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"The Man in the High Castle" in German : "The idea is not that far-fetched"
Mr. Evans, you become a resistance fighter in “The Man in the High Castle”, Amazon Prime Video's most successful series. In the “what if” story, the Nazis and the Japanese won World War II and divided the US among themselves. But their power is threatened by resistance and some mysterious films. The second season on Amazon starts on Friday in the original English. What do you attribute the success of the series to?
The series encompasses different genres, from contemporary drama and alternative historiography to science fiction. The focus is on the question of whether and how history after the Second World War could have developed under different circumstances. This stimulates the audience's imagination.
Is the world still not done with the Nazis?
That certainly applies to the series, but also to reality, even if it is only a small minority who still believe in the ideas and values of the past.
"The Man in the High Castle" is not a political series in the strict sense with a specific message.
There is definitely a message or a question. It reads: Do we hold our fate in our own hands? Can we change anything at all or are we just a product of our environment? Above all, however, the series asks how one would behave in such a situation?
The swastika in Times Square, German atomic bombs that lay US cities in ruins - when Philip K. Dick wrote this story in 1962 with the victorious Nazis and Japanese who divided America with the exception of a neutral zone, the war was still going on not long over. But how can you be seriously captivated by such an absurd story today?
The initial idea is not that far-fetched. It says that the Nazis and the Japanese won the war because they first developed the atomic bomb and thrown it at Washington. Often one cannot imagine what can happen. Take Syria as an example. What is happening there right now, nobody would have previously thought possible.
When you got the offer for this series, what was it about this adventurous story that attracted you in particular?
What I like about my character Frank Frink is how he survives in this environment. Today, 50 years later, we have the phone, social media and freedom of expression, there is none of that on the show.
How did you prepare for the role?
The most important thing was reading the book. The series is not an exact implementation of the novel, but the book helps to understand the world of Philip K. Dick - and it extends far beyond America, Japan and Nazi Germany to the Mediterranean and Africa. It is interesting how the west and east coast of America differ from each other in Dick's story. The Nazis try to integrate the Americans on the east coast into their world, the Japanese don't.
The Japanese secret service Kempeitai is portrayed almost worse than the Nazis, as Frank Frink learned in the first season.
Yes, he was even tortured. And for me as an actor, it was not comfortable to be shown naked.
An important part of the series is the hunt for special films that also show a possible different reality and of which even Adolf Hitler is afraid because they could bring his empire to collapse. How powerful can films be?
Television and cinema can be powerful and transport people to other, new places very quickly. In the series, the films that show another life and another world also represent hope for the people in the occupied territories. With very good films, people can escape reality. In any case, films are very important to me.
But can films change reality?
I believe it is possible. Documentation can, for example, make people think and make them change something. And as an actor you naturally have the hope that films will make a difference.
What can viewers expect in the second season?
The second season is very different from the first. In addition to New York and San Francisco, Berlin plays an important role this time. There are also some time leaps. At the end of the first season, the Japanese Minister of Commerce saw a world without Nazis and Japanese occupation, but that wasn't the reality after all. The characters also develop in different directions. And there will be an encounter with the man in the high castle. He gets an important place in the series.
Your character Frank Frink joins the resistance, he has to give up his neutrality and face the fight. Does the series have more to do with reality than you initially think?
Absolutely right, and that may have something to do with what has happened in Europe since the first season, with the terrorist attacks in France, but also with the general unrest in the world. The second season picks up on that. There is so much change, Donald Trump, Brexit.
What influence did Isa Dick Hacket, the daughter of author Philip K. Dick, have on the film?
She wasn't on set every day, but as executive producer she was very directly involved in the making of the series. I spoke to her very often. The man in the high castle is also a bit drawn like her father.
Will there be a sequel?
I think that would be great, but the decision will only be made in January, when the dubbed version has started in Germany (from January 13th).
The interview was conducted by Kurt Sagatz.
Rupert Evans, 40, is an English actor who is just as present in the theater (Royal Shakespeare Company) as on the big screen ("American Idyll") or on television.
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