To say that actress Johanna Wokalek is accomplished is an understatement. The award-winning actress has made a name for herself in film but also on the stage in both theater and opera. She’s portrayed everyone from a woman impersonating a man who becomes pope to an international terrorist. With all of that range and variety, Wokalek is the perfect actor to help guide German learners. So this month, let’s learn German with the films of Johanna Wokalek!
About Johanna Wokalek
Johanna Wokalek was born on March 3, 1975, in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. After attending the Friedrich-Gymnasium Freiburg, she moved to Vienna to pursue her passion for drama at the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar.
Although we may know Wokalek for her film work, she clearly has a great love for the stage. For sixteen years, she was a permanent member of the Vienna Burgtheater. In addition to the theater, she’s also pursued operate. She made her operatic debut at the famed Salzburg festival in 2014 and has continued to make appearances in operas.
Wokalek broke through in film in the early 2000s after a series of award-winning roles. Her starring role in 2003’s Hierankl won her the Bavarian Film Prize, the German Film Prize, and the Adolf Grimme Gold Prize.
Wokalek is married to conductor Thomas Hengelbrock and the couple has a son.
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Der Baader Meinhof Komplex)
During the late 1960s and 1970s, a leftist militant group called the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorized Germany. Journalist Stefan Aust wrote a book on the group, documenting their history and exploits. The book serves as a basis for the 2008 film from director Uli Edel. The film is full of German stars: Moritz Bleibtreu and Martina Gedeck portray RAF group leaders Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, respectively, while Wokalek is group founder and Baader’s partner Gudrun Ensslin. The cast also includes Stipe Erceg as Holger Meins and Tom Schilling as Josef Bachmann, both RAF members. While not completely historically accurate (it is a film, after all), it’s still a fascinating look at an important time in Germany’s post-WWII history when revolution was a hot topic.
The Coming Days (Die kommenden Tage)
Director Lars Kraume’s 2010 film The Coming Days, or Die kommenden Tage in German, focuses on a family drama set in a dystopian near-future running from 2012 until 2020. Wokalek and Bernadette Heerwagen star as sisters Cecilia and Laura while Vincent Redetzki portrays their brother Philip. But the sisters are not convinced that Philip is biologically their brother. During a war in the Gulf, politics become heated. The sisters and their boyfriends unwittingly become involved in an international terrorist organization. August Diehl stars as Cecilia’s boyfriend Konstantin while Daniel Brühl portrays Laura’s boyfriend Hans. The cast also includes actor Jürgen Vogel.
The Pursuit of Unhappiness (Anleitung zum Unglücklichsein)
In the 2012 romantic comedy The Pursuit of Unhappiness (Anleitung zum Unglücklichsein), Wokalek stars as Tiffany. She portrays a superstitious young woman who believes that for every good thing that happens a bad thing must also occur. The concept comes from a 1983 book of the same title by Austrian psychologist Paul Watzlawick.
Practice practice practice! Discover other great German language actors and actresses previously featured.
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