Luna Wedler wants to tell bold stories — and her most recent project, the Christian Schwochow-directed Je Suis Karl, does just that. The film documents her character Maxi’s descent into the world of the contemporary far-right, a movement that looks considerably different than the comparable ones that came before it. For Wedler, the idea that someone could go from a seemingly non-political person to a member of a far-right movement presented a compelling narrative — and along with her other projects like the Instagram series Ich Bin Sophie Scholl, a social media retelling of the story of famed Nazi resistance fighter Sophie Scholl, it gave her the opportunity to tell a now well-known tale from a new perspective.
Let’s talk about Je Suis Karl. How are you in the lead up to a release on your projects? Do you get nervous, or do you just take it as it is?
No, I’m really nervous. I always have a crisis before a movie comes out, but I think that’s normal. It’s also a nice feeling, especially because I can really say I’m proud of this movie. It’s a really important movie for our time, and it’s really intense, but it’s a really good, strong movie that I’m excited to share with the world and hopefully to make a statement. I’m also excited because the movie, we shot it in 2019, and we couldn’t release it because of Corona, and we never saw the movie, like in the team and in the crew. So that’s a little bit sad, but we had a nice premiere and everything, so it’s nice that it’s coming out now, finally.
There have been a few German films in relatively recent history trying to explain how a far-right movement can come to power in Europe. What about Je Suis Karl’s story made it different to you? Did you think it was important to share a different perspective on the topic?
I think it’s a topic, a movement of young people that a lot of people, including me, didn’t know was happening right now. It’s about the ‘new right’ people. We are showing a totally different kind of Right, young people’s movement. It’s not like the old Nazis, where they’re skinheads and they wear Doc Martens and bomber jackets. These people are really young and smart, and they know how to talk. They know how to manipulate other people in a really nice way. They are really open; they love art, they have friends, they are gay… You come into this scene and what you see doesn’t match with the old picture of the old Nazi. It’s really this new, scary movement and dangerous movement all over Europe, not only in Germany.
How did you get into the character of Maxi and immerse yourself in this world of far-right?
I’m so lucky that I could work with Christian Schwochow. He’s just a genius, and he’s done a lot of movies about these topics, so we got a lot of books and documentaries… It was also shocking for me that I didn’t know anything about these topics. That was something, and then with Maxi — we are looking at a woman who lost everything. She lost her whole family.
I am sorry; every time I do an interview about this movie or about Maxi, I’m still emotional, because she’s very, very close to me. I’m just very close to her, and I understood her from the beginning. You just to have this empathy for such a young woman who’s actually really strong… but she’s just getting used. She’s lost, and the greedy use that. But I do think she’s a fighter, and I see her as a fighter.
How do you think working on Je Suis Karl influenced both your decision to do Ich Bin Sophie Scholl, and the final product itself?
I don’t really do political statements, because it’s like shooting yourself — everything you say, someone’s going to say it’s wrong or bad. My luck is that I can choose projects where my roles and my movies give my statement what I think about politics… Sophie Scholl is one of the most famous fighters in Germany. She’s a hero. And what I love about the Ich Bin Sophie Scholl Instagram series is that she is this hero, but she is also like, just a young woman living her life, you know? We show her as a young woman with problems, with hobbies, she goes dancing — it’s a little bit lighter and just to show her as a person and as a human being.
What would you say you learned from the experience of playing Maxi?
Maybe that we really have to talk to each other with respect. Also, don’t believe everything you read or you get told. Always ask yourself, ‘is that something that I agree with?’ I saw this in the pandemic. When a human being is lost and insecure and doesn’t know anymore what’s happening, and then there comes a person who says, ‘Oh, I can help you!’ And they give you some idea of a future, you’re going to stick to it, right? You’re going to stick to it and say, ‘okay, well, he’s given me safety. He’s here for me.’ This is also a question this movie asks people — how seducible are we? When and how does one start to be seduced, you know?
Besides your TV and film work, what have you been doing in your free time recently?
Obviously I love going to the cinema, and I love to go to the cinema alone. I hate it when someone is with me in the cinema. I’m always thinking like, ‘Ugh, he doesn’t get it,’ or you know — don’t eat popcorn, don’t make out, just watch the movie and be quiet. I really love going to the movies. I just watched Nomadland with Frances McDormand. It’s such a beautiful, beautiful movie and the cinematography is just wonderful. I also watched Drunk with Mads Mikkelson, which is also perfect and I had to get a drink after right away. So, cinema is something I really like to do… also, because I’m travelling so much, I just really have to see my friends and I have to see my family, so I’ve been just meeting with friends and seeing my family and yeah, just being in Zurich. I also started kickboxing, which is cool.
The last question is super simple: what are you looking forward to right now?
I just love life. I’m such a ‘living in the moment’ person, so it’s just… today. Just today. Whatever happens today, I’m looking forward to it.
Je Suis Karl is currently in cinemas and on streaming services.
photography. Tristan Rösler @ Shotview Artist Management
fashion. Camille Naomi Franke
talent. Luna Wedler
hair + make up. Kristin Belger @ Liganord using Chanel Beauty + Susanne Kaufmann
photography assistant. Max Zimmermann
fashion assistant. Emil Korn Brandt
words. Braden Bjella