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actress maria dragus: a little prodigy makes it big

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Translation by:

Victoria Tarry


Maria Dra­gus was only 14 years old when she played her first big role in Michael Haneke's The White Rib­bon (2009). The ac­tress, who was cho­sen as Eu­ro­pean Shoot­ing Star 2014 at the Berli­nale Fes­ti­val, now wants  to step it up a notch. Interview

"I can speak a lit­tle bit of French. It's quite a lot like Ro­man­ian." Maria Vic­to­ria Dra­gus cer­tainly has a line up of in­ter­views this af­ter­noon at the Berli­nale Fes­ti­val, but her en­ergy is tire­less and with a big smile in a white dress, she gives it all she's got. Es­pe­cially since she can enjoy par­tic­i­pat­ing in the in­ter­view in ex­cel­lent French. The young ac­tress will soon be 20 and her en­thu­si­asm and sat­is­fac­tion at al­ready hav­ing made a name for her­self in Berlin are writ­ten all over her face. "It's the fourth time for me at Berli­nale and I al­ready feel a lit­tle bit like a host. Yes­ter­day, I showed my Eng­lish col­league a cur­ry­wurst restau­rant." 

Haneke as cin­e­matic mid­wife?

Speak­ing in French, Ger­man, Eng­lish and also in Ro­man­ian, her na­tive lan­guage, Maria Dra­gus is caught in a mul­ti­lin­gual whirl­wind of in­ter­views at the 64th Berli­nale. But the roles that she has  taken on until now have cer­tainly not been the eas­i­est. Start­ing with Klara, the pas­tor's daugh­ter, in the crit­i­cally ap­praised film The White Rib­bon (2009) by Aus­trian di­rec­tor Michael Haneke. "I didn't re­ally know Haneke be­fore see­ing the film. Then I saw Caché (Hid­den, 2005) and I re­alised that it was going to be a real chal­lenge. But he was very at­ten­tive to us, very pro­fes­sional. On set we also had a coach so that we young­sters could learn about the very dif­fi­cult plot."

Scene from The White Rib­bon (2009) by Austrian director Michael Haneke. 

The film was a tri­umph and Maria Dra­gus ended up the steps at Cannes where the film was awarded the Golden Palm. "Being on the red car­pet at Cannes was crazy. Dur­ing the screen­ing I couldn't be­lieve that it was re­ally me on the screen. When I saw the qual­ity of work that Haneke di­rects, I said to my dad: I've made up my mind, this is what I want to do. I want to be an ac­tress". At just 15 years of age, Maria Dra­gus pock­eted the Ger­man Film Award for Best Sup­port­ing Acress. She fol­lowed this as ter­ror­ist Gu­drun Esslin's sis­ter in the Red Army Fac­tion film Wer, wenn nicht wir (Who if not us, 2011) a film that has also caused a stir at Berli­nale. Then there was Emily Atef's Tue-moi (Kill me, 2013), filmed partly in Mar­seille.

From now on, the tal­ented prodigy wants to step it up a notch. At nearly 20, she no longer wants to play lit­tle girl roles. "It's time to move on to some­thing dif­fer­ent. At the mo­ment I am work­ing on a ZDF chan­nel tril­ogy which is about an East meets West story. I will fi­nally be play­ing an adult role."  And as for a change in reper­toire, maybe she could go down the ro­man­tic com­edy path? "Oh, that would be bril­liant. In Paris, ob­vi­ously, I love that city! But first of all I need to im­prove my French." Aim for the stars!

This in­ter­view was orig­i­nally pub­lished on the Berli­nale Blog of the Goethe-In­sti­tut France. Copy­rights: (C) Sébastien Van­nier/Goethe-In­sti­tut France

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Translated from Maria Dragus: petit prodige deviendra grande