For his latest film, Kostja Ullmann slipped into the role of Rico Weber, who is reminiscent of the true story of the "death nurse" Niels Högel. Between 1999 and 2005 he committed numerous murders as a nurse in various clinics in Germany. In an interview with Stern, he talks about the feeling of playing such a person for the film "Dasweiße Schweigen", but also about funny and embarrassing moments in his career, such as a nude dance.
The film "The White Silence" is based on a true story, scary idea - how did you prepare for the role? The main focus of the film is the question: How did it come to this that such a series of killings of patients can happen ? I actually remembered the original case a little bit, but of course not in as much detail as I needed for the role. Then I started to delve deeply into creating the character Rico Weber and empathizing with the character. It's my job as an actor, even with a killer, to gain some understanding of the actions and feelings of the character I'm playing.
How do you empathize with a serial killer? The basic questions in the preparation are: What does a person get out of committing such acts? What moves him? In addition to Niels Högel, there have also been other series of killings in clinics and care facilities worldwide. I dealt with all of this very deeply and from this research, the script and my own interpretation I then created Rico Weber.
When you first read the manuscript, did you think, "Oh yeah, I want to play the serial killer?" I actually found it fascinating to learn who the person behind it was. How can anyone derive a sense of power from such acts? Like an addiction, Rico Weber apparently draws a feeling from it that makes him happy. I found it extremely exciting how someone becomes such a person and also walks over corpses, in the truest sense of the word, just to create that feeling in them.
Her gaze at the sentencing in the film is cold, malevolent and frightening. How did you feel about it? I try to let myself fall into the role. Since Rico Weber didn't get a say in the negotiation and was a sideshow, I had to convey the emotions through looks. He sees himself as a victim at the moment and doesn't see his crimes. As an actor, I try to understand his emotional world. It's also very exhausting to keep going into this situation, since shooting in the courtroom took place over two days with many interruptions.
You smoke in the film - do you smoke in real life? No, but I used to be a party smoker. I gave up because I never looked good doing it. Normally there are herbal cigarettes for non-smokers on the set during smoking scenes, but I can't tolerate them and then I have to use the lightest normal cigarettes.
In the film "Dasweiße Schweigen" you dance to the song "From Sarah with Love" - how was it after years to smother Sarah Connor? I used to think Sarah Connor's music was super cool when the film was also set I stood on the dance floor It's a little different these days and it was a bit strange to play a romantic scene.
You even danced ballet as a kid, now to Sarah Connor. What was the most embarrassing dance you've ever done? That was for a film with Marie Bäumer - but I won't reveal the name of the film now. There was a story about a young guy having a sexual relationship with an older woman. Unfortunately, he had the problem that he always finished sex far too early. She then gave him a tip that was successful and also fulfilling for her. When he had done that, he jumped up and danced over her for joy. The embarrassing thing was, I was completely naked and I was only about 16 years old. Marie Bäumer was below me and probably didn't have the best view. That was my most embarrassing dance moment and it's still on camera.
Do you find filming sex scenes difficult or uncomfortable? No, you get used to it. There are quite a few people standing around and you have to pay attention to so many things. If the light is right, I don't cover the other person. The piquant parts are often masked and there are intimacy officers who look after the scenes and ensure that everyone feels comfortable. But now I don't really care who sees what on the set.
The film "The White Silence" is available for streaming on RTL.