30 years old GZSZ: star actor Wolfgang Bahru at TAG24 talk
By Nadine Steinman
Berlin – What a memory! On May 11, 30 years ago, the first episode of “good times bad timeson German television. Tomorrow Thursday works at RTL The big feature-length anniversary episode, which focuses on GZSZ veteran Wolfgang Bahro (61) aka Jo Gerner.
In an interview with Nadine Steinman, editor of TAG24, the actor tells what he envies the cast of the hit series “Bridgerton”, who are his role models and where he sees himself in 30 years.
Day 24: When you first started, did you ever think soap would become such a long-term success?
Wolfgang Bahru: never! I thought that after half a year it would be over and GZSZ would be gone from the program. But now the TV show has become almost the one that has been shown on German television for the longest time.
Which ex-GZSZ star dumps their bikini hammer here?
Day 24: What is the recipe for success?
Bahru: I think this has something to do with the fact that GZSZ keeps following stories and issues that affect everyone in some way. Whether it’s a love affair, marital problems or education as you grow from a child to an adult. Problems that everyone has gone through before. It replaces a little staircase chatter that used to be there.
You can easily talk about these things at school, at work, with friends. It is true that the slogan: “Did you notice what Catherine Gerner did again?” People used to talk about Mrs. Mueller on the third floor.
Day 24: What has changed in three decades?
Bahru: everyone! If you watched the first episodes from that time and look now, there are worlds in between. While at that time the series was almost an amateur scene, today it is very professional. Both from the acting and from the effort, the visuals and the stories, which contain far more content and are better researched than they were at the time.
Will Joe Gerner die serial death?
Day 24: In the anniversary episode, Joe Gerner once again faces a mortal danger. Should fans shiver because of their favorite lawyer?
Bahru: ultimate! There will be a lot of surprises, but I want to keep it open in terms of what fans will experience. It was definitely a very stressful time, especially for me.
Day 24: why?
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Bahru: Usually, when a special movie like this is being shot, it involves four to five actors, who usually travel to Tenerife or Mallorca and have the opportunity to focus fully on that special there.
But my story had to be told here, and so I had the problem that I had to shoot the regular five episodes a week and an extra one of 90 minutes. It was very stressful.
Day 24: Jo Gerner has nearly died a serial death multiple times. Have you ever played with the idea of leaving GZSZ already?
Bahru: Yeah. Time and time again when there were situations where I worried that the character would be condemned and destroyed. Before that happens, I’d rather get out. And there were some stories where I thought, “No, I’m not going to do that.” Then I talked to production about it and they changed the story.
Bahru doesn’t just fight for the lawyer
Day 24: Do you have an example?
Bahru: There was a situation where Joe Gerner lived with a woman. Barbara Graff. She was addicted to alcohol. Then Gerner must invite the manager of his restaurant, Vasan, to dinner.
He was going to use the whole evening just to humiliate her. But I didn’t want to play that. Because Gerner is not a sadist. Gerner can get bad if someone tries to get into the wagon. But Barbara Graff did not.
Day 24: So you’re also fighting for Joe Gerner?
Bahru: yes! Then the production saw that as well and we designed the story completely differently.
Day 24: You are also fighting to address critical social issues in the GZSZ. There is a lot going on in the world right now. Would you like to include one of the current topics in the presentation?
Bahru: The problem with current topics, like the pandemic or this terrible war in Ukraine, is that we’re shooting six to eight weeks ago. And then with certain things we can just be imaginary. After all, the situation in a war can change overnight. We often always have to deal with topics that have a certain subject matter that people are interested in, but are timeless.
Day 24: Joe Gerner was already seen as a hippie. Since you’re such a huge “Star Trek” fan, are we ever going to see him as Mr. Spock?
Bahru: (laughs) I like it, but I’m afraid the production won’t go on. However, I was once pictured as Spock for GZSZ, along with Frank Thomas Mindy as Kirk and Sandra Keeler as Aura.
But this hippie figure was a dream. And when I had to watch the second season of Bridgeton that day, it occurred to me that one day you could fulfill a dream that falls into this period.
The most beautiful thing about Bridgerton is actually these gorgeous costumes and the scenery in which the actors are allowed to move. I would also like to do something like this.
Day 24: Several music stars were already guests at the Mauerwerk. Which band or music would you like to see on the GZSZ stage?
Bahru: They are all dead already (laughs). Maybe ABBA, but that’s only digitally available. James Blunt automatically comes to mind.
Do you have role models, Mr. Bahru?
Day 24: Speaking of stars on the set: they are famous selfie partners. Who do you want to take a picture with?
Bahru: With Dustin Hoffman or Robert De Niro.
Day 24: Is this an acting role model for you?
Bahru: way yes. Oh, and Michael Keaton, who I also really like. As does Judi Dench. I find them wonderful too.
Day 24: What’s the strangest question you’ve ever asked to answer in an interview?
Bahru: Did I ever pretend to be Joe Gerner?
Day 24: What was the answer?
Bahru: No, we didn’t get to the point where I pretended to be Joe Gerner (laughs).
If everything still works at 90…
Day 24: What does GZSZ wish for the next 30 years?
Bahru: I hope GZSZ continues to be as successful as it is, and I hope we can come up with many more beautiful and exciting stories to keep people entertained.
Day 24: Then where will you be?
Bahru: In 30 years, I’ll be a little over 90. If everything was still working mentally and physically, I would continue to appear on stage or in front of the camera.
For example, I was recently in Wörlitz with the wonderful Brigitte Grothum and her daughter Deborah Wigert and some other colleagues and did a live radio play there. Brigitte Grothom is 86 and I think that’s great. Just as I find it great that Dieter Hallervorden is still on stage at the age of 86. This is my big role model.
Day 24: Do you still have unfulfilled dreams?
Bahru: ultimate. I definitely should play the main role in the movie.
Day 24: What should it be? Action, drama, love or biography?
Bahru: Everyone (laughs).
Day 24: Suppose the acting didn’t work out. Have you ever thought about stepping into your parents’ liquor store?
Bahru: never. Not even in a dream. I studied psychology and would go in that direction. I had completed a seminar on hypnotherapy.
Cover photo: Britta Pedersen / dpa-Zentralbild / ZB