The third international talent is the sensational Michaela Saba. While the event in which Amazon Prime Video presented us the highlights of the next few months, the Austrian, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, radiated so much sympathy, energy, and joie de vivre that the entire location and everything else shone in a very special light.
Actually, Michaela was very successful as a figure skater and gymnast. Nevertheless, she was drawn from the ice and the gymnastics mat to the stage. While she was still studying acting, she acted in the German-language premiere of God Waits at the Station at the famous Volkstheater in Vienna and in Love and Information at the renowned Akademietheater.
Even after her studies, the Viennese stages, such as the Vienna Burgtheater, remained Michaela’s second home. Until the ORF finally discovered her for the series Schnell ermittelt (Schnell Investigates). After that, Michaela played in the Tatort* episode Schock, the Rosamunde Pilcher film Pralinen zum Frühstück (Pralines at Breakfast), and Das Traumschiff (The Dream Ship) episode Morocco.
*Tatort (means: crime scene) has been Germany’s most successful crime series since 1970.
INTERVIEW WITH MICHAELA SABA
The film Sachertorte (Sacher Cake) is about love at first sight. Do you believe in it and what does love mean to you?
I believe in love at first encounter. It gets a bit more difficult when it’s about the first glimpse. For me, love means security, trust, growing together, learning from one another, listening another a lot, and – very importantly – a good dose of tenderness.
I find it difficult to summarize all of this at first glance. Spread over a few hours, however, it can happen that you touch on these topics and perhaps develop a deep connection. Anyone who experiences something like this is certainly one of the truffles among the lucky ones.
The film Sachertorte takes place in Vienna, which you are very familiar with. You grew up in the city and know its theaters very well. What else do you associate with Vienna and what do you think visitors should definitely experience on-site?
If you want to take Vienna and the Viennese to heart, a visit to the Prater (famous amusement park) is a must. Not just because of the Speibmaschinen (fairground rides; speib = spew) that I’m infatuated with, but because of the flair.
You can get a taste of feudal air on the green main avenue and watch the turtles sunbathing by the pond. After your stomach has been shaken up strongly on the carousels, I recommend finding a seat and a Kukuruza (corncob) in the Würstelprater. From here, the hustle and bustle can be observed excellently. After that, a few laps on one of the outdoor ice rinks should not be missed.
Best souvenir: brown bread. It’s particularly delicious. So, find one or two relevant addresses, get some bread and enjoy it. Pro tip: Leave your cell phone in your pocket. Switch from the big, busy streets to the small, winding ones. And, finally, alternately ask around and let yourself be carried away. A little adventure is guaranteed.
Prime Video is one of the market leaders among international streaming services. What are your hopes for the joint production?
I really enjoyed shooting with Amazon Prime. They live team spirit and that’s exactly my thing. In the best-case scenario, we’ll get together for many other projects.
Curse and/or blessing? As a theater actress, you surely love the boards that mean the world. So, how do you see the development that many people are more and more entertained by home entertainment? What do theaters and cinemas have to do to remain attractive to the online generation?
Attracting more and more viewers to cinemas and theaters is a complex problem with different core areas. Unfortunately, no one can solve it with a few marketing moves. And, unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for that either. However, I think that a lasting solution requires a group of bright minds who together form a kind of artistic revolution factory. The whole system could be overturned and repositioned so that not only the money but also the stream of viewers flows again.
The movies are wonderful. You have done figure skating and rhythmic gymnastics. You have even competed in championships. What prompted you to switch to acting? Was there a particular trigger or film that particularly influenced or inspired you?
Acting has accompanied me my whole life. Just recently I was asked what my first paying job was. And it was actually an acting role. I was about 9 years old and had a cameo appearance on the Tom Turbo series. If you like, my trademarks in sports were my wild curls and expressiveness. I’m terribly curious and I’ve always loved to transform, let myself go, just float or connect everything and create something new. Wherever I could live this out, I was to be found and probably always will be.
Only the emphasis has shifted somewhat. There is a short story about this. I had just received my high school diploma. The tall, gaunt physics professor with a white shirt, light blue jeans and thick, curly, light-blond hair comes towards me in long strides. He says:
So, Michi, and what are you doing with your life now?
I answer, hopping from one foot to the other:
I’m going to Broadway and before I’ll do a dance course at Julliard.
He, totally amazed:
Huh? WHAT? In my first physics lesson, you said to me that you wanted to be an actress and study at the Max Reinhardt Seminar.
Eager to learn, I asked:
What is the Max Reinhardt Seminar?
A short time later I studied acting there. Well, and so I can only say: Thank you, dear Prof!
Good stories often come from dreams. Which dreams guide you?
The only way I can answer that is by quoting my lovely colleague Hilde Dalik:
We tell our children that everyone on earth is one big family.
I dream of infecting each other with this mindset.
The film Sachertorte was released on Prime Video in November. Did you discover a favorite cake during the shooting and which delicacies shouldn’t be missing for you at Christmas time?
When it comes to sweets, I’ve stayed at the level of a five-year-old. Because cake is too noble for me. I want gummy bears, Kipferl (a.k.a. croissants), fruit- and sugar water. And during the Christmas season, nothing beats a punch according to Dad’s recipe with vanilla crescents, Grandma’s style.
From favorite treats to favorite roles. Is there a character or theme that you really want to play one day? And what about desired partners?
I love complex, edgy female characters that unravel entangled situations. I also like playing fragile roles or, on the other end of the spectrum, creating absurdity and chaos. And to top it all off, I like action films that challenge me physically.
My curiosity is very high and there are many people with whom I would like to be in front of the camera. What I wish most now is to play with Renate Reinsve. I would best describe our connection as delicate, raw, profound, and passionate – a firework display, so to speak. I would also like to tell a story about or with this special connection.
Speaking of wishes… What would you like for Christmas and the new year?
That every citizen of the world has a warm meal in front of them.
Text/Interview: Marco Kokkot
Scene Photos: © Amazon Prime Video
Portraits: Marlon Hambrusch