice of words and the content of Jan and Jule’s discussions. The script is a mirror of my generation.

Q: I believe you spent around six weeks rehearsing and learning the characters. Can you tell us about that process and how important it was for you?

A: 303 works like a piano piece. You have to practise the notes until you know them 150%, then you become free and can play spontaneously with them.

Q: Can you tell us about your relationships with co-star Anton Spieker and director Hans Weingartner? How did your relationships develop over the process of making this film?

A: Oh, we know each other pretty well! Because we really did the journey from Berlin to Portugal, we had to be everything for each other – friend, coach, the person that you are angry with and especially believers in the project!

Q: The film follows Jule and Jan’s journey as they engage in deep talks about human nature, love and relationships. What were the conversation like when the cameras were not running?

A: On some days, we kept talking about the subjects because we were attached to them. On other days, we just danced and made stupid jokes after shooting because we were exhausted.

Q: ‘303’ sounds like it has echoes of Linklater’s ‘Before Sunrise’ – a film director Hans Weingartner was involved in. Was Linklater’s film and Julie Delpy’s performance part of your thinking while working on ‘303’?

A: We knew that Hans has been inspired by the original script of Before Sunrise but during the work process we concentrated on our version of a dialogue movie. And I love that version…


Q: How much did you enjoy being part of a road-trip movie? Can you share any fun memories from the shoot?

A: It sounds like a dream, I think! In reality, it was one of the most intense experiences in my life so far.

Ok but funny moments… Hans is crazy while shooting and doesn’t ever want to stop. One day I told him that we were running out of gas but he said that we should continue. We ended up on a one-way bridge, blocking all the traffic. Finally Anton had to take the little orange bike and cycle to a gas station. What a moment! He brought back the can while riding a tiny bike and wearing a straw hat — a real hero! Of course the camera was on when all this happened…

Q: I’d love to see footage! If you could take on one person from history – fictional or non-fictional – on a road trip like Jan and Jule’s, who would it be and why?

A: Jack Kerouac of course, he will always be king of the roads! And if not him then Patti Smith.

Q: Tickets for ‘303’ at Berlinale sold out in 8 seconds. What should audiences be excited for and should they be on the lookout for anything in the film?

A: This is no classic drama where the lovers are fighting against an obstacle and then reach a happy end… but a love story that enjoys the tingle before a kiss, a summer journey, really honest talks and moments for the whole length of a movie… and maybe a happy end too…


Q: You are also part of the TV series Charité with Alicia Avon Rittberg (‘Fury’). Can you tell us about the show and your involvement in it?

A: I played Anni Waldhausen, a pregnant doctor who believes in the ideology of the national socialism. But that changes when Anni has to realise that her own disabled baby is in danger of euthanasia.

The series also shows the lives of famous medicines like Adolphe Jung, Ferdinand Sauerbruch etc.

Q: What is next for you?

A: In March, I will shoot a movie called And Tomorrow The Entire World, directed by Julia von Heinz. And by chance I will do my first international project but psssst…


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