salto.bz: You recently took part in the Cannes Festival with the film “Große Freiheit”, and for the role of Mario in the film “Hochwald” there was the Austrian film award for the best male leading role. All in all, it’s going pretty well professionally, isn’t it?
Thomas Prenn: Yes, I also think that things are not going badly. Unfortunately, the problem with my job is that you like to believe that things should always go better. I try to guard against this feeling. From dissatisfaction. And with envy.
Do you mean that other actors are envious of your success?
Not just related to me, also in general. You somehow notice that, yes. Maybe you are more susceptible to such things because you are constantly in this Bubble has to do with the people in the industry. That’s why I always enjoy coming here, fleeing to Dobbiaco. Especially in summer.
I play a lovely role that has something innocent about it, it floats.
What’s up now? Netflix? Crime scene? Movie theater? Theatre?
Until June I have been in Vienna for the movie Under the skin of the city participated, where I was allowed to play a leading role again. The film tells of the risk of falling in love – you can take off and float, but you can also fall. The film will tell itself like a fairy tale. Are there too Verena Altenberger (CoR Affection in the Anyone both Salzburg Festival 2021) and also Margarethe Tiesel, the many from the movie Paradise love from Ulrich Seidl will be known. It was a wonderful shoot, based on a fine script. I play a lovely role that has something innocent about it, it floats.
You can convey states of suspension just as well as depressive restlessness. Where does this ability to play complex and extreme characters, determined and with sensitivity, come from?
I think it comes from looking and observing, which I like to do. I did my training at the drama school, but there you mainly learn the craft and get clarity – things that are of course important. But this floating, this unclear, this ambivalence in me probably also comes from the time when I went to Berlin at the age of 19. I hardly knew anyone and went to the movies a lot by myself. That was very important to me and I just wanted to watch a lot of films.
Are there any key cinematic experiences that shape you to this day?
The film was definitely a key experience Lazzaro Felice from Alice Rohrwacher. I went out of the cinema and felt completely different. Likewise with the film Burning by the South Korean director Lee Chang-dong.
What was it that impressed you in these films? The acting or the plot?
Both. But of course I really enjoy watching the acting.
I have decided to take more time for myself or other nice things in the future.
In the film “Große Freiheit” you play the character Oskar. Is this name also a professional goal?
Ha, not really, as you’d like it to be. The world beyond the great sea is still unknown to me. I’ve never been to the US. Recently in Cannes but sat there Matt Damon in the cinema behind me. And I was in the premiere of Sean Penn. There’s something strange about that. They are like the heroes of my youth. There you meet these stars and also your youth.
And the theater? Are you still at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe?
I had my last theater performance in February 2019. Then came Corona. At the moment I don’t really have a fixed plan for acting at the theater.
Back to the film: in retrospect, which director’s notes have shaped you the most?
For the last film it was the director Chris Raiber, he is like a conductor and leads through the picture musically. Also on a tip from the director Evi Romen at High forest I can remember well. She said: “Say this sentence as if you were to say it as Thomas.”
And what are your memories of director Volker Schlöndorff and of the shooting of the film “Der namenlose Tag”?
It was a happy encounter. That was still during my training and at the same time my first role for German television. I only had four days of shooting this film, but Volker Schlöndorff was really very attentive and accommodating, told me about the past and took a lot of time.
Did he also tell you about the shooting of “Overnight in Tyrol”, a film he made in South Tyrol in the early 1970s?
No. I did not know that. We didn’t talk about that …
It is interesting that the leading actress in this film, his then wife Margarethe von Trotta, switched to directing during these years. Could you, too, imagine standing on the other side of the camera?
The thought was there, yes. But also the thought that this task would be far too big for me. But the desire to determine which path a film takes is there. Maybe something will happen at some point.
You are – as they say in South Tyrol – a “buggler”, that is not a workaholic yet, but at least a person who works a lot …
Sometimes yes. But I’m also good at doing nothing. In my industry, you really have to be careful that it doesn’t get too much. I have made up my mind to take more time for myself or other nice things in the future.
Do you compensate for the restless professional life as an actor in your home town of Dobbiaco?
The mountains of the Dolomites are actually the best backdrop. I like to be here, less in winter and more in summer, to climb, play table tennis with my little brother or just go to the forest.
In the high forests?
Yes, but not to pick mushrooms there. I don’t see them or don’t want to see them.
Let’s stay briefly in / near Hochwald. The role of Mario – they say – would have been written for you somehow. Is that correct?
Well, I don’t know for sure. What can be said on the other hand, it was a lot of work to play this role.
Is there anything typical of the Hochwald character Mario that can also be found in Thomas Prenn?
Coming home on holidays, and meeting old friends. You are thrown back into an original role that was a few years ago and has remained the same. One then has the impression that time has stood still. I enjoy that too.