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HomeNewsCinema: From Hopkins to Nicholson: He lends his voice to Hollywood stars

Cinema: From Hopkins to Nicholson: He lends his voice to Hollywood stars

Whether Anthony Hopkins, Jack Nicholson or Dustin Hoffman: Joachim Kerzel lends his voice to many character actors. He spent his youth in Augsburg.

Some utterances make you grin involuntarily – although they also sound deeply creepy. The listener is torn between these two poles when Joachim Kerzel is mostly in augsburg spent his youth speaking or reciting a line from one of his first plays. The voice actor sometimes sounds like one of his most profound and bloodthirsty speaking roles, the nightmare of many sleepless nights, the reason for so many nights of staying up – Hannibal Lecter. From one second to the next Kerzel is able to give his voice the constant subtle arrogance, the light singsong that characterizes the cannibal invented by US author Robert Harris and embodied by Anthony Hopkins. A feeling that spreads all the more when you can only hear Kerzel over the phone. Because then again and again nuances emerge from Lecter’s voice, as if he is winking at you with the corners of his mouth slightly drawn – and the next moment a knife rams into the back.

The voice actor Joachim Kerzel has Augsburg roots

Kerzel’s acting career definitely began in Augsburg – or as Kerzel says time and again: Datschiburg. Augsburg’s nickname is a word that the actor mainly uses when a car with an A on the license plate is driving through Berlin, which has been Kerzel’s home for decades. He was born in 1941 about 500 kilometers further south-east, in what is now the Polish city of Zabrze, in Deutsch Hindenburg. Five years later, his family fled to Bavarian Swabia with bags and bags. With his mother, father and his four significantly older siblings, the then six-year-old initially found accommodation in a house in a community in Ries, only to follow his father to Augsburg two years later. He got a job there as an authorized signatory at Zeuna Starker.

Anthony Hopkins received his first Oscar for the role of Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs”.

Photo: Alexandre Meneghini, dpa

“I look back fondly on my time in Augsburg,” says Kerzel. However, there is no trace of a dialect, it is rather something Northern German that colors its language. “At that time I tried to adapt a little, with the Swabian sh or the Bavarian rolled r,” Kerzel says, but also notes: “At home, standard German was spoken. For me, the Bavarian-Swabian dialect was neither half nor whole. ”The dialect was frowned upon by father and mother, who viewed themselves as middle-class.

As a child, the Kerzels lived on Beethovenstrasse, north of the old town, seven people, two rooms. “That was a catastrophe,” says her youngest child today, but childhood itself was beautiful. Meeting at Königsplatz, the Sunday mass in the parish church of St. Georg, where Kerzel was even an altar boy. “My parents wanted it that way, they were Catholic and conservative,” he recalls. On his first day of school he got lost in downtown Augsburg until passers-by helped him find his way back to the St. Georg elementary school.

Who is particularly fond of the voice actor Joachim Kerzel

One or the other feast also shaped Kerzel’s youth, he had danced on his mother’s nose at the time. Back then, at 14, after his father’s death. He had campaigned for the boy to learn a proper job. “Schlosser,” says Kerzel, “was just a bridge until I could become an actor.” During this time he often hung around with his friends, enjoyed life, came home at three at night, only to get up two hours later and to set off to his place of work in Göggingen by bike.

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At the age of 14 Kerzel also appeared for the first time as an amateur actor, at that time in the Basilica of St. Ulrich and Afra. This paved the way that Kerzel has been treading for 66 years: to one of the most renowned voice actors of his time. Since 1990 he has lent his voice to Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Hopper, Robert Wagner, Harvey Keitel, Jean Réno and, of course, Hopkins. “At first I just wanted to earn something besides acting,” says Kerzel, but at some point speaking became his main calling.

He was particularly fond of Harvey Keitel (including “From Dusk Till Dawn”) and Anthony Hopkins: He was “deeply in awe” of the latter, says the 79-year-old, who originally didn’t want to speak to the Welsh actor because he was himself saw unable to do so. The reason: “Behind every word there is a world, so much intelligence, so much subtlety”. At the beginning, not even Kerzel was intended as Hopkins’ German voice, but Hartmut Reck. The dubbed Hopkins still in the film “The Silence of the Lambs”, but died in 2001. Just a year before the second part of the Hannibal Lecter film series was released. Joachim Kerzel has now taken on Reck’s role – and continues to do so to this day. In 2020 he was awarded the German Acting Prize for this, among other things, an honor that is particularly important to him “because it is awarded by actors, i.e. colleagues”.

What still connects Joachim Kerzel with Augsburg

He deserves it, you can even tell on the phone. Kerzel spontaneously offers three variants of one and the same set. Six simple words that Hannibal Lecter speaks in the Schweigen-der-Lämmer prequel “Roter Drache” when his adversary comes on his trail: “I am only human Will”. Three times the same sentence, three times similar and yet very different. Unsolicited, Kerzel sends him a quiet, joyless laugh that sounds more like a threat. The reason for this is not that the common horror film fan knows for sure that Hannibal Lecter rams a knife into his opponent’s stomach in that very scene. Kerzel is much more likely to convey that depth in his voice, just as Hopkins is able to do.

He still has loose connections to Augsburg today. “I love this city,” says the actor, even though he was last here about 15 years ago. Because since a stroke about ten years ago, Kerzel has been dependent on a walking aid. The graves of some relatives are still in Augsburg, “as is my heart. Even if I found the city a bit narrow-minded at the time. ”Nevertheless, the 79-year-old was a regular guest at the Perlach Tower or the Augustusbrunnen in his fifties, ministered in St. Georg, and when he was just 14 he rode his bike over the woods to Munich – three courses , almost 130 kilometers and a crazy sore muscles.

Kerzel can still get it today, but more in the jaw if he has to lay down an orgy of laughter at first and then simulate a wine breakout the next. “Of course there is a technique, a craft that you have to learn,” explains Kerzel. “But a lot is identification, happiness.” One of his most successful roles was The Joker, played in 1989 by Jack Nicholson. “But the character was terrible,” says Kerzel in retrospect. “Really unsympathetic and uncomfortable, but brilliant” And that’s exactly how he spoke to him.

We want to know what you think: The Augsburger Allgemeine therefore works with the opinion research institute Civey. Read here what the representative surveys are all about and why you should register.



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