Moritz Bleibtreu plays in the Joyn series “Blackout”, which is about a major power failure. How was the shooting in the dark?
What happens if there is a gigantic power outage across Europe? Moritz Bleibtreu (50) experiences it in the new series “Blackout” (from October 14, 2021 on Joyn Plus +). Based on the million-dollar bestseller by Marc Elsberg (54), the government and authorities fight with the effects of the blackout in the six episodes. Pierre Manzano (Moritz Bleibtreu), a former hacker and environmental activist, is the focus of the investigation under the direction of Chief Detective Jürgen Hartlandt (Heiner Lauterbach, 68). Who is responsible for the blackout?
In an interview with the news agency spot on news, Moritz Bleibtreu speaks about the challenging filming in the dark and explains how realistic the scenario of the series is. In addition, the actor reveals which film or series projects he is planning, how he spent his 50th birthday and how he feels about the number.
Gigantic power outage across Europe: How realistic do you find the scenario of the series?
Moritz Bleibtreu: You don’t want to shout out anything, but that’s not completely unrealistic, it’s not utopia, not science fiction. It’s possible, you’ve seen it several times. There have been several small blackouts in the past, I think in San Francisco, for example, where someone turned off the light for an hour and a half. Cyber security is certainly one of the most important issues at the moment.
Was it weird for you that some of the filming took place in the dark?
Bleibtreu: In the end it was annoying, it really depressed the mood. Towards the end it was really only dark. And that together with lockdown, curfews and so on – that was a bit oppressive. It was also cold and it was a very physical shoot with running and swimming. I was really happy when we were through with it.
What is the least you could do without electricity?
Bleibtreu: That is a very superficial question, because when the electricity is gone, then it’s gone. And then everything is gone and everything is missing. I’ve also been asked how to prepare for such a situation, with emergency power generators or whether you hoard candles. You can do it. But after five days at the latest, this is completely obsolete, as the series shows. The only thing that helps in a situation like this are friends.
Are there any things where you think we should focus less on electronics?
Bleibtreu: I’ve always said that I can turn off the internet tomorrow. I am still entitled to do so, I would have no problem with it. I think that’s good. Let’s just turn off the internet.
Disaster and curfews – did you feel reminded of the pandemic situation while filming?
Bleibtreu: That was of course a bit absurd. But if we’re honest, what’s happening to us is such an absurd situation anyway that it’s hard to compare it to anything. But of course it is absurd when you go to a film set with a mask on and the shooting is about the fact that people have nothing to eat because of the blackout. That took some getting used to. But in my situation I couldn’t do anything other than to do something with all the strength and love I have that inspires people.
You play the hacker and environmental activist Pierre Manzano. What does the role entail?
Stay true: Manzano has reached a point in his life where he has lost faith in idealism and change. He had this belief in his youth, at that time he wanted to change the world and actually tried to do it. Over the years these ideals have grown paler. And we find him at the beginning of the series in a situation in which he has nothing to do with it anymore, goes through life a bit curled up. Then the ghosts of the past catch up with him and that awakens his idealism. There isn’t that much in common between him and me. But I know what it is like when you have things in life that you don’t want to touch. And I think that is also a very universal emotional interface for the viewer.
Another series project is pending. In “Faking Hitler” you play the art forger Konrad Kujau. What is special about the role?
Bleibtreu: It’s the story of the Hitler diaries, the story of the Stern Reporter and Konrad Kujau, the meeting of the two, how it came about. I didn’t have to think about the role. I love forger stories, I’ve always liked them. And the man is also a great help, incredibly personable. Biopics are always that kind of thing, you have to have fun playing someone like that. Of course, Konrad Kujau brings an incredible amount to his personality. It was great fun doing that. And at the same time, the series is not so deadly serious drama-biopic-like, but dares to deal with the whole story with a wink. And that’s good for the whole thing.
What do you like about the production of series and what do you like more about filming?
Bleibtreu: I definitely prefer making films and self-contained stories. I grew up as an actor and back then shooting a series was about the worst thing you could have done as an actor. Simply because A was perceived as trivial and B people no longer perceive you as an actor. At the “Black Forest Clinic” there was always that thing that the people at Dr. Brinkmann called and wanted to have an operation. Because they actually believed: Wussow, that’s Brinkmann. When you think of Klausjürgen Wussow now, the first thing you see in front of you is this doctor. I hate to play a character for a year or two, that starts to bore me. I would like to play a new character again, I want to have a new genre, I want it to be sometimes funny, sometimes scary, sometimes exciting. You just have a lot more variety if you do one and a half or two hours. Or mini-series with six, a maximum of eight episodes, which I also think is good, that’s a cool format. Everything that goes beyond that has to be very cool to interest me. Incidentally, it is the same for me as a recipient. I like closed stories, if it takes too long I run out of breath.
Are you already planning your next directing or screenwriting work after your directing debut “Cortex”? Do you also want to be responsible for a series?
Bleibtreu: First I would like to make another film, then have a look. And as long as you can somehow still make cinema films, I’ll try to do that too. I know it’s not easy – especially as a producer – but I like films and I like cinema. That is of course a matter of taste, there are really great series and the whole world is watching them.
You recently celebrated your 50th birthday. How did you spend the day?
Stay true: celebrated, went out to eat and then in the company of loved ones, very relaxed and calm.
How are you with the number?
Bleibtreu: Good. It’s a bit like when you turned 18 that you think: I’m really 18 now, wow. But it’s okay. When I think about how I saw myself when I was in my early 20s, I can only say: everything is good and everything is on the right track.
A milestone birthday is often an occasion to take stock. How do you look back on your career so far? What were your biggest highs and lows?
Bleibtreu: I always pay too much to take stock. First of all, there would have to be complete peace and quiet so that you can then take stock. To me it always sounds like someone sitting at a desk takes a deep breath and then takes stock. But honestly, when I start to take stock at the age of 50, something is wrong. It’s like writing a biography when you are 25. (laughs) There are really no highs and lows either, it always went on somehow. There were louder years and there were less noisy years. But it went on and that’s the nice thing too. I’ve never cared too much about success, and that was never a parameter in my role selection. For me it was always just a matter of saying for myself that I have something to give a film and that I tell a story that I find exciting. Sometimes it went better, sometimes it wasn’t taken into account, but I never had to worry about my work and I find that very lucky.