What a show Valerie was

Valerie Niehaus on "Neue Ausfahrt Glück": "A special project from the heart"

The corona crisis is keeping the cultural industry firmly under control. Valerie Niehaus also noticed this while filming the new ZDF series "Next Exit Luck". In an interview, she reveals why the 46-year-old still considers it so essential to entertain people, especially now.

Valerie Niehaus has many faces: from her first steps in the former ARD daily "Verbotene Liebe" to satire formats such as "heute-show" (ZDF) and serious television films, the now 46-year-old has almost every one Genre served. In the new ZDF "Herzkino" series "next exit luck" (Sunday, February 28th and Sunday, March 7th, 8:15 pm) she plays a woman who, coming from a happy relationship, suddenly stands between two men . It is a love story, but one that is interwoven here and there with recent German history. How can the actress from Emsdetten, North Rhine-Westphalia, remember the time before and after the fall of the Wall? What makes the film so special compared to other stories from those years? And what about culture, but also about our society in the current times of crisis? Valerie Niehaus answers these questions in an interview.

prisma: In December you called for support for the "# SchutzSchenken-Campaign" of the UN refugee aid. Why is this organization so important to you?

Even more TV and streaming tips, celebrity interviews and attractive competitions: To kick off the weekend, we will send you our newsletter from the editorial team every Friday.

Valerie Niehaus: I was happy to take part in the campaign because I notice that, in view of our own current problems, we are losing sight of the problems in the world that existed before Corona. I think that it is good for your own empathy and humility to remember how big the world is and how big its problems are.

prisma: Empathy and dealing with your own problems is also of central importance in your most recent film "Next Exit Happiness". You embody a woman who is obviously having a dream marriage: Her husband Georg reacts in a noticeably relaxed manner even after a "slip" with ex-boyfriend Juri. But in real life you rarely find such a relationship, right?

Niehaus: I don't even know if that's so surprising at this moment. In reality, there is a very great fear on the part of Georg that he is Katharina's second choice. Despite his wonderful relationship, that doubt never really seems to have let go of him. However, I also found it unusual and when I read it for the first time I thought: Wow, he reacts really confidently!

prisma: How realistic do you estimate his reaction to be?

Niehaus: Personally, I would say that even in a long relationship, there must be the opportunity for freedom. Because at some point things will happen that hurt each other, cannot be prevented. But the greater the space between two people, the easier it is to survive such an incident. When we played the scene, I realized that Georg might not react so cautiously out of sovereignty, but out of deep fear and knowledge of the power that the relationship between Juri and Katharina has. As for Katharina, the situation with Yuri makes her sharpen her eyes on her marriage and her own life again. The more she sees how beautiful it actually is.

prisma: With the appearance of Juri, Katharina's life suddenly falls apart. Have you ever had a similar experience?

Niehaus: So triggered by an old friend, in the sense of a person, I don't know this feeling. However, you can also meet old acquaintances in terms of your own behavior. These can be depressive moments or unhealthy habits. What we are probably all familiar with is when fate suddenly strikes a different tune, for example when people die, become ill or become very lucky. But I don't see such changes very often.

prisma: Assuming you were friends with Katharina. How would you advise her to deal with the situation?

Niehaus (ponders): I would recommend that she let the thing happen to see what it's really about: Is it about the fact that the marriage with Georg is not right? Is it about Juri being the right one? Or is it about being alone and wanting to lead a completely different life? Because apart from a social perspective, sometimes you just need a little more time.

prisma: The film also takes little glimpses back into German history, more precisely to the months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. How do you remember that time?

Niehaus: I grew up in Fulda, near the zone border. So actually exactly where we shot the film. My parents had many friendships in Erfurt and the area. That's why I have childhood memories of the former GDR, but also friendships that have endured to this day. So I personally witnessed all of these changes. And that's exactly why the film was such a special project close to my heart.

prisma: What makes the film so special?

Niehaus: The film thematizes historical events in a normality that I usually miss. They are part of the German biography, but often come across with a very specific emphasis and are presented as particularly problematic. I am pleased that we are telling the story of people who grew up in this biography and lead a completely normal, healthy life. That is, the topic does play a role, but not the main one.

prisma: If you now think back to your youth: which of the two main characters can you understand better? Juri, who fled the GDR in search of freedom? Or Katharina, who changes her mind at the last moment?

Niehaus: I can understand both, because they both act for deep motives. Katharina says: "Here I understand the world, and that's why I stay here." Personally, I may have been looking for the bigger world. But that doesn't mean that you don't miss the clearer world in your life. It certainly wouldn't have hurt me if I hadn't left home at 17 and moved to the United States at 20. That was all great, but now as an adult I also know that I have given up a lot of things that have to do with belonging. And this is exactly what plays a role for Katharina.

prisma: The film was shot in summer 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. What were the conditions like on set so that scenes with close physical proximity were possible despite everything?

Niehaus: We were constantly tested. In the morning we had to report to the health officer, who asked about any symptoms and measured a fever. In addition, the team behind the camera wore a mask throughout. We also took special care to maintain any form of clearance or ventilation that was possible. Our lunch breaks took place outside, and we didn't have the usual catering as usual. In short, we did everything we could.

prisma: How did you perceive these restrictions?

Niehaus: The conditions are of course significantly different from those under which we have worked so far. But as filmmakers we are used to making good films out of very uncomfortable situations. That's why after a while, when we had understood everything, it actually went by itself.

prisma: In the pandemic, cinemas and theaters are also closed for the second time. How big is your concern that this will change the industry in the long term?

Niehaus: I'm afraid that many smaller cinemas will not survive the crisis. The cinema lives from entrance fees, but it also lives from the people and the atmosphere and cannot be replaced by online offers. The cinema experience and going to the theater have something to do with conversation, shared experiences and contact. You start a conversation about what you see there. And this culture that is in there can - and that would be my favorite - we are so lacking that we finally and lastingly understand how important it is for us. It's not just about distraction, it's also about personality development. The treated fabrics are taken from life and reflect the world to us. In other words: culture contributes to the fact that we can perceive others empathetically. On the other hand, it would be very stupid if we claim that we don't need that. And not only because my job is attached to it, but because I would feel that it is an absolute step backwards in humanity.

prisma: In addition to television films such as "next exit luck", you have been an integral part of comedy and satire formats such as "heute show" on ZDF for several years. How important is such a conversation especially in times of crisis?

Niehaus: Personally, I can endure life and crises much better with a sense of humor. In fact, I can't remember any hospitalization or separation situation in which it didn't help to get a humorous look at it soon. At the moment, of course, we are all being touched by the entertainment industry, and that is exactly what we need! Personally, I haven't really laughed at anything in a long time. And if that happens through a good joke on TV, then it's just relaxing. As for the crisis, I would say that the most important thing is to see that you are not alone. This applies to the world crisis as well as to any small personal crises. Of course, the emotions we see on TV are hugely helpful. When we see that others have the same problems and make the same mistakes, that brings us closer together at best.

prisma: Finally, one more question about the beginning of your career: In the mid-1990s you became known through the ARD soap opera "Verbotene Liebe". The format was recently reissued under the title "Verbotene Liebe - Next Generation" by the RTL streaming service TVNOW. Have you ever looked inside?

Niehaus: No, I only saw the posters and read that my dear colleague Heinz Hönig, with whom I have already done a lot together, is playing. And that's why I would say: If Heinz plays along, that's usually good.

Source: teleschau - der mediendienst GmbH