We write the year 2034. In Berlin-Tegel, so Andres Veiel’s dystopian ARD drama “Ökozid”, the International Court of Justice meets. 31 countries in the global south have indicted Germany. Because of lack of help from nature, towards the climate. The prosecutor is Larissa Meybach, a kind of Luisa Neubauer of the near future. Friederike Becht, born in the Palatinate, became an actress in Berlin and lives in Bochum, is Larissa Meybach. Becht, Wildgruber Prize winner like Sandra Hüller and Franz Rogowski, was the Thekla in Peter Stein’s “Wallenstein”, Käthe Kruse in Franziska Buch’s biopic and the profiler in Philipp Kadelsbach’s Süskind series “Parfum”. In Veiel’s film, she always looks very strict. This is not just because she has to grill Angela Merkel in court. But she laughs a lot in conversation.
WORLD: If you put yourself in danger, you will unfortunately die in it, but doesn’t it get on your nerves to be questioned depending on your role as a doll building, fragrance or climate protection expert?
Friederike Becht: Actually, they’re not really bad topics … Of course I’m an actress and not a climate activist (or not yet). Still, it doesn’t get on my nerves because I see what I play as an enrichment for my own real world. Because a door always opens. And I – luckily for myself – can learn and understand something. Unfortunately, in the end it doesn’t go as deep as I sometimes would like. That would take more time.
WORLD: How did Larissa Meybach change your own real world?
Becht: Unlike Käthe Kruse, of course. I hope that Larissa Meybach does not completely leave me. Because since “Ökozid” I have been thinking more often about whether I actually drive the children to school and kindergarten or whether I shouldn’t put on their raincoats and we should take the bike. But I am – unfortunately – not consistent. I am more pragmatic. Unfortunately also more convenient.
WORLD: Besides pragmatism, what is the difference between them?
Becht: She is a lone wolf. She has a mission. And she has already used violence to achieve her goals. I would never do that.
WORLD: Did you have something Meybachesque about you as a child in the Palatinate?
Becht: I’ve always had a close relationship with nature. But an activist? Not at all. That means: When I was seven or eight years old, I moved through the village with my friends. And we played a game that was basically trash collecting. Disguised in stories and with fantasy, we fished plastic from the Erlenbach almost every day for a while.
WORLD: Andres Veiel could not have known that when he cast her for this Joan of Arc role.
Becht: There was no casting at all. Andres Veiel came to see me in Bochum to get me on board for “Ökozid”. He wanted me for “Ökozid” because he saw my commitment to the Amazon network Repam and Adveniat and said that I can put something between the lines, that for him I am Larissa Meybach.
WORLD: Placing something between the lines has probably never been more important than with “Ökozid”, because those were probably the most fact-rich texts you have ever had to learn.
Becht: In any case. That was the greatest concern of many of us. When you play situational texts, an argument in the household or something like that, it is often not so important how you express yourself. You can deviate a little from the text. It didn’t work here. It wasn’t a text that you learn a week before shooting. I’ve dealt with this more intensively than with others. It was something of my own to learn it. You have to be very clear about Larissa Meybach’s thoughts. To do this, you first have to understand it yourself and try to get the audience on board as Larissa Meybach wants to get the court on board. She doesn’t just say that. She wants to make a difference and achieve something. You have to know exactly how to say it. I even worked again with my speech teacher for this. I come from the Palatinate and sometimes have a couple of tints too much in the language. That is rather a hindrance in Larissa Meybach’s pleading.
WORLD: Andres Veiel is considered a meticulous researcher. Sometimes you can still hear the footnotes in his texts. What did you do to turn Larissa from text to human? Researched yourself?
Becht: That too. Above all, I actually met with nature conservationist Vera Sandel in Hamburg. I wanted to understand why Larissa Meybach does what she does. There are – well – certain differences between me and Larissa. I was able to ask Vera Sandel what I would have wanted to ask Larissa, when she felt that she wanted to do what she was doing. That enriched the figure and me too.
WORLD: Larissa Meybach faces Angela Merkel in Veiel’s trial and accuses her of failing to help nature. What would Friederike Becht say if she ran into Angela Merkel.
Becht: In dealing with Corona, we have just seen that Germany can listen to scientists. How good it is to have a natural scientist as chancellor who knows what an exponential growth in the number of infections means and what the consequences are if we do nothing to flatten the curve. That has worked very well so far. But it also has the knowledge, the possibilities and the responsibility to behave in exactly the same way towards climate change, which can no longer be denied. I would tell her that our democracy is strong enough to also draw the consequences when it comes to climate protection in order to flatten the curve there too.
WORLD: Speaking of Corona. There are supposed to be colleagues who are already thinking about an exit strategy if the theaters and cinemas turn out badly at the end of the lockdown. Do you have a?
Becht: No. I went to a disabled kindergarten for a voluntary year of social service. Otherwise I like to be where I am. I would still think of something if I couldn’t go on. I will not despair. And my life would still be worth if I stopped playing.