Are all actors and actresses narcissistic?

Our stars and starlets give intimate insights: "Actor Confessions": Narcissism, what else?

A good number of German stars and starlets, at least 21 in number, did it once after all. From Rosel Zech to Ulrich Matthes, from Marie Bäumer to Daniel Brühl, in long interviews or, less often, in shorter self-contributions. They make "confessions", as this book wants us to believe. Of course, this has little in common with the "confessions" with which Jean-Jacques Roussau once still posthumously shocked his readership. The title simply follows the volume "Direction Knowledge", which the same publishers brought out a year ago. And let's just say that beforehand: The film creatives behind the camera were naturally more open than those in front of them. The problem in itself is that the actor always has to play a role and is never completely himself in public, but always thinks about his effect and tries to control it. So with these "confessions" you always have to navigate through anecdotes and read a little between the lines.

Christiane Paul admits that for a while she "struggled" from shoot to shoot ", and Robert Stadlober that he played some roles without great ambitions, more like" well, 'painting by numbers' ". Oh well. Axel Prahl is already more specific. He warns in advance that actors are "excellent liars", and must be: because the lie (like the theater mime) needs a good memory. At some point he also slips out that he was "always with his nose ahead", and he provides the reason at the same time: "Short-grown people always have to make up for a deficit." There it is, the vase; who becomes aware of its emptiness and tries to overplay this flaw. Andrea Sawatzki also admits quite frankly that filming time is "always a bit of luxury, a liberation, a bit of psychological study, vacation from yourself." At home she finds it difficult "to get along with me. Because it keeps boiling. And it can't go out." A vase (Mimin) wants to say something literally through the flower (roll); plays a role in distracting from yourself.

Rarely the opposite, as Udo Samel admits - perhaps most frankly. He had first studied philosophy; out of arrogance and presumption: "to be wise and to be able to stand up before the others". When he changed his mind and switched to drama school, he realized what "essential communication skills I had almost lost". Samel is likely to be the big exception in his profession; The bacillus of arrogance usually takes a certain amount of success to become established. Vanitas vanitatum; everything is vain: that of course is the creed that many people voice in their confessions.

Matthias Schweighöfer, Everybody's Darling of the Young Guard, sums it up frankly: "Every actor who rejects narcissism lies. Because that's what the job is about." Sylvester Groth, the brilliant Goebbels in the less brilliant "Mein Kampf" hit, is even more open, vain to the point of misanthropy: He loves to play alone with the camera, preferably without a counterpart: "Of course I don't want to get too close to anyone step, but your imagination often brings you closer to what you really want. " His ideal case was the shooting of the film "The Stay": "I was often alone in front of the camera. It was so nice."

Christian Berkel sees it quite differently, but obviously no less drive-controlled: "What takes place there," he admits, "is erotic, libidinal and deeply Oedipal. As in love with women, the director is the other half in the work I am looking for to become a whole. " An act of desire, a pas-de-deux, whether with the camera or the person behind it. Freud would be delighted with these self-interpretations. Actors who fall in love with their film partners in the old-fashioned way during filming can no longer be taken seriously afterwards: acting seems above all to be an act of masturbation.

These are, of course, all confessions with plenty of winking. You don't want to stand there as an empty vase, you have to offer something. But it is interesting how the respective confessors proceed with the insights into their innermost being. Hannah Herzsprung cleverly bypasses her credo as an actor by limiting herself to the question of whether she can call herself an actress. Udo Samel refers to quotations from Shakespeare and Kleist letters, Christian Berkel refers to Proust and Axel Prahl likes idioms ("What Hänschen doesn't learn ..."). Here too: the art of self-presentation, playing with one's own image.

When the German Film Academy was founded four years ago, its largest department, the drama guild, was surprised to find that every other section - directors, producers, etc. - already had its own associations; just not them. As one of the first academy events, all mimes were invited to a screening of the actor's documentary "Die Spielwütigen", after which all those involved exchanged their own experiences in a spontaneous group therapy. The "Confessions" read like a continuation of it. Not collectively this time. But the layman can also enjoy it. And he learns: some vases have a right to stand on the shelf even without a flower.

Béatrice Ottersbach et al. (Ed.): Actor Confessions. UVK Verlagsgesellschaft, Konstanz, 350 pages, 24.90 euros.