Editor-in-chief Gregor Peter Schmitz looks into the new one star-Magazine. This week he is particularly moved by the interview with Til Schweiger about his excessive drinking and the power as a director. He also talks about Sahra Wagenknecht and what her new party idea means.
When “Spiegel” reported in April 2023 that employees accused Til Schweiger of alcohol abuse, harassment and violence during the filming of “Manta, Manta 2”, the headline was: “They call him the ‘Emperor'”. This set the stage: Schweiger is not just any movie actor, not one of those actors who will soon have to fear being replaced by artificial intelligence, he is: Til Schweiger. And that means: at the top. With his films and productions, Schweiger embodies for the German cinema market what Tom Cruise or Leonardo DiCaprio are for Hollywood: a guarantee that viewers will rush to every new film, almost no matter what it is about.
Anyone who has such power to win over an audience also has a lot of power on a film set. And Til Schweiger has at least partially lived out this and even exploited it. The investigation by a law firm on behalf of Schweiger’s production company has now shown that not all of the allegations in the “Spiegel” piece can be substantiated, but many of them can be: The report paints a picture of a powerful director and leading actor who drinks and is violent on set, who speaks in a “borderline, invasive and hurtful manner” that causes some employees to have a very bad mood and even fear.
Schweiger has been in hiding for months; he was barely seen and heard. Now he has broken his silence in a meeting lasting several hours with my colleague Hannes Roß, who has been involved in the film industry for a long time – and speaks surprisingly openly about his dealings with alcohol, his mistakes and also his remorse. A firm resolution runs through the interview: I must no longer lose control. It’s a fascinating conversation. Nevertheless, we considered and discussed whether it belongs on the front page: After all, we are giving the powerful Mr. Schweiger a stage again – a power that anonymous employees on the set who felt threatened by him do not have. But we believe that it is the right thing to do to initiate debates about abuse of power, about alcohol and also about the question of what needs to change in the German film industry. My colleague Thembi Wolf researched how much has already happened there and how much still needs to happen.
Sahra Wagenknecht and her populism
Sahra Wagenknecht is not a political actress. This has to be said so clearly because doubts about this thesis are certainly permissible. Hardly any German politician has focused so much on making a bella figura for years, in talk shows, in speeches and at demonstrations. Wagenknecht hardly wastes any time on annoying organizational or committee work. The sociologist Oliver Nachtwey wrote about her: “Her populism works, paradoxically, precisely because she herself now belongs to the media establishment.” Her followers felt represented by her because she was not like them. “That’s why it’s no problem that Wagenknecht in a strike vest at a demonstration looks like an actress who got into the wrong play.”
The fact that Wagenknecht is now leaving the Left and founding her own party called “Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht – For Reason and Justice” is therefore a logical development, but also a new turning point in German domestic politics. Now there is a threat of populism from both the far right and the far left, especially in migration policy. My colleagues Tilman Gerwien and Jan Rosenkranz were able to conduct the first major print interview with Ms. Wagenknecht about her plans. New party, new luck? Read for yourself.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.