The ‘star quality’ of Thekla Reuten

In mourning drama narcosis there are some hard scenes in which strugglingwidow Merel bluntly pushes her young children away from her. When directorMartijn de Jong saw during the casting for his film how actress Thekla Reutenturned down an emotional request from her film son, he knew that his leadactress was sitting in front of him. “You saw that she rejected her child, butalso that there was a bubbling volcano under it, love that held her characterback.”

Director Elbert van Strien cast Reuten as the lead actress for hisphilosophical horror film marionette (2020) for adding “human warmth” to itslead character who is “essentially a” control freak is.”

Triple Golden Calf winner Thekla Reuten (47) has a penchant for strong,independent women with a scratch on their soul, she said in an interview – shecan give these kinds of characters a remarkable layering. Although she ensuresthat she is not only associated with traumatized, hard aunts and heavy dramaby taking on very different roles. That’s how she played two years ago_marionette_ a psychiatrist who loses his grip on reality, but in the sameyear also a maladjusted, adolescent teacher in a comedy series tessa and acartoon character-like villain in the hit series Warrior Nun on Netflix.

Oscar nominations

Early on in her acting career, Reuten starred in films that were nominated forthe Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Everyone famous! (2000) and TheTwins (2002). She may be able to add a third title to this soon: _narcosis_is the Dutch Oscar entry.

How does Reuten win her very diverse roles? The basis is her acting talent,but in addition, the actress is a huge perfectionist and she preparesmeticulously for castings and recordings, say Dutch directors who have workedwith her. Van Strien: „For marionette she wanted to discuss in detail allthe meanings and subtext of her role and the story.” According to thedirector, her analytical approach does not lead to Reuten getting “too much inher head”. She can act better ‘in the moment’, so she knows when to use whichemotions to make characters believable.

Reuten also did research outside the script to develop Merel’s character, saysMartijn de Jong. In narcosis her lover disappears after a professional dive,his body is never found. “Thekla did their own research to understand therisks involved in diving. In addition, she spent endless amounts of time withthe clothing designer, for example looking for boots that ‘matched’ hercharacter. Or she went to stay in the house she had renovated with her husbandin the movie. She really wanted to feel ‘the history’ of her character withthe place where it takes place.”

Sporadically, Reuten’s perfectionism also works against her, De Jong explains.For example, if the children with whom the actress had to play were upsidedown on the couch because they themselves were not in the picture. “Theklafound something like this difficult, for her the correct setting and actorswho provide good counterplay are important to get ‘in the moment’.”

Also read: the review of Narcosis (●●●●)

Understated game

From early in her career, Reuten has played small and large roles in manyinternational projects, such as opposite George Clooney in thriller TheAmerican (2010) and starred in Red Sparrow (2018) with Jennifer Lawrence.__ __She has also been cast in German and Italian films and series and iscurrently in a project of the Russo brothers, known for superhero films forMarvel.

How does the actress realize those international ambitions? “There are manygood actors around, but it’s about getting you on the lists of castingdirectors,” explains Van Strien. „Since the Oscar nomination for _The Twins_in 2004, Thekla has both a US and UK agent who have access to majorinternational productions.” In addition, she speaks fluent languages ​​such asEnglish, Italian or German and is difficult to pin down in terms of age andbackground, so she can be used for many purposes. Reuten’s father, a Dutchpriest from Heerlen, got to know her mother, the daughter of Catholic Italianswho had emigrated from Tuscany, in Amsterdam.

According to Menno Meyjes, who directed Reuten in The dinner (2013) and the_Reunion_ (2015), in which she plays women who are more dangerous than theyappear at first sight, the actress has a ‘starquality’ factor. “She pulls thecamera towards her; you keep looking at her.” What helps is that, according toMeyjes, Reuten dares to play modestly. “That is only possible if you havetalent and that talent has been continuously rewarded. As a result, self-confidence grows and you know as an actor: it will be fine. That is differentfrom players who constantly think: ‘Now I have to make it happen’.”

In conversations about narcosis the actress also talks with remarkablesobriety and self-assurance about her character’s psychic abilities; Merel canvisit the dead. De Jong: “Irrespective of whether this is really possible ornot, Thekla has found that clairsentience can help people after a death, soshe did not want it to be portrayed as laughing. This may be partly due to itsItalian roots, in southern European countries mysticism is an easier part oflife and death.”

Van Strien also noticed that Reuten’s religious roots were an advantage in histhriller in which the supernatural plays a major role. “Because of theCatholicism in her life, she had a lot of connection to the deeper,existential questions her character struggles with.”