Senta Berger was born on May 13, 1941 in Vienna. She grew up in sparse circumstances and yet the “Sophia Loren from municipal housing” advanced to a superstar in a very short time. After very successful Heimatfilms in Austria, she made the leap to Hollywood at the beginning of the sixties. She later founded a production company with her husband, Michael Verhoeven, and enjoyed success as a theater and television actress alongside film.
Especially with roles like Mona in the television series “Kir Royal”, the “Schnellen Gerdi” or the investigator Dr. Eva Maria Prohacek shapes a new type of female figure on German television: funny and flirtatious, but at the same time resilient and fragile. “I do believe that I’m lucky,” says Senta Berger today. “But I also believethat I’ve learned to make the right decisions at the right time. ”
Ms. Berger, when you think back to your time in Vienna, that is, to your childhood: Is that a good memory or a very bad one?
Senta Berger: No, that’s a very nice memory. I grew up in very small-bourgeois circles. At the border to the cellar child, small apartment, etc. But it was beautiful. I romped around with boys until it was banned because then I turned 15. But I believe that this youth helped me a lot to set the right standards.
Your father was an artist himself. However, he could not live out his profession as a composer and musician….
It wasn’t until much later that I understood that he had missed his life. And that he deliberately didn’t want me to repeat this mistake. That’s why he supported me so much: dance lessons, ballet, piano lessons. As soon as I made any stupid drawing in school, I was already enrolled in the Academy for Performing Arts for a children’s drawing course. He really made everything possible for me. And I felt a deep connection to him. When he was sitting at the piano and playing and I was next to singing. We’ve been a good couple for a long, long time.
How did your first film role come about?
The location was my high school in Hietzing. And the bulletin board read: “Who would like to run as an extra with Isa and Jutta Günther, down the stairs and storm out at the school gate?” I of course, of course. So I signed up there. And then it was the first time that I felt something of this atmosphere during filming. This togetherness. I felt something exciting, shimmering there. Then again and again the director shouts: “And again! And in a good mood.” I thought that was really great.
What memories do you have of your first audition for the entrance exam at the Max Reinhardt Seminar?
For the first time in my life I felt like I was seen from head to toe. It was during those minutes of audition that I became aware of my body for the first time. “What do you have, Fraulein Berger? Can you sing?” – And I couldn’t think of anything. That’s the crazy thing: stage fright makes you mute. I couldn’t think of anything. Back then I could actually sing anything: operettas, chansons, everything. I imitated Ella Fitzgerald. But I sang Nestroy’s Salomé Pockerl “Titus Feuerfuchs”: I only heard the first line and then I kept repeating it: “Yes, the men hams guat, hams guat, hams guat. Yes, the men hams guat, hams guat, hams guat. ” Until someone saw and said: “Thank you, that’s enough.”
Why didn’t you stay in Hollywood?
It was clear to me from the start that I might fit into these American films – but not necessarily. That was the time of upheaval and I felt it very strongly.