The Greatest #8 Interview: Niels Schneider

The Hero Issue



It is really hard to have the straight feeling of honesty. A rarity, that leaves you both bewildered and comfortable. Bewildered, because you wonder how it could be possible to be so easily direct and simple through an interview; comfortable because you immediately get who you are talking to, although you have never met him before. Simplicity and frankness, that’s how I would describe the chat I had with Niels Schneider. The way he describes his personal point of view on life and his attitude towards his work as an actor, reveals intimacy and a deep self-consciousness. He reveals his hero in a way so pure that you can’t do anything except from approving and dreaming about being lucky enough to share the same idea. Welcome to a distorted psychoanalysis session, probably one of the trickiest compliments you could receive about an interview. 

Niels Schneider

If you were born in a different family, do you think that you would have turned out to be an actor anyway? 

My uncle, a theatre actor and my father, a dancer and an actor, have for sure passed down to me the passion for theatre and acting. They had been the engine that set in motion a preexisting dream and desire. Thereafter, as always, you took control over that dream and it evolves spontaneously into you. The environment where you grow up is fundamental for our choices. They reveal and convey the positive and negative side of what happens to us within our environment. 

Today is necessary to be able to isolate yourself somehow from routine. Which is the situation, thing, or gesture that makes you escape and relax the most? 

To be honest, I’ve never had the perception of routine. I’ve avoided it since I ended the studies. Everything I do, I do it to escape from the threat of routine. 

Let’s try to make a sum up, a sort of evaluation of those moments of difficulty, when we feel lost, tired and defeated. In those moments, as first reaction, sometimes a feeling overcome the other: it can be the desire of surrender and escape or the incentive to challenge ourselves and beat what is defeating us. What about you? 

Humor and self-irony is my weapon against feeling defeated. Humor is able to put a distance between things that I find necessary. Hence, I have to say; sometimes I see things better from a distance. I can evaluate them better for what they are. On the other hand, sometimes I fall apart, as all the people do. I try doing my best with my personal weapons, that’s probably the best answer. 

Niels Schneider

If I ask you to choose a character to face a tricky passed day in your life, who would you chose?

I guess someone who gave me a cheap shot (laugh).

When you were a child, who was the person who first took the place as an idol in your mind? Today, as an adult, what explanation would you give to that choice you made years ago?

Indeed, I have to say that this interview is a distorted psychoanalysis session! Well, like a lot of other kids, my first idol was my father. Today, if I develop the mourning of my idol, I probably love him even more. I see and love him for what he is, free from the childhood illusion. I am happy because he has never disappointed me.

I have always used to doubt those people who told me to refuse an interview to a person that I considered an idol. Those people used to tell me that I would be disappointed for sure. In the end, after years, I had to say that those people were right. From your point of view, translating this advice into your own job, do you agree or not? 

From my point of view, the issue is: there is always a kind of gap. To me, this deep gap is between the prefabricated image that I can have of the people I’ll work with before I meet them and the moment when I start to share everyday with them. I’m sorry that you’d been a bit betrayed by your idols. About this bad side, for my experience, some of them have disappointed me too, while others have been over my expectations. Both artistically and personally speaking. For instance, when three years ago I met Robert De Niro, everyone tried to discourage my excitement. They told me it would have been demoralizing and that he wouldn’t have been kind at all. Well, I have to say that it was quite the opposite! Moreover, I have to say that I was really happy to prove that the gossip was wrong.

Niels Schneider

As a spectator, I have to admit that one of the things that I find more fascinating in a movie is the soundtrack. I think that it is one of the most powerful things; it can totally change the perception of the audience. Considering yourself as a spectator, have you ever imagined a movie scene with a different soundtrack from the original one?

I am really into music and totally into the soundtrack issue. However, I had fun assembling some movie’s scenes with a different soundtrack. For instance, once I put together some sequences from “The silence of the lambs” with some songs by The Beach Boys. It came out as another movie a five stars comedy.

Being you an actor, do you have a song, an instrumental piece or just a sound that you’d like to hear as an accompaniment in a movie scene while you are performing?

Music is really inspiring to me and is absolutely able to condition my mood. For each project I have a song that I listen to in an obsessive way. In this moment I’m listening a lot to Future Islands’ music. There is an inspiring energy in their sound. I often listen to some songs in order to put me in the right mood. In the recording studio you have to wait and take your time. Suddenly iTunes became my best friend.