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German actor, author, narrator, founder of a production company, director, family man and do-gooder; Steffen Groth is a true all-rounder. Due to his good looks, charming smile and sporty appearance, many believe he primarily plays the role of a smart ladies’ man. However, when we met up with him, he puts an end to these preconceptions.
Born in 1974 in West Berlin, Steffen Groth discovered his passion for acting quite early. “The idea struck me at the young age of nine and I stuck with it. At 16, I auditioned in front of one of my parent’s friends at the Kammerspiele Munich theatre. I must have delivered an incredibly embarrassing act,” he laughs.“I have played the death scene from Romeo and Juliet with a rolled-up blanket, while pretending to cry. But then he let me improvise and nevertheless evidenced me some sort of talent. He recommended me to finish school first and then attend drama school.” This is exactly what he did. While visiting the Ernst Busch Berlin School of Dramatic Arts, Groth started off with acting in theatre productions. His television debut followed in 1997 in the series Freunde wie wir. Since then, the charismatic actor starred in productions like Bobby (alongside the gorgeous Veronica Ferres), the iconic Sunday night murder series Tatort, movies like Alles aus Zucker! or Einmal Hans mit scharfer Sosse and in the famous television series Doctor’s Diary.
Freaky, strange and funny
Female fans especially like to see Steffen Groth as a heartthrob. However, he has a clear opinion to this: “I was offered to star in Rosamunde Pilcher 15 times but I constantly rejected, before I accepted it only once. I didn’t do it because of the story, but it paid the bills. Apart from that, I have always played freaky, strange and funny roles.” For example, in Doctor’s Diary he was known as an alcoholic fraudster who immured a guy in the cellar and almost had sex with an old lady. “I can remember how I was introduced to the series: I was drunk, half unconscious and floating on a lake in winter. These are simply things that actors are panting for because they are so absurd. I can account myself lucky that I have been used in such a diverse way.”
Having played in various theatre productions, television series and movies, Steffen Groth can also be heard on numerous audio books.“The medium isn’t important to me. Either it says something and is fun or it doesn’t say something,” he notes. “When reading for audio books, I don’t have pauses. The longest I read in one piece was 12 hours; that’s really hard work. You need to constantly concentrate.” Other talents of Steffen Groth comprise of various dialects, such as Bavarian or Saxon. When filming the movie Marry Me!, where he played a post-burnout ex-pilot, he entertained the whole set with this talent. “I suffer from dialect Tourettes where I jump from one dialect into the next. My Swabian ‘Gruess Gottle’ in the morning has definitely prevailed on set.”
“We need more compassion”
Steffen Groth has been a vegan for three years because of ethical reasons. “I like animals and they don’t need to be killed. There is this sentence: ‘when slaughterhouses would be made of glass, people would eat less meat’. We simply don’t know what we eat and that’s why we can. Furthermore, over 50 per cent of carbon monoxide emissions stem from the animal production industry. Another reason is that the manure contaminates rivers, the groundwater and soils. Being a vegan is my contribution to the world.” Having been a vegetarian for a while in the past, some of Steffen Groth’s friends opened a vegan supermarket. He laughs: “You could say that I have associated with the wrong people. They have convinced me that milk and eggs aren’t really ethical either.” Steffen Groth has always loved the taste of meat. As an enthusiastic cook, he therefore learned to imitate the taste with meat substitute products. “I love to deal with food and it’s important to me. The Dalai Lama once said that if we would be more concerned with food and cooking, this would be a better world.” Steffen Groth also commits to projects with CARE in Cambodia, Kosovo or in Germany. “Since the birth of my two children, the world situation interests me even more. I do believe that we have an ethical, human crisis. We should understand that the world is one community and that we all should have the right to a life worth living. This includes food, water and pleasure in life. But we constantly deprive others of this because of lacking compassion. We need more compassion and I believe that outlining problems, offering solutions and showing that we can help is a good start.”
Groth is planning to establish a production company in the near future and further contribute something positive to the world. “I’m in contact with CARE and we discuss projects at schools in Berlin or in India.” In the future he would like to train to be a mediator or even complete a university degree. But at the moment Groth is too busy, having recorded an exciting audio book thriller about the Congo and currently filming Der kleine Diktator, directed by Dani Levy, where he plays in the lead role alongside actress Katharina Schuettler. “Other roles that I would love to play are the one of a conductor as I have experienced it a lot with my dad who is a musician. Or maybe a marine biologist, as I love the ocean. But I could also see myself as an author, sitting on an island and simply writing.”
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF I PHOTOS: THOMAS & THOMAS