Actor Heiner Lauterbach 'does not like doctor series at all'

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Writed by - Andy Gocker
  Actor Heiner Lauterbach"mag überhaupt keine Arztserien"
Heiner Lauterbach slips into the role of the country doctor Hajo in 'Höllgrund'. © SWR/Studio Central/Maria Wiesler, SpotOn

Start of the series 'Höllgrund'

A village, several deaths and a lot of question marks: With 'Höllgrund' a special kind of Black Forest thriller starts on September 16th in the ARD media library. The eight-part series plays with the cliché of the German country doctor series. The charming doctor Fabian (August Wittgenstein, 41) is not the good savior, but is involved in a series of murders.

Village police officer Tanja (Lou Strenger, 30) is the only one who suspects that there is a dark secret behind the cases. The first victim is her good friend and country doctor Hajo, played by Heiner Lauterbach (69), who is killed shortly before he retires. But Hajo's ghost keeps appearing and helps Tanja to solve the case.

Lauterbach is no stranger to village life, he lives in a farmhouse on Lake Starnberg. 'They drive around with me in the tractor,' he explains in an interview with the news agency spot on news. In addition, the actor reveals why he can't do anything with either the doctor's series or the 'crime scene'.

You take on the role of the deceased country doctor Hajo in the eight-part thriller series 'Höllgrund'. What attracted you to the script?

Heiner Lauterbach: The scripts were already very good when I got them about two years ago. I was actually the first actor they hired. I've been assured that the rest of the characters will be well cast. I then had a longer chat with the producer. He had to do some convincing because my role was a bit small at first. But I followed the old adage: it's better to have a small part in a good production than a big part in a bad one. After talking to my wife, I agreed. Because the production has the potential to become something extraordinary on German television.

Hajo keeps appearing to the policewoman Tanja and helps her to understand the case. Do you believe in such supernatural things?

Lauterbach: I think it's pretty unlikely, but I wouldn't rule it out. I feel the same way about faith. I am agnostic. I don't rule out the existence of a god, but I tend not to believe in it. I haven't seen a ghost either.

The series is set in a picturesque setting in the Black Forest. How was it for you to shoot there?

Lauterbach: Very nice. That also played into why I accepted the role. The overall package was right. What I like is that we celebrate the diversity of our country and take advantage of it. The Americans do it admirably. In US productions, the area is usually a main actor. I think we don't do that enough in Germany. In this respect, I liked the fact that the focus was on the Black Forest, where I've shot a few times.

Does your perfect holiday look like this? Or are you more of a sea-beach type?

Lauterbach: Rather by the sea. But less lying in the sun on the beach. I once shot in the Dolomites, where everything seemed much more threatening. When high mountains are very close to the villages, one becomes gloomy. I think they also have the highest suicide rates in these areas. At first glance, the mountains are very impressive. But if you live there, it hits the mind. But for a drama like 'Höllgrund' the atmosphere is of course perfect.

The series is set in a small village and reflects life in such communities very well. You live on Lake Starnberg - have you gotten used to village life?

Lauterbach: Yes, we also have our village doctor. I live in a farmhouse at the end of Lake Starnberg. It stands all alone, right on the water. And the next place is really a village. That has nothing to do with what one associates with Lake Starnberg. The huge mansions are all on the other side. I'm on the east bank, which is actually nicer. I see the sun going down over the lake. I don't even know why all the rich people live on the west bank. For me, they drive the tractor around and pull my car out of the snow in the winter if I get stuck. My home is village-like and I like that very much.

There are usually many clubs in a village. Are you active in one?

Lauterbach: Less in clubs. I'm in the golf club, but otherwise I'm not active in any shooting club or anything like that. Although the fire brigade would not be far from us.

In 'Höllgrund' the country doctor is not the good guy, but the bad guy. The production breaks with the typical country doctor series, some of which are very kitschy. But most Germans love such series. Can you explain that?

Lauterbach: Germans have an affinity for kitsch. That's a fact. I was invited by a producer in Berlin in the 80s. He said to me completely abruptly: 'Lauterbach, you're a man for a smock.' I didn't even know what he meant (laughs). Then he wanted to talk me into an engagement in a doctor series. Sigmar Solbach finally took on the leading role in 'Dr. Stefan Frank - The Doctor Who Women Trust'. I have no affinity for it and don't like doctor series at all.

So you're not a 'Bergdoktor' fan?

Lauterbach: Hans Sigl [main actor in the series 'Der Bergdoktor; editor's note] is a very nice and good colleague of mine. I don't want to say anything bad about it. And 'Der Bergdoktor' is well done, there is much worse doctor series.

The village policewoman eats chocolates all the time. What's your anti-stress remedy?

Lauterbach: I had to eat some of these chocolates. And that's something I don't like doing. In general, I'm not a fan of eating or smoking in the film. You have to keep repeating it, even if you don't feel like it anymore. Personally, I make music when I want to relieve stress. Then I sit down at the piano or pick up my guitar. But I'm not that stressed.

Crime novels are currently at their peak. Are you a fan?

Lauterbach: I don't watch 'crime scenes' anymore. I'm not a 'SOKO' - or generally Crime Advocate. I like to watch thrillers, psychological thrillers or dramas - if they are well done. I shoot a lot of comedies myself, especially for the cinema I use this genre almost exclusively. So I support the anti-crime program with my work.

What are you up to next? Probably not retired yet?

Lauterbach: I just filmed the second part of 'Advanced Grandchildren'. There is no talk of retirement yet. I also think it's nice that you're not forced to stop at a certain age. That's one of the nice things about acting. If you want, you can slowly end your career and don't have to sit at home overnight and stare at the walls.

You will be 70 next year. Does the number scare you or do you have no problem with it?

Lauterbach: Neither. Age doesn't let you down completely. But fear? For God's sake. A bad diagnosis or prognosis would scare me. Certainly not a number. You age every minute, not in a day.

Do you already have something planned for your special day?

Lauterbach: I've never been a friend of big birthday parties. That's why I don't start with it anymore when I'm old.

The eight episodes of 'Höllgrund' will be shown on television on October 31st and November 1st on SWR. Four episodes each run from 8:15 p.m.

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