Born in 1981, Nora Waldstätten has already worked both nationally and internationally, in all kinds of productions and genres. Ahead of the release of the latest movie-length episode in the crime film series Die Toten vom Bodensee (The dead from Lake Constance) on ZDF in May, Discover Germany found out about her fascination with acting, her approach to the series and her hopes for the future.

What was your initial fascination and how does acting captivate you today?

N. Waldstätten: At six years old, I first stood on stage and was immediately excited by the magical world of the theatre. I thought I’d become a ballerina, but after a couple of years with the children’s ballet I was offered my first speaking part, I had a light bulb moment:I wanted
to become an actress. Until then I could only express myself with my body, but the entrance of language opened a new world for me. To date, I’m animated by the profession and the fact, that one can tell stories within a team and hopefully move people with it.

What characterises a project, you are interested in? What do you hope for in your directors?
N. Waldstätten: The script and the role I’m offered is obviously the basis. And when I notice, while reading, that the piece opens up mental and emotional realms, it’s already almost done for me. And when wonderful directors like Olivier Assayas or David Schalko direct, one can only be thankful. Both directors inhabit the ability, Josef Hader by the way, too, to create a uniquely creative atmosphere. They put huge trust in you and value each of your ideas and proposals. For me, that’s the ideal way of working as every person, the whole team, thrives and grows beyond expectations.

In May, the new episode of Die Toten vom Bodensee will be released. Describe your character, investigator Hannah Zeiler, and give us a peek into the story.

N. Waldstätten: The new episode revolves around a bride, who is found dead on her wedding day. Artfully draped, she lies in a cormorant reserve. Is that a first clue or was it a revenge murder? As a child, Hannah had a traumatic experience. Her mother died during a tragedy at sea and her father vanished. She survived and had to live with the breach. Her basic trust in life is broken, everything which was familiar is gone. The experience changed her into a very controlled person, relying on logic more than on feeling or even life. However, beneath all of this, there is a high sensibility and longing for connection. Through working with her colleague Oberländer she is more and more forced to open up and trust. And he is not disappointing her. She notices that she can rely on him and therefore on life, too. To play this careful development, this evermore opening human being, who is still constrained by her habits, is very thrilling work.

Hannah Zeiler has her very own dynamic. How do you portray the different traits?

N. Waldstätten: Her special dynamic for me is her fragmentation between trust and fear. Fear, to be disappointed of life and hurt. As an actress, my desire is to portray this inner struggle, let more and more light shine through the fragile wall and show her in the process of opening. Episode for episode, I’m trying to strip away parts of her armour.

Formerly, you were known as Nora von Waldstätten, but recently you got rid of the von, how come?

N. Waldstätten: I’ve wrangled with the vonfor a couple of years. At 19,I had the idea to take that alias, because I thought it had a beautiful sound. In the naiveite of my age I didn’t expect the additional impact of the name. Lately, I noticed more and more that it conjured wrong images and ideas, which have nothing to do with who and how I am or how I grew up.

In acting you’ve already achieved a lot. What are dreams, wishes and hopes, you have for the future?

N. Waldstätten: I still dream of learning to play guitar, of travelling with the Trans-Siberian railway from Novosibirsk to Vladivostok, of spending time in France and gourmandising through delicious restaurants while there. And I hope that we humans will be able to take better care of us, our fellow people and the world at large.

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