Best known for lead roles in Das Merkwürdige Verhalten Geschlechtsreifer Großstädter zur Paarungszeit alongside Christoph Waltz, or Nicht Ohne Meine Tochter, German actress Ann-Kathrin Kramer has long been a staple of German television. She spoke to Discover Germany about why she decided to move to Wuppertal, the current state of the German film industry and much, much more.
Leaving school at 16, working as a shop window designer, making portraits of tourists in Greece, applying to fashion school, taking the ‘Technische Abitur’, deciding against studying physics as first envisaged: Ann-Kathrin Kramer’s first career choices didn’t really reveal that she would soon become one of Germany’s best-known actresses. At the age of 26, she decided to go to the Gmelin Drama School in Munich and the rest is history. She smiles: “I don’t come from a family in which my path towards becoming an actress was mapped out. But, like many other girls I dreamed of becoming an actress, without having the slightest idea of how I could achieve this or of what this would really mean. Nevertheless, deep inside I was entirely sure that I wanted to become an actress.”
This determination paid off. Ann-Kathrin Kramer has since been seen in 30 Tage Angst, Nicht Ohne Meine Tochter, Blackout, Homies and many other great TV series or movies. “For example, I love Das Merkwürdige Verhalten Geschlechtsreifer Großstädter zur Paarungszeit and Mörderische Suche – two films in which the wonderful Christoph Waltz played my husband. I also really remember Die Konkurrentin – one of the first love stories about two women on German TV which I embodied with Charlotte Schwab. I still receive letters about it today,” explains Ann-Kathrin Kramer. As can be seen from this list, the actress’ roles are each rather different from one another. From a nun to a police inspector or a concerned mother, comedies are as much a part of her portfolio as dramas or thrillers. “One always says that the script is the most important factor. And what should I say… it’s exactly like that! I don’t decide according to ‘I haven’t played anything like this yet, that’s why I will do it now’. I find it much more important to see whether a character comes alive during the reading process. Then, I’m interested,” the actress says.
After having been a staple of the German film industry for such a long time, we wanted to know how it has changed over the years. Ann-Kathrin Kramer says: “The film industry is probably like most other working worlds. Time and leisure increasingly become luxury goods. Money is tight and people are expected to work more and in a more complex matter in less time. To really develop a scene, to test it and maybe also experience one of these rare moments in which something happens that actors call ‘authenticity’, becomes rarer. But what is really great, for example, is the technical development. Gone are the days in which two hours of light conversion processes were not unusual. I really don’t miss that.”
“‘Home’ is also a synonym for retreat”
Having lived in Munich and New York amongst other places, Ann-Kathrin Kramer has now found her home in the tranquil and relaxed Wuppertal. Here, she currently lives with her husband Harald Krassnitzer. “I left home at a very young age and since then, I have always somehow been on the move. Generally, filming never really takes place where you live, this seems to be a secret inevitability of the profession. Except maybe in Berlin, but that was never really an option as place of residence for us. For me, ‘home’ is also a synonym for retreat, a lack of events. There, I can escape the constant attention that we all have to deal with. And in the morning, I also don’t have to ask myself whether I’m dressed appropriately to go to the bakery,” Ann-Kathrin Kramer smiles.
Besides enjoying the relaxing life in Wuppertal, Ann-Kathrin Kramer likes to fight for great causes in her spare time. For example, together with her husband, she advocates the work of ‘Dunkelziffer’ – an association that works towards encouraging discussion around the issues of child abuse. The actress says: “The removal of taboos about this topic is immensely important. Society has to be sensitised because this makes things harder for the perpetrators. Everyone needs to know that it exists and in fact, that it exists everywhere. In all social classes! Educational work and dealing with this issue unfortunately becomes increasingly important as the number of assaults grows steadily and this also includes offenses that are unimaginable in their brutality.”
On watching Doris Day movies and the future
If you want to see Ann-Kathrin Kramer in action, don’t despair as she has a couple of new projects coming up in 2018. For example, she has just filmed a comedy in Boston (Familie auf Bewährung) which will be shown on ZDF in the new year. “Furthermore, I love to dedicate time to my second passion – writing,” the actress smiles. Having published two childrens’ books called Mathilda – Das Mädchen aus dem Haus ohne Fenster, Kramer is also known for writing scripts, which normally end up being filmed. She adds: “At the moment, I am at the heart of a story development once again, but this one has to mature a bit longer still.”
Speaking of the new year and new projects, we also wanted to know whether certain traditions for Christmas and New Year’s Eve exist in the Kramer-Krassnitzer household. “At ours, tradition is that nothing is traditional. As we are always really attached to our Christmas rituals and the annual return of these, we allow ourselves a ‘freestyle New Year’s Eve’. It will probably be somewhere in between driving to the ocean or watching Doris Day films at home.” And what other dreams and wishes does Ann-Kathrin Kramer still have after having achieved so much already? She says: “I would love to play something similar to the police woman Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley. It is a British crime series which really impressed me.” “Apart from that, dreaming and wishing fortunately never stops; that’s the nature of it. Dreams are the fuel that constantly keeps you in motion, that helps to formulate wishes and to achieve goals. I will probably have to wish for a bit longer however, because the fact that I dream of a house by the sea is sufficiently well-known,” Kramer smiles.
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTO: THORSTEN WINGENFELDER