Tag Archives: Paranoid

Striking gold

Fresh from her triumph at the International Emmys, Christiane Paul isn’t taking success for granted. She tells DQ about leaving medicine to become an actor and how she chooses her next “adventure.”

Christmas came early for Christiane Paul when she was named Best Actress at the 44th International Emmy Awards. Now at the start of a new year, it’s clear the experiences of that evening last November in New York haven’t faded, as she is reminded of that special night every time she walks into her kitchen.

“That’s where I keep the award,” reveals the German actor. “It’s very heavy – if it falls down, it could really destroy something so the safest place to look at it is in my kitchen.

“When I touch it, I really can remember the feeling I had that evening. It’s really funny. Something lights up in me and I start smiling again. I’m very happy because I never expected it and sometimes I cannot believe I got it. But I have it with me – it’s real! For me, it was not only the surprise of winning the award but the overwhelming response in Germany too. That was very surprising because normally in Germany we don’t often celebrate our own people. That’s not what we’re known for. We’re shy! But it’s very interesting that a lot of newspapers had it on the front page and people in the street were telling me, ‘Congratulations!’ I’m just happy.”

Against competition from fellow nominees Judi Dench (Esio Trot), Jodi Sta Maria (Pangako Sa’yo) and Grazi Massafera (Verdades Secretas), it was Paul’s turn in TV movie Unterm Radar (Under the Radar) that was judged to be the best performance of the year.

The political thriller tells the story of judge and single mother Elke Seeberg (Paul), whose life is turned upside down when her daughter is accused of plotting a terrorist attack in Berlin.

Christiane Paul in Under the Radar, the show for which she won an International Emmy

With her daughter on the run, Seeberg’s home is put under surveillance as she investigates what may have led her daughter to be involved in the bombing and comes to learn about a side of her life she knew nothing about.

It is produced by Enigma Film for WDR and ARD Degeto, with Global Screen holding distribution rights.

“Three years ago when I met the director [Elmar Fischer], I knew we had a special script, and a political thriller is not a genre we have so much of here in Germany,” the actor admits. “Normally we don’t have such political movies on TV. So it was special from the first moment. The script gave me the possibility to show some of the things I hope I can do.”

For mother-of-two Paul, the role was particularly challenging as it forced her to confront the scenario of losing a daughter, who at first is feared dead and later is held by police. This also led her to collaborate closely with Fischer on several scenes she felt could be improved.

“In one scene when my character failed to get her daughter out of the jail, I go back to the car and it was written that I leave, but I told the director I would never do that as a mother,” she explains. “I can’t do it. I can’t leave my daughter there, that’s not an option. It wasn’t possible, even if they shoot me, it doesn’t matter. I can’t leave. So there were some changes under discussion during our preparation for the movie.”

Paul on the Ostfriesenkiller set with novelist Klaus-Peter Wolf

That preparation also involved reading books and making a visit to a former GDR (East German) prison, where Paul hoped to understand more about torture techniques her on-screen daughter would face during interrogation following the bomb blast.

“It was very important to go there just to have a feeling of what that means, for my character to imagine what happened with her daughter,” she says. “So I did a lot of stuff. You need this kind of preparation, talking and discussion with the director and maybe the producer and writer, just to get really into it.

“Every project is different because sometimes you don’t need much preparation and sometimes you need a lot. Normally I like to have more than eight weeks, which is a luxury! In the miniseries Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter [Generation War], I played just a little character, a Russian Jewish nurse who is betrayed and then comes back as a Russian officer. I had only a couple of shooting days but it was so hard to prepare because I had the Russian accent and I had to know about medicine and the Russian army in the Second World War. My experience is that, if you go deeper and deeper, you can discover new things and enrich your performance. But if you are on set, you have to forget that and just act.”

Paul’s career has spanned TV movies and series, the stage and cinema, with small-screen outings including Helden (Heroes), two-parter Die Himmelsleiter – Sehnsucht nach Morgen (After the Fall) and Der Fall Bruckner (The Bruckner Case).

The latter won several awards at the 2015 Grimme-Preis ceremony, one of the most prestigious awards events in Germany. But how does Paul pick her parts?

“I’m looking for what touches me, what inspires me, what I feel as well,” she says. “Sometimes it’s just an immediate decision. I like to work, I like to create something special so I can’t say exactly what [a role] has to be. Of course, it has to be special to me. It can be about who is directing, who is producing. There are a lot of different things to consider when I make that decision.”

2013 TV movie Helden (Heroes)

She also sees every new project as a “new adventure” and the chance to embody a different character from those she has played before, but says she has no preference when it comes to working in TV or film.

