The setting and the clothes

Carla Juri on Anne Bennent, Ursula Werner and working with children in When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Carla Juri with Anne-Katrin Titze on When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Six Minutes to Midnight, and Blade Runner 2049: “I think it’s a combination between the setting and the clothes for me.”
Carla Juri with Anne-Katrin Titze on When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Six Minutes to Midnight, and Blade Runner 2049: “I think it’s a combination between the setting and the clothes for me.”

In the second instalment of my conversation with Caroline Link’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit star, Carla Juri, she talks about costumes and walking into the apartment of your character, working with children, the presence of Anne Bennent and Ursula Werner, Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, Peter Greenaway’s Walking to Paris with Constantin Brancusi, tapping into the past, and playing the piano.

Carla Juri, Riva Krymalowski, Oliver Masucci, and Marinus Hohmann star as the Kemper family, with Justus von Dohnány as the family friend who sends them updates from Germany, the country they had to flee, in Link’s adaptation with Anna Brüggemann of Judith Kerr’s novel.

Dorothea (Carla Juri) with her children Anna (Riva Krymalowski) and Max (Marinus Hohmann)
Dorothea (Carla Juri) with her children Anna (Riva Krymalowski) and Max (Marinus Hohmann)

Following welcoming remarks by Dirk Schulz, Deputy Consul General at the Consulate General of Germany Los Angeles, NYU Deutsches Haus Director Juliane Camfield moderated a conversation with Caroline Link, Oscar winner for Nowhere In Africa.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Greetings Juliane and Caroline! I just spoke to Carla Juri in Iceland. The actual rabbit toy in the film looks perfect (is it a Steiff?) - did you discuss the looks of it with Judith Kerr?

Caroline Link: Ha! This is maybe a little bit a mistake. Because Steiff, a rabbit like this didn’t exist in 1933. And we painted it pink, as maybe you saw. And it is the toy that Judith Kerr had was much older in a way that it looked different. But we couldn’t find a toy from the Thirties that wasn’t completely - how do you say zerrupft? Wrecked! And so a rabbit that was maybe a little bit too big and the pink was not 100% perfect for the time. I’m not even sure if Judith Kerr remembers it right, that her rabbit was pink, because we couldn’t find many toys from that time that were really pink. So the rabbit was a huge discussion. It took us forever to make a decision which rabbit to take.

From Iceland, Carla Juri joined me on Zoom for the second instalment of our in-depth conversation.

Caroline Link on Anna (Riva Krymalowski) with her pink rabbit: “It took us forever to make a decision which rabbit to take.”
Caroline Link on Anna (Riva Krymalowski) with her pink rabbit: “It took us forever to make a decision which rabbit to take.”

AKT: In both Six Minutes to Midnight and Pink Rabbit you are dealing with children. How is it acting with children?

CJ: Fine.

AKT: It depends on the child?

CJ: No, you have longer hours because they can’t work that long. They’re only allowed to be on set for a certain time. So the rhythm is different with children. Especially with Pink Rabbit. Six Minutes, they were all around their twenties, so it’s fine. But for Pink Rabbit it just took much longer which was nice. I kind of like that.

And because they are just as they are, not acting school tricks or any of that. I really like that. The director has the big job and needs a lot of patience, because they get bored quite easily. They don’t want to do it again over and over, so you know, they are quite demanding. But I like it. You always learn from them. It was part of the reason why I wanted to do it, because I wanted to see how it is to work with children, who are just spontaneous.

AKT: When I spoke with Isabelle Huppert, she told me that it always is the shoes that help her get into a role, more than the rest of the costumes. You have some great pants and dresses to wear too, in Pink Rabbit. Does it help you?

Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri) with ‘K’ (Ryan Gosling) in Blade Runner 2049: “The white and that kind of Japanese pyjama look.”
Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri) with ‘K’ (Ryan Gosling) in Blade Runner 2049: “The white and that kind of Japanese pyjama look.”

CJ: Yeah, they do. It helps massively. Especially period, but also modern. It’s like walking into the apartment of your character. Wearing its clothes has a similar effect on you. Or changing your hair or hats. For me, hats! They do quite a lot if there is any.

AKT: In period more than now.

CJ: Exactly. Also the colour of the clothes, I think. The Blade Runner stuff as well. The white and that kind of Japanese pyjama look. There it was also the setting. I think it’s a combination between the setting and the clothes for me. And then having the time to spend time in those clothes. To have them before, wear them before you start shooting, just kind of wear them out in private as well, experiment with it. Not just on set, also in normal life.

AKT: That makes sense. You’ve worked with Peter Greenaway on a film about Brancusi! Which is yet to come out, at some point?

CJ: Yeah, at some point, yeah. Ha, ha, ha. Who knows when!

AKT: You can’t say anything more about it?

Thomas Miller (Eddie Izzard) with Ilse Keller (Carla Juri) in Six Minutes To Midnight
Thomas Miller (Eddie Izzard) with Ilse Keller (Carla Juri) in Six Minutes To Midnight

CJ: I think I can. In terms that it’s a story about Constantin Brancusi, who was a Romanian sculptor. He was a shepherd and ended up becoming a sculptor. And apparently he walked from Romania to Paris. He wanted to walk to feel the texture of the land through Europe. To put that texture in his sculptures. So the film is about that. It’s about his journey from Romania to Paris.

AKT: And your role?

CJ: I accompany him for a certain amount of time.

AKT: I believe Werner Herzog walked from Munich to Paris. I wonder if Brancusi’s walk had any influence on that.

CJ: Oh, there you go! Yeah.

AKT: Back to Pink Rabbit, I did at first not recognize Anne Bennent as the concierge. She is a very strong presence there. How was it acting with her?

CJ: It was great. You just hit the floor in a second and you just run. It doesn’t happen always. It’s nice when it’s like that. Direct and confident.

Carla Juri on working with the children: “They’re only allowed to be on set for a certain time. So the rhythm is different with children.”
Carla Juri on working with the children: “They’re only allowed to be on set for a certain time. So the rhythm is different with children.”

AKT: The actress who plays Heimpi [Ursula Werner] the housekeeper in Grunewald, who mainly takes care of the children] - you have some good scenes of almost competition, where it shows how the children are a bit torn, because they love her so much.

CJ: Yeah, I guess I didn’t feel the competition in that sense, but I think she [Dorothea] was a woman who was not just a mother. Not that there’s any woman who’s just a mother. But I mean, like you said before, she went to the opera, she enjoyed herself. She made sure she had time without her children. And Heimpi would take care of all that, bathing them and all that. I think it’s a little bit the old-school way that if you are wealthy, you don’t raise your own children.

AKT: Exactly.

CJ: So I had to tap into that way of thinking that is past, but who knows, into that education approach. That’s just how it was; I think they just saw it in a different way. What I read about the mother, she wasn’t overly mothering. She didn’t have that very strong mother instinct. That’s another reason why there is a bit of an ambiguity with the daughter. I kind of just embraced that a little. I don’t know if it comes across.

Atom Egoyan with Anne-Katrin Titze’s Steiff rabbit
Atom Egoyan with Anne-Katrin Titze’s Steiff rabbit Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: It does. Do you play the piano?

CJ: When I was a kid. I stopped. I played regularly till about 18 and then with the traveling around, you can’t just take your piano with you.

AKT: It’s a lovely scene with the piano. You can feel the energy coming back into her life.

CJ: Yeah.

Read what Carla Juri had to say on protecting the children, escape being an adventure, Judith Kerr, and the dark mirror of the characters she plays in When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and Six Minutes To Midnight.

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