Bernhard Bettermann: “UNCERTAINTY, RISK AND ADVENTURE ARE PART OF MY DNA”
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF I PHOTO: CHRISTIAN KAUFMANN
Discover Germany, Austria & Switzerland met up with actor Bernhard Bettermann to talk about his role in the popular TV series In Aller Freundschaft, his love for Switzerland, his future goals and much more.
DISCOVER GERMANY: You were born in France, have grown up in Germany and currently live in Switzerland. How do your roots coin your life today?
BERNHARD BETTERMANN: My French roots only shape me to the extent that one day I really want to live in Paris for a few months. The affinity for the language is there, but it takes me a few days to get used to it and I’m having trouble getting started. I’m German, Cologne has shaped me, Switzerland is my adopted home. I’m a big friend of the Swiss understanding of democracy and would wish that political co-determination, and a trusting relationship with politics in general, would also spread to the rest of Europe. At the end of my days, I would like to be a proud European. I will do whatever I can to contribute.
DISCOVER GERMANY: What does the term ‘home’ mean to you? Why did you choose Switzerland?
BB: I came to Switzerland through my training as an actor and have struck down artistic roots here, done a lot of theatre. With my wife at the time, Sabina Schneebeli, I brought two lovely men into the world, and being so close to them is a key reason for being connected to Switzerland. There is a lot to discover in this small country and the world of art in particular, in interaction with business and politics, is diverse and lively. I’m also a nature boy and Switzerland has something extraordinary to offer in that respect. The proximity to Lake Zurich makes me happy every day.
DISCOVER GERMANY: Your acting career started in the theatre. How is the world of theatre different from the world of TV? Are you more drawn to one of the two worlds?
BB:I like to compare the two disciplines of acting to the world of sports. Theatre is a marathon, filming is a short-distance sport. This mainly relates to the time I have available to develop the role and the length of the engagement. If I had to decide, which luckily I don’t have to, I would choose the theatre. It deals even more intensively with the content of the story to be told and I have greater responsibility. As an artist, I have more design options on stage. And a theatre hall is simply a magical place.
DISCOVER GERMANY: Is acting your dream job or has there ever been another?
BB: Acting was and is my dream job. I also don’t think that without this passion and conviction it is possible to lead a fulfilling life as an actor. There is too much resistance in this profession that needs to be overcome and endured. The key words here are financial insecurity, the unsteady rhythm, constant criticism and uncertainty, whether from outside or inside, and the difficult compatibility of family and career. Success only protects to a limited extent, it is a fleeting companion. Personally, I derive my satisfaction from the constant growth that goes hand in hand with every acting task that is mastered. The route is the goal. A few of these hackneyed phrases have their merits.
DISCOVER GERMANY: How do you prepare for the different roles? Are there certain rituals that you like to include?
BB: Starting with the training, I learn new things and then rituals and techniques develop organically. I don’t have a notebook on how I approach the next role. Starting with the acting challenge, directing, colleagues and working conditions; each task is very unique. I love learning about it. And that has to be noted here, too – my acting life doesn’t take me from one big role to the next. I haven’t had this great gift so far, but I’m not at the end of my career yet. Hopefully it will accompany me until my earthly farewell.
DISCOVER GERMANY: You play one of the main roles in In Aller Freundschaft. What makes this series so special for you?
BB: The overall package is right. On the one hand, the world of medicine offers an enormous number of stories, we are all confronted with them sooner or later– each of us has been a patient at some point. On the other hand, an artistic team has come together in Leipzig that functions like a good ensemble. Special positions and vanity have no place and the implementation of the respective story is in the foreground. And the immense popularity that IAF enjoys among TV viewers, incidentally also in the industry, does the rest to make people feel comfortable in this workplace.
DISCOVER GERMANY: You now want to be more involved in international streaming formats. What is so fascinating about this new format?
BB: The main reason I want to get to know other formats is because I want to grow. In addition, I find our society as a whole to be too anxious. Existential worries don’t leave me cold either, but I don’t want to be subjugated by them. Fear of loss, especially of a material nature, should not be allowed to rule my life. And such a series is like a golden cage. You’re cared for, a valuable member of a well-oiled machine, but it’s also a cage. And I didn’t choose this job to be safe and protected through life. Uncertainty, risk and adventure are part of my DNA. I’m an Aquarius after all!
DISCOVER GERMANY: What else can we look forward to from you in 2023? Are there already exciting projects that you can talk about?
BB: I was with IAF for 17 years. This year, I want to reposition myself and orientate myself. The streaming services haven’t discovered me yet, but this almost unemployed time is also important – the ‘emptiness’ has to be endured. Everything has its time, impatience has to be braved. But after 37 years of almost continuous employment, that’s good.
DISCOVER GERMANY: Wishes and dreams for the future?
BB: Private happiness. Inner peace. Loved ones by my side. Keep going.
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