“The kind of roles I really like are those which are the complex, unusual and sometimes rather daring ones“ says Actorw Lena Urzendowsky who caught the acting bug at the tender age of five and made her screen debut at 14 in Karola Hattop‘s contemporary rendering of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale THE SNOW QUEEN in 2014.
“It‘s always been important for me to work on different kinds of roles and in different genres because I like to have variation,“ she explains, adding that one of her ambitions is to “appear in a historical costume drama where you are able to speak an antiquated language and assume past forms of etiquette. And I am also interested in physical and musical roles, where I have to play a dancer, or musician because I did this when I was growing up when I attended the workshops of the Stagefactory in Berlin until I was twelve.“ There is certainly no doubt about her versatility as an Actor when one sees the parts she has been cast in since her first lead role in the cybergrooming drama DAS WEISSE KANINCHEN in 2015 which earned her four awards for her performance, including the prestigious Adolf Grimme Prize, as well as a nomination for the New Faces Awards.
The characters she has played have ranged from the initially shy and awkward Evi in the biopic of the fashion designer Rudolph Moshammer, DER GROSSE RUDOLPH, through the MS patient Kati in the political drama KRANKE GESCHÄFTE and a teenager experiencing the pangs of first love in Leonie Krippendorff‘s debut feature COCOON (she received the Iris Prize for Best Female Performance at last year‘s Cardiff International Film Festival for this role) to the IT nerd and hacker Kira in the Netflix series HOW TO SELL DRUGS ONLINE (FAST) and the drug addict Stella in Amazon Prime series WE CHILDREN FROM BAHNHOF ZOO.
“Preparation for the roles is particularly important for me,“ Lena says. “I‘ll sit myself down and analyse what I need to understand the role. Sometimes, there is a clear inner feeling of the direction I need to take and other times I will do some research to see if I had perhaps missed something.“ The roles of Kati in KRANKE GESCHÄFTE and Stella in WE CHILDREN FROM BAHNHOF ZOO, for example, prompted her to learn more about their particular circumstances. “For Kati, it was primarily about posture and knowing how someone with MS moves and walks, while I did some research on heroin as preparation for playing Stella and learnt what it is like to experience cold turkey. I also wanted to know what the music was like that they listened to and how Stella would dance so I went off to a club by myself and tried out her dance steps!“
At the same time, bouncing off ideas with her director ahead of the shoot is “extremely important“ for the 21-year-old “so that we are talking about the same things and know exactly what the other one is wanting to tell and where they are wanting to go. It‘s only then that I can really open up as an actor.“ And her acting credits aren‘t restricted only to German film and TV productions since she also had her taste of working on an international production when she was cast in the four-part thriller series SHADOWPLAY set in post-war Berlin which was produced by TANDEM Productions and BRON Studios with broadcaster ZDF.
“It was really interesting to see the different approaches taken towards filmmaking for this series when I was shooting in Prague in 2019,“ Lena recalls. “And it gave me an opportunity to work with Nina Hoss who has always been a great role model for me. In fact, she is one of the reasons why I wanted to become an Actor in the first place.“
“What I like about this profession is that the work is concentrated in an intense period of a couple of months where you‘re all pulling together as a team and giving your all,“ she continues. “Sometimes I also have the feeling that acting is almost a necessity for me – it gives me the chance to explore all those facets of humanity which I find so fascinating, yet can also be rather scary.“
Depending on how the Corona virus pandemic develops in the coming months, Lena hopes to be back in front of a film camera for two projects later this year. Meanwhile, she has three new debut features – Oliver Kracht‘s GERMANY YEAR ZERO (TRÜMMERMÄDCHEN), Laura Lehmus’ comedy SWEET DISASTER, and Max Fey’s ZWISCHEN UNS with BABYLON BERLIN star Liv Lisa Fries – that could be appearing at a festival near you this summer.