“It doesn’t matter for an actor what format it is so long as it’s a good project or a good character,” she observes. “Nobody would say they prefer more movies or more miniseries if that’s the case. But if you have a TV show, it’s very hard work because you work over a long time. Normally I do films or TV movies so you have 25 or 30 shooting days. But if you make a TV show or miniseries, it can be really exhausting for the whole crew and for you as an actor because you have to keep your character fresh in your mind. It was a great experience for me to join Paranoid and to realise how it feels to work from March until August and have your character prepared for every scene.”

Beyond German series and movies, Paul is now breaking out on the international stage following her appearance in 2016 thriller Paranoid, which was produced by Red Production Company for British broadcaster ITV.

She plays a German detective who comes to work alongside a British police force investigating a murder when their search for the killer leads them across Europe.

“I never expected the chance to join a British show so it was so great to experience that,” Paul recalls, “and nobody knew me there! It wasn’t a holiday but I could just sit there in the corner and wait until my scene came up. I was just Christiane – it was relaxing and there was a lot of respect as well. It was very interesting for me.

“I would like to work there again. The UK has the best actors in the world right now. If you look to Hollywood or see all the biggest shows coming up, they’re all British actors, so I would be very pleased if somebody asked me to work there again. I was so pleased and happy to have that chance.”

It’s all a far cry, however, from Paul’s first career as a surgeon – one she was forced to leave to pursue her acting dream. Having studied medicine, it was while working at the Charité hospital in Berlin in 2003 that she realised she had to decide between acting and surgery.

“I realised I couldn’t do both at the same time – it doesn’t work out well and I wanted to be good in every subject, so I had to make the decision to end something,” Paul admits. “I really wanted to know if I had the chance to be a good actress. It felt to me like there was more passion there, and there was the question of whether I was able to do it. That’s why I made the decision to leave one thing and I left surgery behind.

“In the first years afterwards, it was quite difficult for me because every time I went into a hospital, I felt like I was coming home. Normally in Germany, I don’t like the TV movies or series about doctors or hospitals and I try to avoid them if they want me to play a doctor.”

Now with an International Emmy in her kitchen, Paul is looking forward to seeing what new opportunities present themselves, whether in Germany or elsewhere.

Her most recent project was Ostfriesenkiller, the first instalment in a planned series of films based on the Ostfriesen novels by Klaus-Peter Wolf for German broadcaster ZDF.

She plays investigator Ann Kathrin Klaasen who, in the opening story, must investigate a series of brutal murders. Filming took place in October last year and the hope is that perhaps one or two more movies will follow, subject to the performance of the first when it airs in Germany later in 2017.

Until then, Paul is happy to develop her own projects and see where her career will take her next. She concludes: “I read an interview with [Hollywood actor] Jennifer Connelly who said, ‘It could happen that after winning an Oscar, nobody gets a role again.’ So I hope that after winning the Emmy, that doesn’t happen with me. It’s not a promise for something. So I hope I can make a lot of good projects as I have done in the past and that it will work out in a good way.”

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The CW turns up to 11

Supernatural will enter its 12th season on The CW

US networks are notorious for cancelling scripted series early. So there was a pleasant surprise for producers this week when CBS/Warner Bros joint venture The CW announced it is renewing all 11 of its current series. Talk about happy customers.

Launched in 2006, The CW is a bit different from the four major US networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) in that it focuses on a younger audience (18- to 34-year-olds). This is reflected in its programming line-up, which places a strong emphasis on DC Comics-originated superheroes, zombies, vampires, Armageddon and the like.

As we’ve discussed before, the top three shows on The CW are all DC Comics-based. The Flash is currently in the middle of season two and a third has now been ordered. Arrow, meanwhile, has been awarded a fifth run and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, only eight episodes into its first outing, has been granted a renewal.

The next best-rating show on The CW (in the key 18-49 demographic) is Supernatural, which is about a pair of brothers (the Winchesters) who hunt down demons, monsters and ghosts. An incredibly durable series, the new greenlight means it will be up to 12 seasons – in excess of 250 episodes. Hardly anything apart from hit procedural crime dramas go on that long, so it has proven a real stalwart of the network. Indeed, there are reports that the key cast has also signed up for season 13.

The 100
Also renewed is The 100, which follows a group of young survivors of a nuclear apocalypse

Coming in behind Supernatural is iZombie, which has been given a third season (the clue to its subject matter is in the title). After this comes The 100, which follows a group of young survivors who return to Earth from space stations approximately 100 years after a nuclear Armageddon. This one is currently drawing about 1.2 million viewers per episode and has been granted a fourth season.

