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Interview: Sebastian Urzendowsky • Actor

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The destabilising element


- In his role as Paul, the destabilising element of a bourgeois family microcosm, Urzendowsky has been compared to Terence Stamp in Theorem

Interview: Sebastian Urzendowsky • Actor

Already brought to public attention in Kai S. Pieck’s The Child I Never Was (2002), Sebastian Urzendowsky is heading the bill in Pingpong [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Matthias Luthardt
interview: Sebastian Urzendowsky
film profile
. In his role as Paul, the destabilising element of a bourgeois family microcosm, Urzendowsky has been compared to Terence Stamp in Theorem. The 21 year-old actor insists however that he has never seen the Pasolini film and admits to us his admiration for director François Ozon.

Cineuropa: What is it that attracted you to the script of Pingpong and how did you go about developing Paul’s character?
Sebastian Urzendowsky: I liked the script right away and the fact that the family was a centre of conflict in the film. There were very interesting silences as well. While there was a lot of dialogue at times, we felt that the things that were left unsaid were the most important and these are not necessarily obvious. Some things remain a little vague, but Matthias, the director, Marion [[Mitterhammer who plays Anna] and I all spoke a lot with each other in order to create an imaginary course for each of our characters. The moment the film begins, several things have already taken place, and all that leads to the events shown in the film.

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The friendship between Paul and his cousin, Robert, is a little ambiguous!
At the beginning they are not really friends. That happens later, in the tent, when Paul finally confides in Robert about his father’s suicide. It is an important scene insofar as all the characters, as individuals, are seeking an answer from each other, and Paul finds it at that point. This creates a link between them, which turns out to be important later, when they join forces against Anna.

Why, in your opinion, did Paul direct his anger towards the family dog, rather than Anna?
The dog is the character Anna likes the most. It’s a means of revenge, of course, but also a lesson. Killing the dog was sure to have an effect on his aunt, she would think about why Paul did it. But I’m not sure that he [Paul] is aware of this "lesson".

Paul has been compared to Terence Stamp in Theorem.
It’s flattering to be told that but neither Matthias nor I have seen this film. But now that everyone is talking about it, I want to go and see it.(laughs)

German cinema is gaining in popularity abroad. How is it is regarded in Germany?
Distributors still haven’t taken to national cinema. We think that if a film does well abroad, it may go down well in Germany. It was a little like this for Pingpong, which was presented at Cannes. As regards the public, I think people are becoming increasingly interested, especially those who know foreign cinema well and who are then interested in knowing more about German cinema. It’s almost a question of self-esteem. I felt that a little after having lived in France for a year.

Are you an amateur of French cinema? Would you like to work with French directors?
I’m a fan of French cinema and French culture in general. I like François Ozon a lot, especially Under the Sand, but I wouldn’t dare say I’d like to work with him. That seems so unreal to me.


international title: Pingpong
original title: Pingpong
country: Germany
sales agent: Media Luna New Films
year: 2006
directed by: Matthias Luthardt
screenplay: Meike Hauck, Matthias Luthardt
cast: Sebastian Urzendowsky, Marion Mitterhammer, Clemens Berg, Falk Rockstroh

main awards/selection

Cannes 2006 Critics' Week (selection)
SACD Prize (ex-aequo), OFAJ (Very) Young Critics Award
Karlovy Vary 2007 Czech Television Award – Independent Camera

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