A wonderful interview where Jay learns a lot about Daniel Bruhl
I have seen Daniel Bruhl in a few films. Most notably as the villain in Captain America Civil War. Recently he played a different villain in The Zookeeper’s Wife. It is an amazing story that takes place in one of the worst moments in history. I was able to interview him and here is what he told me about this film.
What got you interested in this movie?
Daniel Bruhl: Well first of all the story of the Zabinski’s that I knew about. This courageous Polish couple who saved the lives of so many people and were willing to risk everything was very inspiring. But then also I was fascinated to play the part of Heck. I didn’t know about this guy and was just fascinated by his obsession for science and for zoology. By this vast dream he had of creating a German genetic forest and breeding extinct animals. As a German I read a lot about this chapter in our history. But I am still keen to exploring new aspects and new stories. And learning about characters like this one that I didn’t know anything about. So that interested me.
What was your favorite part about getting to play this character?
Daniel Bruhl: Well the favorite probably, because it is not a character that I would have access to accuracy with. What was very joyful was the scene where he is taking all of the animals. It was quite something. I was impressed by the fact that nowadays a film like that was not shot with too much CGI but with real animals. I thought that very courageous of Niki Caro. To deal with these unpredictable creatures. I was very impressed with how Jessica dealt with it. She was extremely talented in coping with all these different animals. I was lucky to have some scenes with elephants or eagles or whatever. So that was my favorite part in the film.
What was the biggest challenge for you in playing this character?
Daniel Bruhl: Yeah, well that was what I mentioned before. I was interested in playing the part. Playing someone who starts off being a charming, smart scientist who is quite likable and is friends with the Polish couple. But then throughout the course of the story changes and is losing his human values. Because the film deals with the zoo and with animals it was interesting to play someone who is sort of becoming an animal himself. He is losing his humanity. At the very end of the film there are just blips of his humanity left. But actually you see a very desperate, fragile, despicable, unlikable man. To play that journey was interesting.
Did you use the book for inspiration for your character at all?
Daniel Bruhl: Well, the most interesting source was Lutz Heck’s own writing. He has written a couple of books about Zoology. So by that I could get into his mindset and try to understand a bit more about him. That I think was the most inspiring and interesting source of material that I had.
Have you had a chance to visit the Warsaw Zoo?
Daniel Bruhl: Yea, in Warsaw yes. I did go and visit it but only after we shot the film. We shot it in Prague. We couldn’t shoot it in Warsaw because Niki I think wasn’t able to find the cages which was still intact and accurate for the times, for the period. So we had to go to Prague to recreate it. But I went to Warsaw, to the zoo.
Why do you think people should go out and see this movie?
Daniel Bruhl: Well because it’s a deeply inspiring and moving story of this couple. Unfortunately, with these films people say ‘Oh it is another film about the Second World War’ and there have been so many, which is true. But I think that it is still a very current, relevant subject matter. If you look how the world is right now. Phenomenons like fascism are not extinct, in some ways they are rising again, also in Europe. So I think it is important to remind ourselves of our history, of where we are coming from. What happens in the world and in Europe. To learn about people who were willing to oppose and to be against it. Who didn’t look away and who did something against that and held up there humanistic values. I think that is deeply inspiring and important and a story worth telling.