Renate Richter is back.
Seven years on from the release of sci-fi cult favourite Iron Sky, German actress Julia Dietze is revisiting the character for Timo Vuorensola’s sequel, Iron Sky – The Coming Race.
Dietze joins us on Close-up Culture to talk about the film, visiting a retirement home to prepare for the role, working with on-screen daughter Lara Rossi, and much more.
Q: ‘Iron Sky’ was an international breakthrough role for you back in 2012. You must have great memories of your time working on the film. How did it feel to return to the role of Renate Ritcher for ‘Iron Sky – The Coming Race’?
A: Yes that is so true, the whole “Iron Sky journey” from preparing the character, to shooting the movie, to traveling the world to promote the movie, left me so grateful that I was filled with pure joy to dive back into my character, Renate Richter.
Another fond memory is the crew I was so lucky to work with. My colleagues and Timo (the director) became close friends of mine. Together we experienced such a different world through the Iron Sky universe that we became a family through this journey.
Renate Richter became a little part of me. I love this character with all her flaws, which you have to have when you come from the dark side of the moon…(smiling)
Q: The trailer shows Renate confronting a dinosaur-riding Adolf Hitler. What excited you about this sequel and the journey it takes Renate on?
A: The sequel excited me because it reveals one of the biggest conspiracy theories of the world: that aliens enslaved the human race by infiltrating the highest echelons of society and blindfolding us through manipulation of our DNA. The entrance through the Antarctica to “Hollow earth”, which I see as a metaphor for the old “Atlantis” is filled with fantasy creatures and every Marvel fan will love the special effects.
The journey it takes Renate on was one of the most beautiful challenges in my acting career so far because she travels in time. I portray an age range from 24 years old up to 85 years old. This journey was abolutely mind-blowing and exciting for me. These are the roles you long for as an actress.
Q: You mention time travel and I understand you went to great lengths to prepare for this part of the role. Can you tell us about that process and how important preparation is to you?
A: Preparation is everything to me. It’s the foundation from which you build your character. You need to know the world you are living in, the moral values, which might differentiate from your own moral values, the body language, the inner needs and the different view on life. I love to explore these worlds and these atmospheres.
For preparation, I spent a lot of time in a retirement home to study the body language of the elderly women. The little mannerisms you pick up on help to make your performance precise and authentic.
Q: Lara Rossi plays your daughter in the film. What was it like working with the new and the familiar Iron Sky faces on this project?
A: Lara is a phenomenal woman and actor. She embodies the hero journey, which will inspire a lot of young women to see a female role model who speaks up for her values and fights for humanity. Playing the daughter of Washington and Renate she comes from a diverse background, which I believe should be seen in many more movies.
Q: The films have an incredibly passionate fan base. What have been your experience interacting with them?
A: There were some amazing encounters. One American biker tattooed my character on his leg and sent me a photo. The other day I was shopping in the supermarket and three guys went in the fruit corner on their knees screaming, ‘Iron Sky – we come in peace’ (laughs).
I got letters from Japanese soldiers, who photographed themselves in their backyards in their uniforms, and beautiful letters from young girls who wrote that I inspired them. I had no idea what an impact this movie had on the people.
The special part about Iron Sky is that – because it is partly crowdfunded – we have very active engagement with the fans. They play
extras on set, see the first spaceship designs online before they are built for the movie, and they have the opportunity to win premiere tickets and set visits, as well as little personal video messages from us. So the exchange is very creative and passionate, which I observed this year at Fantasy Basel – The Swiss Comic Com – where women showed up in my character outfit. That really moved me, to be honest.
Q: You also had a role in the action movie ‘Plan B – Scheiß auf Plan A’. Do you relish moving between different genres and taking on fresh challenges?
A: Yes, I love to dive into different genres and to explore different film universes. For Plan B, I trained for two months in Mixed Martial Arts, gun and sword fighting, which was super exciting. I love to get physical in my roles.
Q: What is next for you?
A: I am currently shooting an American ballroom movie in Vienna, where I have profited a lot from the experiences Let’s Dance gave me. The odd and funny thing about this movie is that we are shooting a Christmas movie in the middle of July with fake snow and warm clothes in the heat of the summer. The film industry is an obscure and fascinating place.
Q: Any ambitions or plans to share with us?
A: My ambiton is to make movies where the audience is moved and touched and might change their view on life for the good.
Title image by Oliver Wand
‘Iron Sky – The Coming Race’ releases in the US on 19 July