Most viewers know him as “Ulf” from “Stromberg” or “Hinnerk Feldmann” from “Nord Nord Mord”, but Oliver Wnuk does a lot more than you get on TV. Behind the scenes, the actor mainly works as a screenwriter. He even developed his very own film series for ARD called “Life is not a kindergarten”, in which he also appears as the main actor.
In an interview with this editorial team, Oliver Wnuk talks about the third “Life is not a kindergarten” film, which will be broadcast on ARD on January 27 at 8:15 p.m., what surprised you during the shooting and how he deals with conflict situations.
The West: Dear Mr. Wnuk, “Father’s Joy” is your third screenplay that you have written for the film series “Life is not a kindergarten”. What was particularly important for you to tell after the first and second film?
Oliver Wnuk: This time it’s more about the relationship between the father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and his son. So it’s about growing old with dignity, love in old age and poverty in old age. The film is also about the confused, quite turbulent and humorous family life of the Kleemann family. At the same time, the main character Freddy is overwhelmed, trying to please everyone: the heavily pregnant wife, the work colleague, the kindergarten parents, the mother-in-law and above all his father, for whom he is looking for a place in a Berlin retirement home , which turns out to be quite difficult.
You are the father of two children yourself and have therefore also had experience with kindergartens from the perspective of a parent. Did an anecdote from that time make it into the films?
I was lucky enough to be able to attend my own kindergarten in my hometown of Constance before the first part. The director who started there when I went to kindergarten is now retiring. So she’s been there for over 40 years and I was able to talk to her. That was very fruitful, both personally and professionally, and so of course some things flowed into the film series. But it’s not about the job as such, it’s about communication and authorization: How do I have to talk in order to achieve something or how can I reach people?
In addition to the interpersonal challenges, Freddy also faces a new environment in the film series. From sunny Constance we head to the gray capital. You too now live in Berlin. Is the comparison a hidden criticism of your adopted country?
No, I’m not complaining about Berlin, but of course it’s a different story. As a spectator, the imagery in the second film (“Umzugschaos”) in particular makes it clear what distinguishes these two cities from one another. Funnily enough, it was the same for the team. We had the last three days of shooting the second film in Constance in March and the team members were suddenly so different. They blossomed so much – because of the lake, because of the air, because of the atmosphere there.
In “Father’s Joy”, Freddy has to deal with several emotional issues at the same time – including his father who needs care and his heavily pregnant wife, who feels overwhelmed by the overall situation. Where do you get the inspiration for such emotional stories?
I invented these characters at some point. Of course, they are enriched by the fantastic actors and then, to be honest, they lead a bit of their own life in me. It’s always about the “how”, I’m not necessarily about the “what”. If it were about the “what” for me, I would write detective stories. It is important to me how people treat each other, what values they represent and where a discrepancy in values arises.
How do you deal with crises yourself?
My first value in my list of values is connection. If the connection snags, I can get very nervous. So you have to take care of yourself, but there is no exact panacea. Otherwise, structure is relatively important to me and being tidy. I’m someone who keeps multiple to-do lists in parallel and is disciplined. I’m already very structured and that gives you supposed security. Of course you can’t rely on it, because everything happens differently than you think anyway. But that’s right, otherwise it would be boring.
So you live according to the motto: “If you tidy your apartment, you also tidy your head”?
That’s right, or if you don’t have a clear head, it helps me to tidy up. That’s why I’m very tidy. (laughs)
“Life is not a kindergarten – Father’s Joy” will be broadcast on ARD on January 27 at 8:15 p.m.