Hannes Richter

An Interview With Ursula Strauss

Hannes Richter

Since her early childhood Ursula Strauss, who grew up in a small village in Lower Austria, dreamed of becoming an actress. Now, some years later she has turned this dream into reality. Strauss is now one of the most asked-for and successful actresses in Austria. Her movie Revanche was nominated for Best Foreign Picture at the Academy Awards in 2008 and most recently Ursula was given the Austrian Movie Award for her touching performance in the drama In Another Lifetime.

Besides her movie projects, Ursula enjoys huge success, even beyond the Austrian borders, with her crime TV-show Schnell Ermittelt.

For this issue of Austrian Information, Ursula Strauss met with Anja Mayer for an interview about the filming of In Another Lifetime and her future career goals.

In other interviews in the past you have mentioned that becoming an actress was your childhood dream. How did you succeed in making this dream a reality?

I just jumped in at the deep end and gave it a try. One of the biggest challenges, definitely, was to put my fears and insecurities behind me. I am really happy that I succeeded.

With your hectic schedule and all the different projects on your agenda, how do you manage to keep your balance? Where do you find the inner strength to tackle it all so well?

A considerable time of relaxation is crucial for me. This helps me to keep my balance. I also love spending valuable quality time with my family and friends. This is very important for me to unwind after days of shooting.

What convinced you to take on the role of Traudl Fasching in Vielleicht in einem anderen Leben”?

In the beginning, I was not entirely convinced about the screenplay. I had some doubts. A meeting with director Elisabeth Scharang, however, changed my mind. Her enthusiasm, intelligence and her vision of what the movie should be eventually convinced me that I was the right person for this project. In the end, I am thankful that I was part of this exciting journey.

How would you describe this character?

The character of Traudl is a hard-working and somewhat resentful woman, who has a very down-to-earth and moral understanding of life. In her belief, if someone is hungry they need to eat, no matter who they are. The mourning of the loss of her son and the tensions in hermarriagemake her hopeless and lost for words. However, the arrival of the Jews in the village has a great impact on her life and pulls her out of her lethargy.

Did you encounter any difficulty in playing the role of Traudl Fasching?

Not at all. I truly enjoyed working on this movie. I somehow felt this immediate connection to the character and so playing her was a very interesting experience. How did you prepare yourself for this role? The hard work and emotion I poured into this particular character is dedicated to my grandmother. The character was also heavily influenced by the loving memory of her.

How difficult is it for you to break away from such an emotional role at the end of each day of shooting?

Well, I think that is something that my job just requires. It is certainly a learning process but by now I know how to handle it. Therefore, it was not really difficult for me to let go of the character at the end of the day. In general, I believe that having a good sense of humor is very important for an actor. Acting is not something like psychotherapy. You benefit from each role rather than the opposite. When you are working as an actor you are very focused and conscious about what you are doing; you are in line with the story and in that way I think you are also protected.

How important was the element music for the storyline and the characters in this movie? I personally feel that the element of music for this film has the ability to break through the silence and the despair. It gives all of these otherwise hopeless characters something to hold onto. The music gives the story momentum and helps the people to stand up and combat their fears.

How was working with director Elisabeth Scharang and co-actor Johannes Krisch?

It was a true delight to work with both of them. Elisabeth is such a wonderful, intelligent woman. In her directorial work she always uses a very democratic approach and working with her was a truly intense experience. Johannes is an amazing co-actor. We were part of a very exciting journey together and I value the wonderful time we spent with each other.

What do you want audiences to take away from this film?

I really hope that it has a strong impact on the audiences. I want theme to be moved by the emotional journey the characters must go through.

In your opinion what is the significance of the Austrian movie industry internationally?

From my experience the Austrian movie industry is highly regarded and praised internationally. Unfortunately, most of the people in Austria do not realize that.

Is there any special project you would like to work on? A dream role perhaps?

I would like to work on a historic subject but I cannot say that I have a specific dream-role in mind.

What further career goals do you have?

In general I would like to work more on international projects. I think that shooting a movie in a foreign language would be a great experience.

Ursula Strauss was born on April 25, 1974 in Melk, Austria. Originally she planned on becoming a kindergarten teacher but later she chose acting to be her true passion. Being very active as an established stage actress, she was also the star in many successful Austrian movie productions. Her big breakthrough, however, came in 2008 with the Oscar-nominated Revanche. At the same time, she assumed the role of Angelika Schnell in the renowned and widely popular Austrian TV-show Schnell Ermittelt. This year she was given the Austrian Movie Award for her intense portrayal of Traudl Fasching in In Another Lifetime. So far she has received two Romys (an award given by the Austrian public) and is nominated for a third time this year.