Bonn. The casting for the third season of the series Babylon Berlin started at noon on Saturday. The huge crowds brought traffic to a standstill and the casting for ‘newcomers’ was already closed at 1pm.
By 1pm 3000 people had already turned up to the casting. It is unlikely that the organisers had expected such a crowd. They were unable to accept any more people as the 3000 registration forms had already been distributed and filled in. The organisers came under criticism as some casting hopefuls waiting for hours in the long queue outside the Brückenforum did not get the message that admission had been stopped.
Gregor Weber and his colleagues from the casting agency Eick had expected a rush, but what happened on Saturday afternoon around the Brückenforum in Bonn-Beuel exceeded all expectations. Far more than 3000 film enthusiasts were already standing in front of the entrance from 8.30 am. to gain one of 500 extra roles in the third season of the successful series Babylon Berlin. It will be shot in February and March in the Rhineland.
Verena Lünso-Hens has at least overcome the first hurdle. At 12.30 pm she was on the Kennedy Bridge happily clutching a sheet of paper and looking down at the queue below her. By noon the queue had stretched to several kilometres. People of all ages and backgrounds were queuing up in their thousands outside the Brückenforum and under the bridge up to the station. The cars on Rheinaustraße and the neighbouring streets had to slow to walking speed.
Most expensive German TV series
“It is crazy”, says Lünso-Hens, who has come by train from Witten. Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich are her acting idols. “I’m really interested in the 1920’s,” she explains. The most expensive German television series to date featuring the Cologne-based detective commissioner Gereon Rath is set in Berlin in the late 1920s. For Lütse-Hens, it would be a real dream to travel back 100 years in time on the film set.
Like all the other lucky people who managed to gain admission to the Brückenforum, she filled out an application form. Clothes and shoe size, eye colour, tattoos, piercings, coloured hair, smoking habits - the film people want to know pretty much everything. With the number 1049 on her chest, she finally posed for a photo and is now included in the official casting files. "I'm not going to cut my hair until mid-February, as requested, and I'm also prepared to have a historic hairstyle," says Lütso-Hens, shaking her generous curls. But what she doesn't want is to shave her hair off completely.
Decisions made in Berlin
Director Tom Tykwer and his team will not decide who will take part in the series until later in Berlin. Dorothe Popovic is standing in the upper foyer of the Brückenforum in the middle of the turmoil. The 33-year-old is the second assistant director for X-Film’s production. She is already specifically looking for certain characters for small roles. "We want faces that are as authentic as possible," she explains. Crowd scenes take place in taverns, women's prisons and orphanages. "It sounds a bit stupid, but especially with the women, we are looking for those who are marked by life rather than for models.
Agency co-owner Gregor Weber is already extremely satisfied after two hours of casting. Margie Kinsky, wife of Bill Mockridge (a German-Canadian actor and founder of the Springmaus theatre in Bonn) had already cheated her way past the queue. A dwarf came from Leipzig and a military officer was there. There are also suitable roles and castings for a number of physically handicapped people. Even a woman from New York announced her arrival by phone.
Costume rehearsal in Cologne
"To be honest, the chances of being discovered as an acting talent in such a mass casting tend towards zero," says Weber, warning against high expectations. And anyone who takes part must be available on one to three days from five o'clock in the morning until the evening on an expense allowance. There will be a costume rehearsal in Cologne beforehand, during which the 40 actors will also audition for small roles. For the crowd scenes, however, no special skills are required: "We can all make it to prison, after all," Weber laughs.
In Berlin itself, the casting for the first seasons was not nearly as crowded, explains the agent. In Bonn, there is still great enthusiasm for cinema and the city has not been used so much as a film location. The film crew will be coming to the city from 6 to 12 March. In addition, the series will be shot in Solingen, Krefeld, Cologne and Düren.
By 1pm all casting application forms have been distributed. So that the carnival meeting can be held in the large hall in four hours’ time, Weber’s colleagues send the remaining applicants away. "Never mind, I would have preferred to be in the Walking Dead anyway," says an older Bonner to his wife laughing.
A consolation for anyone who did not get in: on Saturday 26 January from noon to 5pm there is another casting event in Düren. The Bonn scenes in the series Babylon Berlin will be broadcast in 2020, explains Popovic. (Original text: Martin Wein, Jana Henseler, Translation: Caroline Kusch)