Playing the lead role in SAT.1’s famous series Edel & Starck was her major breakthrough. For 25 years, the theatre-trained actress has appeared in many high-profile TV productions, such as Die Eifelpraxis, Tatort and Im Alleingang, in feature films and on stage. Of course, we speak of none other than charming actress Rebecca Immanuel. She spoke to Discover Germany about her current projects, why she took a break after Edel & Starck, her long-term acting partner Christoph M. Ohrt and the current state of the German film industry.
Born in 1970, Rebecca grew up in Hamburg and currently lives with her family in Berlin. She came to Berlin to study at the renowned acting school Ernst Busch and decided to stay. She smiles: “In my heart, I will always be North German though: straightforward, always outside regardless of the weather, with a passion for liquorice. I have lived abroad but Germany is my home. I love its culture, the profoundness, the reliability and efficiency, the aspiration for understanding things and the wish for sustainability. But I also value seemingly profane details like our tasty bread.”
‘Doors always opened by themselves’
Early on Rebecca knew that she wanted to become an actress. She recalls: “Even though I was – and still am – really interested in medicine, I discovered my acting talent at the tender age of 12. It simply fascinated me how I was able to touch people of all ages through acting and singing. The doors always opened by themselves, I only had to walk through them. How wonderful is it that I’m currently able to play in the medical field again [laughs]?”
She is of course talking about her latest lead role in Die Eifelpraxis, a successful TV series about a district nurse on ARD. It is not just another role for Rebecca as it was especially written for her. The actress explains her character’s appeal: “The series’ unique selling point is its authenticity, its warm-heartedness and its conviction that things will turn out for the better. For the first time, we are experiencing a certain type of woman in the front row that is competent, as well as warm, without seeming weak or naïve. A woman with integrity to whom values matter. In a world, where an increasing decline of values can be observed, we desperately need those qualities. I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of being able to walk through everyday life as relaxed, smart and calm as Vera [laughs].”
The big breakthrough
From 2002 to 2005, Rebecca played Sandra Starck in one of Germany’s most successful TV series to date: Edel & Starck. From that point on, she became a household name across Germany and Austria. “To this day, I can remember every detail [about the audition]; who sat next to me during makeup, what the weather was like and so on. By the way, I have kept the blouse that I bought for the borrowed costume – as a talisman. We had a number of callbacks. The first and last audition were together with Christoph M. Ohrt. And that was the only constellation in which magic was created in front of the camera, even though Felix Edel was supposed to be ten years younger and Sandra Starck was meant to be blonde,” Rebecca smiles.
What followed were years of exciting episodes and film work. Rebecca says: “During my time at Edel & Starck, I was able to acquire unbelievably profound experience in acting in a short time. I was able to act alongside the best actors and to tell the most beautiful stories – for an entire 52 episodes. That was like winning the lottery! And, of course, we all were really happy about the public recognition in the form of appreciation and TV awards. It was an extraordinary time,” says Rebecca. Those who miss the good old days of Edel & Starck, need not despair. After all, at the beginning of the year, Rebecca and Christoph M. Ohrt starred together in a new film, Die Hochzeitsverplaner.
We wanted to understand the appeal of working with Ohrt. “It’s simply a great match, maybe it’s our common, North German, dry, humorous heritage. He was my mentor and I was an equally temperamental challenge to him. Our cooperation is characterised by respect, humour and sympathy – a rich mix for the daily work routine,” she smiles. Can we look forward to a new series of Edel & Starck? “We both wouldn’t object that idea – on the contrary. But only SAT.1 can answer this question.”
‘Fame is a blessing and a curse’
After the success of Edel & Starck, Rebecca Immanuel slowed down a bit and took a break to concentrate on different things. The reason for this was the sudden death of her PR agent. Rebecca recalls: “She died totally unexpected, much too young and it was a shock for me. I asked myself: what does life boil down to? What’s the deeper meaning? Because I also didn’t have a follow-up project, I was able to find answers to these questions and fulfilled all those desires that I had on the side. I travelled the world, lived abroad, learned Italian, studied handicrafts, learned how to play an instrument, walked the Way of St. James and came back home fulfilled and satisfied. Today, I live more consciously and mindfully.”
For Rebecca, this also includes consciously influencing the world and her surroundings through her fame. “After all, being a public figure is a blessing and a curse. As soon as you leave the house, you’re a public figure and given special attention. That’s not always easy, especially when you want to be alone or need to go grocery shopping when having a flu. However, the advantage is that you are heard very quickly and are thus able to champion causes that support the common good. Furthermore, we meet decision-makers on all levels at public events and thus, can connect money with visions. For me, this is fame’s secret purpose,” Rebecca explains.
Having been a part of the German film industry for so long, we asked Rebecca what has changed over the years. She says: “Just like in any other profession, one has to do more in a shorter amount of time. The ‘golden years’ of filmmaking are over, overtime is par for the course now. A positive development is the freedom we have to work across genres. In the past, once you were pigeonholed, you couldn’t get away from that. Today, one can switch more easily between Tatort and [Rosamunde] Pilcher, stage and film. In addition, new technologies enable incredible effects that are very beneficial for the film genre.”
Those who want to see Rebecca on screen are in for a treat, as she will be filming new episodes until 2019. She will film five more episodes as empathetic Vera Mundt in Die Eifelpraxis for ARD and will also play the counterpart of bossy Dr. Fendrich for the seventh time in Der Bergdoktor on ZDF.
Talking about dreams
Profession wise, which role is she dreaming of? “Being raised bilingually I would love to play in an international, English-speaking co-production about historical matters. The role of a quiet heroine would be exciting.” She adds: “But contributing to a more peaceful environment for future generations would be the culmination of my life’s work.”
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTO: VANESSA COWLING