Til Schweiger filmed Sarah Kuttner's novel "Kurt", which is about the death of a child. In an interview, the actor explains how much the topic affects him and what he thinks about his upcoming 60th birthday.
By Alexander Neb
In "Dear Kurt" you play a father who loses his son in an accident and is in danger of drowning in pain. How much does it bother you privately as a father that one of your children could go ahead of you?
With the birth of each of my children I had two feelings: infinite happiness and love, but at the same time infinite fear! Since I have four children, I'm four times as afraid. And I am sure: I will carry this fear deep inside me until I have taken my last breath. Of course, that doesn't mean that I walk around every day with the feeling that a bad call could come at any moment - but I just can't turn off this primal fear in me.
How do you deal with grief?
I am a man who does not deal with his problems and worries with himself. I have two brothers who are the complete opposite and prefer to keep their feelings to themselves. In the moments when I wasn't feeling really well, I always tried to talk to my closest friends and confidants. That's always helped me the most.
Why is dying and death still such a big taboo subject in our society? Isn't it about time that we learned something from other cultures that remember the life of the deceased in a much less gloomy and cramped way?
Since I'm a big suppressor myself on this subject, you can't ask me that. I've only been to three funerals in my life: The first time at the age of twelve when a boy in my boxing club died in a moped accident. Then we boys sat at the funeral service and then almost just fooled around and laughed, which logically didn't go down particularly well. When I was 17, a member of my football club was stabbed to death and at the funeral I suddenly got so dizzy that I almost fell on my grave. My buddies were able to take me to the happiness hold on at the last second.
After that I said quietly to myself that I definitely didn't need it anymore and avoided every funeral. Until the beginning of 2021 my mother died. Of course I really wanted to be there – no matter how much it breaks my heart.
Have you made provisions in case of your untimely death?
I have already arranged everything and laid it down in a will. As a family, we try as often as possible not to fly separately, but to fly together. If the plane should crash in the worst case, then at least we will all be gone and then there will be no mourners outside of the family.
Do you live much more consciously every day than you did 20 or 30 years ago?
Of course, because I too am becoming more and more aware of my own finitude. At 20 you think you are immortal and that life is eternal. But with every year I get older, I feel like time is going by faster and faster. And I'm becoming more and more aware that I only have a certain amount of time left.
And the question of how long this span will be...
If we're lucky, we'll live to be 80 or older. With a lot of bad luck we get a brain tumor and cancer or become a victim of one accident or violent crime. Basically, it can be over from any day to the next. We all have to keep reminding ourselves of that. Especially since the impacts are getting closer to me too.
Your 60th birthday is coming up next year.
And that is an ambivalent and somehow weird feeling. Because I still feel just as mature or immature as I did when I was 20. Yes, I have more life experience today, certainly more self-confidence in many things and I know a lot more about myself and life than I used to. But in my way of thinking and looking at life, my love of life, naivety, happiness, I'm still the same as before. And it will remain so until I die.
And how do you realize that you're not 20 anymore?
My body keeps reminding me of this fact mercilessly: I have back pain, my knee hurts or I have a stiff neck. My body is breaking down too. That's life!
Are you planning a big party?
Definitely! It seems to me that the lavish party for my 50th was only yesterday. We celebrated it twice: The first in December for my actual birthday with around 150 guests was so well received that I still had the same party in the summer once again - with even more guests. That was so cool that I'm now considering celebrating my 60th birthday three times.
How much respect do you have for the new round number?
I admit: For me, 60 is a number that has it all and is definitely an announcement. What comforts me is the fact that I know a lot of people who, even at 80, still have such a zest for life and energy that I look to old age with far fewer worries.
What exactly inspires you in these mature people?
They tell me they are having the happiest time of their lives right now. Of course there is the awareness that the time left is always more limited. But these people have completely settled into themselves and therefore perfectly understand how to enjoy the here and now. A great example is my big idol Clint Eastwood. At 92, he is still fit and continues to make films.
At what stage of your life did you learn the most about yourself?
Unconsciously, I have definitely learned the most from my children. Being a dad of four just changes everything. At first I had a lot of respect for this new role. I used to think that I wasn't really an adult myself. How am I supposed to raise and raise a child? My consolation was that in an emergency, Mom could take care of everything.
How self-deprecating are you?
I've always been able to laugh a lot about myself, and I deeply dislike and suspect people who can't. A perfect example of this is Oliver Pocher: He likes to crack jokes about people - preferably those who are supposedly below him; but alas, he has to take it and gets headwind ... then he immediately starts to cry. I just don't like people like that. I'm very scatterbrained and rarely act stupid. In this respect, there are enough reasons to be able to laugh at myself. My friends and family do that enough anyway.