(Photo by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images for GQ)
“I came to the conclusion that probably my answers are influenced on what I’m thinking about right now,” says The Zookeeper’s Wife actor Daniel Brühl regarding his Five Favorite Films. “So maybe in a couple of weeks it would be five different films.” Brühl, who also is known for roles in The Bourne Ultimatum, Captain America: Civil War, and Inglourious Basterds, was influenced by current events in Europe while making his picks. “I’ve been talking about Europe so much recently with Europe falling apart: Brexit, all this political discussion.” You can see the complete list here:
Starting chronologically, the oldest one, let’s say, would be To Be or Not to Be — Lubitsch — which to me is a perfect comedy. A flawless comedy with incredible wit and pace and rhythm, and a sense of humor that unfortunately disappeared in Germany, and all these wonderful directors like Lubitsch and Billy Wilder and — God knows — Fritz Lang, and everybody else left. This is such a wonderful film [about] fooling the Nazis — it’s just one of my favorites, and I think I’ve seen it probably more than 20 times. Each time I burst out in laughter, and I’m impressed by it.
Then the films that made me want to become an actor were films that were recommended by my father when I was 16, and I got my first VHS player, and they were very often these French films, Italian films in the ’60s and ’70s, and one of the films that impressed me the most was Rocco and His Brothers. Neo-realism — Rocco and His Brothers with Alain Delon, which is great because it’s told in different chapters. I think five chapters. Telling the story of each of these brothers, of this poor southern Italian family coming to Milan trying to begin a new life, and the authenticity of that neo-realistic Italian filmmaking, is very impressive. Also the drama, the way it is told, and big family issues of rivalry and jealousy and love and hatred are told in a magnificent and very moving way, and with a wonderful young Alain Delon playing Rocco.
Another film with Alain Delon. It’s interesting — probably he was my favorite actor when I was 16, and then I was a bit disappointed of how he changed when he became older. I guess also politically, but that doesn’t matter. As a young man, he played some very enigmatic and wonderful roles. Another favorite film of mine … It’s a genre film, Le Samourai, by Melville. It’s an incredibly cool gangster film. Just the opening, I think, is 20 minutes where not a word is spoken and you always see Alain Delon with his hat and his trench coat. It is just an incredibly stylish and aesthetically wonderfully shot genre gangster film. In German, it’s the Ice Cold Angel, but the Germans always have these funny titles.
Because I’m half Spanish, I want to add a Spanish film, which I think is a film from the ’70s which is called Raise Ravens — I think was the English title. Cria Cuervos, with Geraldine Chaplin. It’s a film by Carlos Saura, a famous Spanish filmmaker. This is a very peculiar film because it’s a ghost story. It’s a young girl [played by Ana Torrent who is fantasizing. You are in the head of a girl the whole time, and it deals with child visions. Nightmares. It’s a very spooky film, but it also reflects very well Spain at the time and of mysteries within families, and mysteries that go on from one generation to the other. It’s a fascinating film that many people don’t know about. That’s why I want to point that one out as well.
Last but not least, I would just also mention a modern film. I was between Force Majure, this Swedish film, but then I thought, “Okay, let’s leave Europe. Let’s go to South America.” The Argentinian film Wild Tales was a film that I enjoyed a lot because it’s different episodes all dealing with revenge. One episode more clever and entertaining than the other. I think [it has] one of the funniest, surreal wedding scenes in film history. Probably my favorite wedding scene in a film ever. Very, very Latin American. Very brave. Muchos cojones. Incredibly smart and clever because revenge is told through so many different angles. Wonderful performances with the lovely Ricardo Darin, who is one of my favorite actors. Leonardo Sbaraglia — another wonderful Argentinian actor. A very powerful, fresh and wonderful film.
Kerr Lordygan for Rotten Tomatoes: You play a Nazi in The Zookeeper’s Wife, but it’s not the first time you’ve played one.
Daniel Brühl: Yeah, I know. We Germans always have that problem. That’s why I was a bit reluctant at first, but then there was something in that story that interested me in my character because I am playing this guy who is a scientist as well that was obsessed by the crazy idea of recreating a Germanic forest and of recreating, re-breeding extinct animals. It’s such a crazy, surreal, stupid idea that the Nazis had. I found it fascinating that there was that man who was seriously convinced to achieve the goal, and so absolved by that Germanic Nazi ideology. I didn’t care about the uniform and playing a Nazi. It was more playing an obsessive, obsessed scientist.
The film deals with animals and the zoo. What I found interesting about my character is actually I’m playing a human being who is losing his human values throughout the story and ends up being a wounded, despicable beast. Sounds very dramatic [laughing].
RT: Sounds like it. And an important story to tell.
Daniel Brühl: Yeah. We had our premiere in Poland and the daughter of Antonina Zabinski, of Jessica Chastain‘s character, was present. The premiere was right where the ghetto was. It was so — for the Polish, especially for the Polish — it was a very important story to be told. It also reminded me, being in Warsaw, of what had happened there. That was quite an emotional moment.
The Zookeeper’s Wife opens on Friday, Mar. 31, 2017 in limited release.