A look that rubs off, a platonic male marriage and what Corona made of Zurich. Heino Ferch reveals exciting details about the “Allmen” series.
In “Allmen and the secret of eroticism” (March 27th, 8:15 pm, the first) based on the bestseller by Swiss author Martin Suter (73), the supposedly aristocratic art detective Johann Friedrich von Allmen himself steals precious porcelain to show his passion for the Beautiful to give in in several ways. Actor Heino Ferch (57, “Comedian Harmonists”, “Der Beischläfer”, “Ku’damm”) gives a look behind the scenes of this unusual and successful series (since 2017) in an interview with spot on news.
What is special about the “Allmen” series for you?
Heino Ferch: With the format we have a unique selling proposition in Germany: It combines a bit of crime with a lot of entertainment and the narrative style is also something special. We have off-texts, stop-tracks, I look into the camera and make direct contact with the audience. In addition, the Swiss author Martin Suter has created a character in the novels for our films who works against this German insurance world champion mentality.
The man describes himself as completely overinvested – a more elegant way of describing bankruptcy – and still lives on a large scale. He does not want to get on the nerves of his environment with inappropriate clothing and does not otherwise adjust his lifestyle to his income, but the income to his lifestyle. With this Anything Goes attitude, Allmen is a wonderful person, with whom I can take a vacation from myself. He takes us into another world, a world of lightness that we all sometimes very much want.
How are you enjoying Allmen’s styling?
Ferch: When we made the first film five years ago, Allmen’s appearance was of course a big issue. It was a process between me, the make-up and costume designers, and the director. It was always clear to me that Allmen needed this popper mat as a hairstyle – I personally wear my hair very short – and that he is excellently dressed. Martin Suter describes the character in his novels in a similar way, but we created and expanded the look for the film character ourselves with great meticulousness and in teamwork of creative people.
Could you also imagine appearing like this in private on a given occasion?
Ferch: I also wear a suit for certain occasions. In everyday life, however, I’m more of the classic jeans T-shirt type and above all I like it comfortable and a little sportier. I just have to feel good. Since all I have been appreciating great suits and tailor-made shirts. I even have to admit that his way of handling clothes has rubbed off on me. It’s nice to deal with.
Can you use items of clothing from the set privately?
Ferch: No. In the coming year we are shooting the meanwhile fifth “Allmen” film, so after excellent cleaning everything will be neatly locked into a private fund that is well guarded and cared for so that this rather expensive cloakroom, which is tailor-made with fabrics from Italy and England, will last a long time preserved. In this respect I unfortunately do not have the pleasure of being able to use these pieces privately.
Allmen’s chosen expression is also interesting. Upscale small talk hits it pretty well. Do you find it easy to learn these texts?
Ferch: Learning the text is not the topic. For an actor, this is roughly comparable to an artist standing with a brush and paint in front of a white canvas. This is the basic equipment. Then it only starts. Our scriptwriter Martin Rauhaus developed the language because Martin Suter rarely used direct speech in his novel.
The challenge for me as an actor is to speak this collection of pretty exquisite words, flat, straight, fast and very naturally. Otherwise it will look totally swollen. It has to sound like his everyday language. His language is also one of the special features of our “Allmen” films. It fits this hedonistic but also lonely bon vivant who lives in a kind of platonic male marriage with his butler and best buddy Carlos (Samuel Finzi). It is really a pleasure to be able to play the main character in such a great format.
Do you personally share Allmen’s interest in art? If so, which art genre do you find most fascinating?
Ferch: Yes, I definitely share Allmen’s interest in art. For me, however, it’s more expressionist painting. For example, you could give me the greatest possible pleasure with a self-portrait by Max Beckmann. But I also enjoy photography. Installations, sculptures or porcelain, on the other hand, are not really for me.
The “Allmen” films are set in Zurich. How do you like the city?
Ferch: The novels are set in Zurich, but we shoot almost everything in Prague. Nothing against Zurich, but the Art Deco and Art Nouveau backdrops in these great rooms can only be found there. However, we usually spend a day of filming on Lake Zurich. For the current film, we have re-dubbed a scene from the first film because we couldn’t go to Zurich this time due to the Corona. In another scene for “Allmen and the Secret of Eroticism” we used digital montage, otherwise it would not have been possible either.
How was the shooting under Corona conditions? Have you got used to it? Would you say that is possible?
Ferch: Yes, that is possible. I just had my 94th corona test since mid-August 2020, since the production line was fully up and running again. I’ve made five full films since then. For me, thank God, no project has vanished into thin air. There are rapid tests and PCR tests every day for people who are closer together. We actors put ourselves in private quarantine a few days before shooting begins.
These are the rules of the game with which we can all continue to work. Anyone who does not follow the rules of the game is not allowed to continue working. But everyone does it and we have a lot to do because the TV channels and streaming services need programming. We have all got used to it, there is no alternative. It is very different for colleagues in an industry that depends on a live audience.
The Corona conditions do not affect creativity?
Ferch: No. We are all professionals enough. Even without Corona, there are always unpleasant situations that you have to go through.
What can you reveal about the next “Allmen”?
Ferch: “Allmen und der Koi”, the sixth Suter novel, is set in Ibiza. So when we shoot the film next year it will be a whole new setting. I’ve never been to the island before and I don’t know if there is such a unique architecture that we can’t shoot the film in Mallorca as well. In any case, next time we are not in Zurich / Prague.