Volker Bruch stars in Babylon Berlin as Gereon Rath, the vice detective loner who has simply been assigned to a new job after he moves to Berlin from Cologne, his hometown. Detective Rath suffers from PTSD and struggles with his morphine dependency. Bruch is paired with Peter Kurth as Bruno Wolter, and the two detectives must do their best to quell pornography and evil in the decadent Weimar Republic of 1929 Berlin. The film noir style cinematography and atmosphere of Babylon Berlin is the perfect setting for two vice detectives investigating a pornography ring. There are plenty of story strands to keep the mystery and plenty of true-to-the-period circumstances that involve all the characters.
The TV series cost $40 million to produce, and it is Germany’s most expensive ever. It is not a Network Original Series, but it is fabulous. Much has been mentioned about Babylon Berlin’s similarity to other period series made in the UK and the US. The producers believed that it was time for Germany to create an artistic work that would capture the docudrama audiences, and they have. Americans could think of The Great Gatsby era, with all its parties and freedoms, and they would see the similarities between the two eras. In the Weimar era that existed in Germany between WWI and WWII, nobody could see that the Nazi regime would emerge.
Volker Bruch has brought his acting skills and sensibilities to this drama which richly deals with society, cause and effect, and amazing depths of intrigue. He’s a veteran of period dramas, and historically savvy. He’s also an actor whose career is definitely on the rise.
Volker’s interested in history; but not in terms of dates, years or names.
His greatest interest in history is when it is connected to a personal story of some kind. When he discovers the personal story of his character, then he will find that he is instantly connected to that person and the past. Though he’s played many characters in historic films, he did not consciously choose those roles because they were historic characters. He’s had roles in The Baader Meinhof Complex, Young Goethe in Love, The Reader, and the recent Babylon Berlin. He did interview with HeyUGuys and mentioned that he found it exciting to arrive on the film set in historic costumes, and to see “everything dressed up in the manner of that time”. He noted that having that experience is like traveling in time. He also mentioned that historic projects involve technical changes in external things, such as social graces, language and clothing. Developing a solid approach to working with these things, and with historic devices, requires spending time with them. He also depends on the professionals on set who help actors navigate historic customs, costumes and objects.
Volker’s partner is Miriam Stein.
Miriam lives in Munich, but she was born and grew up in Vienna. Her father is Swiss, and her mother is Austrian. Her grandfather, who was from Germany, survived the Holocaust. She and Volker have been partners since 2009. She studied at the Paris Conservatoire for one year, and she graduated from the University of Arts, Zurich. Volker and Miriam had leading roles in the 2010 film Young Goethe in Love. They also had roles in Generation War; the 2013 mini-series about WWII which tells what happens to five friends and their differing journeys through the four years of the war. Volker narrates the story, portraying Wilhelm-the soldier who feels he is bound by honor to fight for his country. Miriam portrays Charlotte, who is secretly in love with Wilhelm
Volker prepared for his role in Babylon Berlin by using his grandfather’s razor and dancing all the time.
He told Variety that he was first attracted to the role by the “something fantastic”, “completely mad” quality of the project. He said that he wanted to be a part of it, regardless of how that panned out. He said that the costume department personnel were attractive to him from the very beginning. He repeatedly took out his suits from his closet so that he would be reminded of how to move elegantly. He began dancing “as if it were a matter of life and death”. He also “revived” his grandfather’s razor. All these things helped him to immerse himself in the period of the drama.
Volker believes that German film successes are those created by individuals.
In an interview with One News Page, he mentioned that German cinema is driven by the vision and creativity of the single director. He contrasted that to American movies which tend to emerge from large studios with enormous budgets. He noted directors Fatih Akin and Maren Ade as exemplars of visionary film directors who focus on personal vision. He also mentioned that movie premieres are hugely popular in European circles.
Volker says that he primarily works with his scripts to deeply develop his characters.
He believes that his scripts include all the details that he needs to create convincing characters. So, he spends large amounts of time pouring through them to glean information about the people he will portray. He depends on his scripts to give him the depth he needs, and for that reason, he internalizes as much of the information as thoroughly as possible.
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