Those child prodigies you’ve heard about, they actually exist. Just have a look at Noah Saavedra, first he got a role in a James Bond movie, then he slipped from there straight into the lead role in one of last year’s biggest Austrian feature films “Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden”. At the age of 25, he has already achieved what many spend a lifetime dreaming of. The actor, who has Chilean roots but grew up in the Austrian province Burgenland, tells us in this intimate interview how much hard work goes into his picture book CV.
You grew up in Vienna, and now you live in Berlin. What do you miss about Vienna?
That Viennese easygoing attitude. Vienna acts as if it was a metropolis, but it is very village-like for all that. There is only one centre of town, and the spaces where everything happens are quite limited, you have a comfortable overview. That’s a whole different quality from here in Berlin. Everything here is fast, there’s always something going on. You can’t get enough of watching it all, but of course that’s also stressful.
What is the biggest challenge for you as an actor?
The biggest challenge? To act all the time, this is also a big subject for us at school. The actor is an active being on a stage that isn’t wallowing in emotions but trying to keep things moving along. Every phrase has to have an attitude and an aim, and this is incredibly hard to pull off. You can learn a lyric by heart, you have said it that same way a hundred thousand times and then the show comes around and you still have to react as if it was the very first time. Making phrases sound “new”, not to bathe in your emotions, not to try to celebrate yourself onstage, but to tell a story. And this is often the most beautiful thing, because when you succeed it’s absolutely amazing.
Sounds like hard work.
It’s a high performance sport. I’m sweating my ass off on stage. I’m so spent, we have nine hours of rehearsals a day and after that I’m just completely destroyed.
What aspect of an actor’s life would most people be surprised by?
How much work it is. Don’t get me wrong it’s great, but when it doesn’t quite come off you have put so much passion, love and time into it for nothing. That’s very bad. There is so much research involved when you play a character like Don Carlos in Schiller’s play, and then you have to get your head round the Spanish Civil War, you need all that historical knowledge. It really depends on what you play. If you play an assassin you have to read up on all kinds of assassinations and interviews to make it beautiful, to know what you’re playing. Of course, you will always try to pull some part of yourself out there as well, but that quickly gets boring. So there’s a lot of research to do to try and represent somebody else.
Which historical Austrian figure other than Egon Schiele would you be interested in playing?
Kokoschka, for contrast. He was a painter too but he stage-managed his life to the last, he was a brute. I find him interesting and he’s also much further away from the way I naturally behave.