Kunzendorf in “House of Dreams”: “A lot of young people are cast”

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Nina Kunzendorf is known for numerous film and television productions, not least for her role as researcher Conny Mey in Frankfurt’s “Tatort”, which she retired in 2013. Since September 18, the 50-year-old can be seen on RTL+ in its own series “Das Haus der Traume”, which is about the founding of the Jonass department store in Berlin’s Torstraße 1 in the late 1920s.

Nina Kunzendorf talks to ntv.de about the appeal of this role, the pros and cons of aging as an actress and how she fares as a Berliner of choice in the capital.

ntv.de: How did you come to be part of the rather complex project “The House of Dreams”?

Nina Kunzendorf: On the one hand, I had already worked with the production company XFilme the year before, we recorded the series “Furia” together. And then there’s a close relationship with director Sherry Hormann, who I’ve also worked with in the past. One happier than the other. That must have been the beginning, because as an actress you rarely do it yourself. At that time there were not yet the scripts for all the episodes, but only the novel “Torstraße 1” in its entirety, which I left out. I thought that just confused me because the show kind of goes its own way.

What attracted you to the topic “Berlin, 1920s, credit department store”?

I was curious to shoot a historical story, I haven’t done that very often. And I liked the character Alice Grünberg. I don’t mean I liked her in general, but I found her challenging. I liked that.

What was it specifically, or what things did you not necessarily like about her?

I recently watched the episodes of the first season and I thought, “Oh, Alice has gotten a lot more melancholy than I thought.” But that was also something I liked; that the character has a certain heaviness, a melancholy that has to do with her story, with the loss of the child. On the surface, people like to associate the 1920s with Halligalli, everyone was partying and doing drugs. That was certainly part of that time. But all the people had just been through a world war, they were wounded, hungry and lost.

Have you also encountered inner resistance?

Alice is a very powerful character, but there are definitely a few things about her actions that I personally don’t recognize. For example, I would absolutely not tolerate a man by my side who has had a lover for years. But what is rather difficult is something very pragmatic, something technical. In a series you have to have a completely different breath while playing. Most recently I made a TV movie, very compact, in 40 days. I really enjoyed that. If you don’t play a big lead in a series and therefore have something to do every day, it is sometimes annoying because you are there for a day or two and then take a break.

As a native Berliner, before filming the series, what did you know about the history of Soho House today?

I’ve been in Berlin for ten or eleven years now and didn’t even know the part of our series. But I knew that the Nazis expropriated it at the time and that it used to be the headquarters of the SED.

There is not much to research about this time, as little is documented. Does it ultimately make it easier not to play a real historical figure, to have fewer guidelines when interpreting the role?

That certainly makes it easier. Although I played a doctor on “Charité” who was actually alive. But even then I got over it. I roughly knew the biography and worked my way around based on some character traits, but otherwise I found my own way. I have said from the beginning that I am not playing a historical character by adopting their way of speaking, of moving. Maybe just because I can’t. (laughs) I always feel like I’m not doing someone justice.

When you look at this city after ten or eleven years of living in Berlin, are you one of those newcomers who will be moving again soon, or have you found a home here?

I feel very comfortable here. I don’t know any other city in Germany. The alternative would probably be my hometown of Mannheim. But I’m not leaving here, I think it’s beautiful.

Alice Grünberg would certainly do things differently in today’s Berlin, perhaps really break free from the man who cheats on her. Much has changed in the role of women in the past century. Where, on the other hand, do you see a clear need for improvement?

Oh, in so many places! For example, I really can’t understand why men earn more than women for the same work. I think that’s incredible, it’s no different in my industry. In other sectors, however, this is certainly even more existential and blatant. I don’t understand why we haven’t made much more progress there. But I feel like there’s a lot going on right now.

Alice (Nina Kunzendorf), Arthur (Alexander Scheer), Ilsa (Valery Cheplanowa)

Alice (Nina Kunzendorf), Arthur (Alexander Scheer) and Ilsa (Valery Cheplanowa).

(Photo: RTL / Stefan Erhard)

Which has long been an issue in the film industry: actresses have always had a certain half-life. Many experienced a career break at the age of 40. Today, thanks to Netflix, Amazon and Co. the story is told differently and more is filmed. Do you think that this form of age discrimination will also end?

People always say that something is up, and I’m very sensitive to that. Maybe it’s my impatience and certainly my personal perspective that I don’t think it’s going fast enough. A lot of young people are being cast. There are also less good roles for men around 50. To be honest, I don’t understand it at all. I won’t pretend I’m a better actress today than I was 20 years ago, but I have a bigger fund to draw from. It should be a slaughter festival, telling stories for and about people over 40, 50 or older. In addition, it is also a lot closer to the age of the viewers. (laughs)

And it’s not just age, there are often many other clichés used in German films. I assume you have experienced that too?

There is still a lot to achieve. I think it’s high time we talked about more diversity. I just often feel that we have to start much further from the ground. The clichés, the prejudices, the fears, they are in so many lower realms. I remember how busy it was for years because I had short hair. A surprising discussion…

Asked is still quite tall and blond I take it?


Blonde maybe not, but there was and is a narrow idea of ​​femininity. My short hair was brittle, hard, manly… I kept asking myself what century we live in. Or that there is a dress in the trailer that has been picked out by all the taste directors – but the editor wants that because the viewer loves it when the character wears a dress.

Who is this viewer anyway? Or is it a spectator?

I always thought it was a man. I then imagined a man living in an anonymous high-rise, where the blinds are always closed. He already has a yellowish face and nicotine hands…

I see more of a woman there. Such a smooth one with 20 cats, …

… who is strapped to an armchair and has to watch German television from morning to night. (laughs)

Nicole Ankelmann spoke with Nina Kunzendorf

“The House of Dreams” can be seen on RTL+ since September 18.

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