Best known for his roles in Tödliche Gefühle, GZSZ, Sex and the City or Blood Ties, German actor Philipp Christopher recently celebrated his international breakthrough with a main role in the YouTube Premium series Origin. He speaks to Discover Germany about what makes the new series so special, his time in New York City and much more.
Why did you choose to become an actor?
P. Christopher: As an actor, you’ve got the privilege to make it your job to understand people. When you’re working on a role, there are no prejudices. It’s our task to fully understand them – with all their good and bad characteristics. You don’t only learn much about the role, but also about yourself in this process. You therefore grow with every character that you work on. At some point, a kind of ‘merging with the role’ happens and that is an incredibly strong feeling. You live a different life and understand it with all of its facets. There’s nothing more exciting for me.
You have lived in New York City for a couple of years and currently call Berlin your home. Why is Berlin your chosen home?
P. Christopher: I was born and raised in Berlin. My family lives here and I feel a close relationship with the city. It’s my home and the city offers everything you could think of. I will therefore always find my way back here; but on the other hand, I’ve always been the type of human that seeks out the new.
How did the time in New York shape you as an actor?
P. Christopher: Acting training in New York was the reason for me to fall in love with this profession. My training was based on ‘the method’ and I spent much time at the Actor’s Studio in New York. There, I gained an entirely different understanding of acting and have developed a fascination that continues until today. Obviously, the city itself shaped me too as it simply bombards you with so much inspiration and energy.
What tips do you have for new actors that want to go abroad?
P. Christopher: Times have changed a bit and you don’t have to be in Los Angeles or New York to work internationally. The entire industry has globalised through self-tapes. Additionally, Americans are much more open today when it comes to different heritages and even accents aren’t an obstacle anymore. If it’s about the training, I would always say: Yes! Get the world’s best training because training is important. The only condition is that you do it out of passion.
GZSZ, Sex and the City, Blood Ties – you have been part of many nationally and internationally successful series and cinema productions. Which role has stuck in your mind the most?
P. Christopher: I have to admit that the roles I play on stage are the ones that I remember the most and this probably is due to the longer rehearsal period. For a role in North of Providence which was performed at an off-Broadway theatre back then, I was able to intensively prepare for around three months. That’s a luxury that you rarely get during movie productions. I have gotten to know the role through and through, have lived and loved it.
You have celebrated your international breakthrough this year with the YouTube Premium series Origin. You got a role in the main cast, alongside Tom Felton, for example. What makes this series so special. What can viewers look forward to?
P. Christopher: Sci-Fi, action and a bit of horror combined with an international cast – this already makes Origin very attractive. I’ve really fallen in love with the stories and the ‘look’, which is unrivalled in the streaming or TV world. Paul W. Anderson has directed the first two episodes and has significantly shaped the series’ look and tone. The scripts were simply excellent. Viewers can also look forward to a Berlin of the future in the middle of the season.
You have lived in South Africa for six months with your wife and son for filming Origin. What did you learn there?
P. Christopher: South Africa is a fascinating country – not only because of its nature but also because of its history. Apartheid isn’t all that long ago and is still deeply ingrained in the heads of the people. It’s a country of extremes, an exhausting but peace-loving country. Me and my family have really enjoyed the time there. If a second season of Origin is on the cards, we would definitely go back too. It has been really important to me to really get to know the country which also included the obvious poverty. Through an acquaintance from Germany, we got to know Leonard from Community KidsPot who built a kindergarten in the township of Philippi which he now manages too. He’s a wonderful person and it was an honour to meet him and his family. When he showed us Philippi’s ‘interior’, it suddenly seemed like a bubble burst in my head because I was facing a different type of reality. We have tried to support Leonard’s organisation as much as possible since then.
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTO: KATJA KUHL