Benno Fuermann at KUKA

Posted By on 2012-11-27


The German actor was a guest in Augsburg

The German actor Benno Fuermann visited KUKA Systems for filming. For his new movie, “Less is more”, he spent a day in the “hallowed” halls in
Augsburg.Ulrich Pfaffenberger, a freelance editor and Josephin Schmidt, Marketing Specialist | Communication KUKA Systems took the opportunity for an interview to learn more about the new movie role and his social commitment.

Urlich Pfaffenberger, Josephin Schmidt: What role are you playing in the movie that you have come to KUKA to make?
Benno Fuermann: I play Frank Schuster, the boss of an automotive parts company who is outstanding at his job. He started at the bottom and worked his way up to the top of the company. When something needs to be repaired, he prefers to do it himself. He doesn’t like delegating. He is a practically skilled person, and I like him very much. I appreciate people who run their company well, fairly and efficiently, and who know what to do with a screwdriver in their hand. After an accident, the boss of the company, Frank Schuster, decides to take things a bit slower. At first, he experiences great difficulty in concentrating on the essentials. For someone who was always used to doing 18 things at once, it is extremely difficult to have nothing to do all of a sudden. It doesn’t go well at all. In his boredom, he tries to find jobs to do at home, and makes his family’s life a misery. He’s simply a do-er …

Based on your description of the man, it seems the role also has to do with responsibility. Does that only apply to oneself?
No, to others as well. I regard the man not just as a fair boss, but also as an easy-going father who is permanently pounding the treadmill. If he can’t go in one direction, he’ll try the other one. His family plays second fiddle, although that doesn’t mean he has forgotten them. He just keeps forging ahead because he knows what’s best.

Do you think a “do-er” like that would also make a good boss?
Hmm, yes! Because he understands other people’s problems. He knows, because he has experienced it himself. He knows what tools and machines feel like, and he knows about problems with working conditions and working hours.

What do you like about the role? Does it appeal to you? You’ve never played anyone like this before.
For me, it’s nice to grow slowly but surely into other roles. In the movie, my elder daughter is sixteen years old, the other is nine. What we are dealing with here is a mature man who has reached a central position in society and no longer needs to wonder about his place or task in life. Frank Schuster is representative for many of us who are in our late thirties, early forties. There comes a point when he realizes that the decisions he has taken have created his own world which is no longer as open as it once seemed to be. And so he asks himself, in the middle of his everyday routine: Is that all there is? I find this question very interesting, because I also want to answer it myself after 20 years in the movie business. I still find my work enjoyable, but I do keep the option open to head off in an entirely new direction sometime.

Without revealing the plot: does it have a happy ending?
Yes, it does. But there are a few unexpected twists and turns.

You play your role in the “old economy” – nuts and bolts, soldering, welding. Do you have any personal connection to this world? Maybe you played with engineering toys when you were a child?
Of course. I loved “Fischertechnik” toys. The higher, the better. My big dream was always to have a radio-controlled car, but regrettably I never managed it. I also tried for weeks to interest my daughters in building blocks. But they were in a girly phase, and I couldn’t compete with the dolls. Now we paint pictures together, which is just as much fun.

Have you ever filmed in Augsburg before?
I can’t remember. I think this is really the first time. I should say, however, that actors often arrive in places without knowing where they are. You concentrate, you prepare yourself for your scene, talk about it with the director and start filming. Often you don’t get to see much of the locations.

Maybe it would be worth taking a look at the soccer team …
Even there, I’m not up to date. I’m not someone who watches a lot of football. But I am pleased when our national team performs well.

You are a “Forest Champion” 2011/2012, which means you have been appointed as ambassador for forests by the World Wildlife Fund WWF. Is this an issue that you would like to urge the country’s bosses to tackle?
I think that nowadays there is no longer any excuse not to keep up to speed in terms of environmental policy and to strive to keep improving. We must all work together to preserve this world for our children. I notice to an increasing extent that a general reappraisal is underway. In the 1990s, green politicians were mocked. Now, the topic of environmental protection is front and center in our society. We have all got to live more sustainably, and stop plundering our planet’s resources. It starts with switching off the light when we leave the room, or not using the car when we don’t really need to. And amidst all this comes the issue of cardboard coffee cups. When I accepted the ambassadorial role for the WWF and the Forest Champion activity, I was horrified by the numbers involved in this wasteful activity. The consequences of this “grab and go” baloney are really crazy. It’s convenient, of course, but nowadays it can no longer be justified.

You played in the recent Tom Sawyer movie – a childhood dream?
You bet!

But you play Indian Joe, the baddie …
The baddie is always the best role. The kids are fascinated by me at the premieres. They are afraid, but at the same time they think I am really cool. They cluster around me because they want to find out if I am really such an evil guy. I notice how they put me under the microscope. And I also enjoy telling them that I’m only an actor. Being Indian Joe, someone who is outwardly evil and does morally reprehensible things, is one thing. The other thing is that this man is embedded in a narrative structure that explains how he suffers from racism. Because he is a redskin, he isn’t allowed to play with the others, he doesn’t get anything to drink in the saloon, he is kicked like a dog. But one thing is for certain: if you kick a dog, one day it will bite you back. That’s what the role stands for. You can also make children understand it: There are deeds that are simply unjustifiable. But no-one is born evil.

Isn’t that the best thing about acting – that you can pass on a message and not just exchange costumes and scripts?
That’s right. And particularly with children, I have an opportunity to give something new, to set down a few moral pointers.

Is there any other character you would love to play?
That’s a difficult question to answer. How you tell a story is much more important than the story you tell. I could say now: psychopath, police commissioner or master baker. But the personal life story behind the role is what makes it so exciting. I am interested in the dimension of a story – that’s what I’m looking for.

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