Actress Jasna Fritzi Bauer Talks Movies, Fashion and Leo DiCaprio


Photo courtesy of Florian Kolmer
“I’m curious to know how people in other countries that don’t speak German see the movie,” says the actress Jasna Fritzi Bauer regarding her latest film About a Girl. If Jasna has any concerns over whether the tone of the film will translate outside of Germany, she can rest assured. The ballsy comedy about a sassy fifteen-year-old who botches a suicide attempt and finds love is both clever and endearing. The Swiss actress, who grew up in Germany, is taking a break to chat about her work after a performance at the Burgtheater in Vienna, where she is currently acting in eight different plays.

Not yet well-known to English-speaking audiences, Jasna is a critically acclaimed actress in her homeland. At age fourteen, she began acting in a musical theatre program in Wiesbaden before beginning her studies at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin. In 2011, Jasna won the New Faces Award for her first starring role in the film Alive and Ticking in which she played a girl with Tourette’s Syndrome. Still a student at the time she was cast, Jasna was less fearful of carrying the film and more concerned about accurately portraying a person living with the neurological disorder. “I was really worried about how [the National Tourette’s Syndrome Association in Germany] would feel about the movie because it’s a really funny movie, a comedy. But they came to the premiere and were so cool about it. They were like, ‘Yeah!’”

Since then, Jasna’s built an impressive career, playing a wide range of roles and working alongside some of Germany’s esteemed talent, including Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld in the period drama *Barbara. Jasna admits the prospect of working with the legendary Hoss was nerve-wracking. “It was like meeting Julianne Moore or Natalie Portman,” she explains. Luckily for her, it was not a typical audition. She met with both Hoss and director Christian Petzold, and they talked for three hours. At the end of the meeting, Petzold asked the actresses to read one scene. 

“He closed his eyes and just listened. He wanted to see if the voices matched. And this was really nice because I never had an experience like this, where a director says, 'I want you, but I have to check if the voices work together.'" In the film, a doctor (Hoss) is placed in a rural medical clinic as punishment in 1980’s East Germany. Jasna plays a labor camp prisoner, desperate to escape. Despite the heavy material, working with Hoss, a fellow Ernst Busch alumna, was easy. “Nina is lovely.”

Photo courtesy of Florian Kolmer
It’s no surprise that at age twenty-six, Jasna continues to get offered a substantial amount of teenage roles. She looks young. Unlike her American counterparts, she’s not keen to play characters who are sometimes 10-12 years younger. It's not common for older people to play teenagers in Germany. “The imagination is different. The style is more arthouse, so they like actors to be real. It’s good for me, though, looking so young.” When About a Girl came along, however, Jasna couldn’t resist. “I needed to meet the director [Mark Monheim]." Jasna told Monheim that if her age didn’t bother him, or the fact that she could no longer understand the mentality of a teenager, she was in. Monheim assured her that if 30-somethings could play high school students on a successful show like Glee, they could surely do it. “He said we would figure it out together.”

Casting is not the only difference between Hollywood and the German movie industry. “I don’t feel different from male actors,” Jasna says. “Maybe because I don’t see if they get more offers than me. There are actors in general who are unemployed, but it’s like that everywhere, in every country. So, I can’t tell the difference.” And when it comes to aging? “There is an age break for women between 30-40 because this is the time you change from being a girl to being a mother in theatre and in movies. It’s difficult, but it works. I have a friend who didn’t work when she was young, and now she’s in her 40s and shooting all the time.”

Hollywood actresses face unique pressures because their big budget films are shown on screens all over the world. After a certain age, women don’t work as much and the mounting anxiety can lead to cosmetic surgery. The obvious use of botox is noticed across cultures. “You can tell. It’s so sad. You don’t have the pressure here, the industry is smaller. Hollywood is a big business where you will be seen everywhere. In Germany, you are lucky if your movie goes to New York,” she jokes. “The paparazzi thing is not happening here. You can live your life. I don’t have to hide. I can’t imagine how it is for someone who has to live like that.” In Berlin, she adds, “you live and let live.”

Photo courtesy of Sophia Schwan
Speaking of people who do have to live under the blinding glare of celebrity, Jasna declares her love for Leonardo DiCaprio, considering him one of the best actors working today. “I’m so fucking mad he didn’t get an Oscar yet.” Actresses who inspire her include Meryl Streep and Kristen Stewart, whose recent turns in Clouds of Sils Maria and Still Alice have convinced her that Stewart is far more talented than her role in the Twilight series suggests. Also heavily influenced by the theatre actors she grew up watching in her hometown, Jasna says, “For me, they were heaven.”

Even though the fame game isn’t nearly as prevalent in Germany as it is in the States, there is still more than enough cachet to have landed the up-and-comer an invitation to personally view one of the world’s most coveted runways, Chanel's Paris-Salzburg Métiers d'Art show. After hobnobbing with the likes of Cara Delevingne, Binx Walton and the man himself, Karl Lagerfeld, fashion is fast becoming an interest for Jasna, who feels comfortable in both Nike and Valentino, and counts German label lala Berlin and designer Esther Perbandt among local favorites.

Outside of acting, Jasna's very much into music, mentioning chart toppers like Kanye, Beyonce, Rihanna and Taylor Swift among the many artists she enjoys. Having sung her whole life, and originally anticipating a career as a musical theatre actress, a lack of dancing potential curtailed her youthful aspirations. Except for German Schlager music, Jasna listens to tunes from all over the world and especially enjoys singer-songwriters Sophie Hunger and Yasmine Hamdan. (Jasna also happens to love Scandinavian television and highly recommended the creepy Swedish-Danish series The Bridge.)

This coming June, after completing her work with Burgtheater, Jasna will act in two films, one of which is an adaptation of the bestseller by Helene Hegemann, Axolotl Roadkill. Will we get to see her perform in English soon? Jasna is excited for the “chance to be part of a film in another country,” expanding her career to include English-language films. International success is on the horizon for the accomplished young thespian. The future burns bright for Jasna Fritzi Bauer.

*Barbara is streaming on Netflix


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