The Vampire Diaries, meanwhile, has just been given an eighth season. Even more impressive is that the show spawned a spin-off called The Originals (more vampires), which has been granted a fourth season.

From here we come to the three lowest ratings performers (in terms of 18-49s). Interestingly, all three break with The CW’s successful formula of supernatural and mythology.

Jane the Virgin, for example, is an adaptation of a comic telenovela that has been gifted a third season. Reign, which has been greenlit for a fourth run, is The CW’s take on the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. And Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, bottom of the charts by some margin, is a romantic musical comedy drama that has been given the greenlight for a second outing.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has won a Golden Globe but doesn’t perform as well in the ratings as many of the other CW renewals

Commenting on the mass renewal, The CW president Mark Pedowitz said: “The CW has become home to some of the most critically acclaimed shows on broadcast TV, with a wide array of fantastic scripted series across the week, ranging from musical comedy, to superhero action, to gritty sci-fi dramas. As we continue our strategy of more year-round original programming, picking up these 11 series for the 2016-2017 season puts us in a great position of having proven, high-quality shows to launch in the autumn as well as midseason and summer of 2017.”

A couple of obvious questions spring to mind as a result of this renewal frenzy, however. The first is why has The CW renewed the last three series when it clearly does better with supernatural/superhero shows? Well, the answer seems to be that they are the only ones in the portfolio to be produced by CBS TV Studios – and CBS has a minimum expectation that it will get to deliver three shows to the network. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has won a Golden Globe. But it must still be a concern that the CBS shows are outperformed by all the other programmes (which are, incidentally, all produced by the CW’s other partner, Warner Bros.)

Secondly, does it mean The CW is now closed to new shows for a year? Not necessarily. The network has the flexibility to commission some new shows for the summer, or maybe introduce some on shorter-runs.

Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle is making Trust for FX

Still in the US, cable network FX has ordered 10 episodes of a new drama from Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle. Entitled Trust, the series focuses on the story of Getty oil heir John Paul Getty III, who was kidnapped by an Italian gang in 1973. Described as a combination of dynastic saga and an examination of the corrosive power of money, it is the first Boyle project to have been greenlit since he signed a first-look deal with FX in 2014. Executive producers are Boyle, Simon Beaufoy and Christian Colson (who also signed a first-look deal with FX).

The other big story coming out of the US cable market is that AMC has ordered a 10-episode second season of its martial arts drama Into the Badlands. The renewal is no real surprise given that the six-episode first run achieved the third highest-rated first season in US cable TV history (averaging 5.6 million viewers per episode in the Live+7 ratings).

“With its deep dive into authentic martial arts, the visually stunning Into the Badlands proved to be unlike anything else on television,” said Charlie Collier, president of AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios. “Co-creators and showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar, along with a talented team of producers, cast and crew, brought us an artfully crafted series. We’re eager to return to the world of barons and blades and spend even more time with these compelling and evolving characters across an expanded second season.”

Into the Badlands
Into the Badlands’ second season will increase from six episodes to 10

High-concept scripted shows like Into the Badlands are playing an important role in helping US cable networks establish themselves in the international market as well. “Simultaneous to its US launch, AMC Global will premiere season two of Into the Badlands within minutes of the US broadcast,” AMC said. “AMC Global premiered season one in 125 countries simultaneous to the US premiere, and it achieved a record-breaking performance.”

In another example of the way scripted shows are used to distinguish platforms, Virgin Media UK has secured exclusive UK rights to DirecTV series Kingdom from Endemol Shine International for its on-demand service. Episodes from the first two seasons will be available to its customers from April 1. This echoes a similar deal last year when Virgin Media took exclusive UK rights to Starz series Ash vs Evil Dead for on-demand.

Finally, ITV UK has commissioned an eight-part thriller called Paranoid from Red Production Company. Indira Varma, Robert Glenister, Neil Stuke, Lesley Sharp and Kevin Doyle star in the series, which is being billed as a conspiracy thriller.

According to ITV, Paranoid (written by Bill Gallagher) “tells the story of a female GP who is murdered in a children’s playground with an abundance of eyewitnesses. A group of detectives embark on what seems to be a straightforward murder investigation, but as they delve deeper into the case they are drawn into the ever-darkening mystery, which takes them unexpectedly across Europe.”

Commenting on the show, Red’s Nicola Shindler said: “We’re really excited to be working with Bill Gallagher (The Paradise, Conviction, Love Life and Lark Rise to Candleford) again. He’s created a conspiracy thriller the audience won’t be able to look away from. It’s edgy, suspenseful and hugely ambitious as filming takes place in Cheshire and Germany.”

Red’s parent company StudioCanal will distribute Paranoid internationally.

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