News from the Locarno Festival

Kinski: "Actors are made for creating stories"

Kinski: "Actors are made for creating stories"


You have long been an icon of arthouse cinema, and it all started from a key encounter with Wim Wenders, with whom you continued to work on several occasions. How did this precocious baptism (at the age of 14) come about and how did your relationship with him evolve?

Thank you, well I was younger, actually I was 12 almost 13 when Wim Wenders cast me as one of the roles in Falsche Bewegung and it was actually Lisa Kreuzer, actress and then wife of Wim who first spoke to me, it was a quiet and creative set, a crew that was wonderful. Then I worked with Wim two other times on two other films, but also right after my first one I started working with director Wolfgang Petersen, and Roman Polanski; Tess was for me a real introduction into French films as well as films coming from all over the world. Wim and I did two more films together: Paris, Texas and In weiter Ferne, so nah!. Working with Wim was from the start natural to me, he was quiet, extremely creative, not imposing but yet in a quiet way one wanted to be in his vision. I’m very thankful to him, Wim was my very first director, without him I don't think I would have ever become an actress. 


Another key figure in your career has been Roman Polanski, who pointed you towards the Actors Studio and cast you as the lead in Tess, for which you won a Golden Globe. What memories do you have of that time? 

Yes, Roman Polanski was very important to me as a person, he is an amazing director and showed me films from around the world, but then my biggest memory of one of my favorite films ever was when he screened for me Romeo and Juliet by F. Zeffirelli.
I also saw of course all of Polanski's films, Roman had me meet Isabelle Adjani, Catherine Deneuve, and Romy Schneider whom I deeply loved.
He gave the novel by Thomas Hardy, entitled Tess of the d’Ubervilles, and told me he wanted to make a film out of it. I took it to heart, and a year later we made it. Then going to the Golden Globes and the Academy of Motion pictures, seeing Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Sydney Poitier, Jodie Foster, Robert De Niro, etc. It was like a film in a film: Wim Wenders, Wolfgang Petersen, Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver)… Amazing people.


You have managed to cross back and forth between two worlds of arthouse film, the European one, particularly during that great era for German films in the 1970s, and the American one, working with directors of the caliber of Francis Ford Coppola. What are the main differences in the ways of working between these two worlds?

Whether it is cinema in Europe or America, what is important are always the people and the stories, that remains everywhere the same. 


What do you remember about working with a great author like Paul Schrader on the remake of the horror classic Cat People

Of course to do a remake – if one can call it a remake, because it was in a style of its own – is always strange and risky, but our director told us: lets make it ours. Paul Schrader is a great screenwriter who wrote Taxi Driver and other wonderful films. In this case we just needed to follow him and trust him as a director. We as actors need to follow the vision of our director, and one day Paul told Malcolm, John and me that David Bowie would be doing the title song. Paul was creating an atmosphere with David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder, that was giving him a unique feel. So now it was surely having its own uniqueness, John and Malcolm, David, Giorgio, the panthers. I was excited as well as a bit scared, but that is exactly what our work is as actors: creating stories…

Lorenzo Buccella

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