Franz Rogowski is proving to be one of the most eclectic, ubiquitous, and singular actors working in international cinema today. He appears to feel at home acting in varying languages such as German, English, Italian, and French. However, arguably the most powerful of all is simply allowing his magnetic, expressive features to do the speaking for him.
His current film, Sebastian Meise’s Great Freedom, was Austria’s International Feature submission, which was shortlisted and, in my opinion, should have been nominated. The powerful work chronicles more than two decades in the life of one gay man who is persecuted because of the horrific Paragraph 175 (anti-gay) law in Germany. Rogowski portrays Hans, a young man who after the allied liberation is carted off from a concentration camp directly to prison to finish his sentence. He is arrested and jailed again and again because of his sexual orientation via the non-linear narrative. But Hans does find love in different forms while in prison and proves to be a survivor.
Rogowski delivers a rich, layered, and hypnotic performance in Great Freedom. His performance is one imbued with ambiguity and nuance. Yet, anyone familiar with his filmography would know that is his norm.
Rogowski has his roots on stage and in dance and street theatre. He first splashed as the disquieted Boxer in Sebastien Schipper’s ambitious one-take film Victoria in 2015. He was Isabelle Huppert’s rebellious, if half-baked, son in Michael Haneke’s Happy End in 2017 and the quiet stock boy in Thomas Stober’s In The Aisles in 2018. He’s collaborated with director Christian Petzold and actor Paula Beer twice: first, on the internationally acclaimed, fascistic thriller Transit (2018) and then the beguiling rom-fantasy-dram, Undine (2020). In 2019, he appeared in Terrence Malick’s exquisite World War II epic A Hidden Life and will be seen in Malick’s upcoming film The Way of the Wind.
In addition, Rogowski has completed Peter Brunner’s Luzifer, a rather astonishing film that defies conventional description about the unique relationship between an unhinged, uber-religious mother (Susanne Jensen) and her mentally off-balanced son.
He is currently filming Passages, an Ira Sach’s film, co-starring Ben Whishaw and Adèle Exarchopoulos about a same-sex couple who’ve been together 15 years and one has an affair–with a woman.
One thing is for certain, Rogowski does not shy away from challenging material.
Awards Daily had the opportunity to Zoom chat with the actor about Great Freedom and his work.
Great Freedom will open theatrically in New York on March 4, 2022, at Film Forum followed by Los Angeles and a national expansion.