Franz Rogowski may have started his acting career as a struggling unknown, but in recent years, he has become an in-demand art house star. The 37-year-old German actor has received critical acclaim for his performances in films such as Ira Sachs’ “Passages” alongside Ben Whishaw and Adèle Exarchopoulos, Giacomo Abbruzzese’s “Disco Boy,” and Giorgio Diritti’s “Lubo,” which is set to compete at the Venice Film Festival.
Rogowski attributes his breakthrough moment to 2018, a year in which he had two films in competition at prestigious festivals: Christian Petzold’s “Transit” and Thomas Stuber’s “In the Aisles.” It was also the year he was named one of the European Shooting Stars, a recognition that further solidified his rising status in the film industry.
Before 2018, Rogowski had been steadily building a reputation in Germany. He made his feature debut in Jakob Lass’ 2013 film “Love Steaks,” where he portrayed an inarticulate masseur at a German luxury hotel. He then showcased his acting prowess in Sebastian Schipper’s 2015 one-shot thriller “Victoria,” playing a nearly mute ex-con with a penchant for extreme violence. He even acted alongside Isabelle Huppert in Michael Haneke’s “Happy End” in 2017, delivering his performance in German, with dialog dubbed in later.
However, it was his roles in “Transit” and “In the Aisles” that introduced him to the art house world as a romantic lead. In “Transit,” Rogowski played a man trying to escape occupied France who falls in love with the wife of the man whose identity he has stolen. The chemistry between Rogowski and his co-star, Paula Beer, was so compelling that they were cast as a mythical star-crossed couple in another film, “Undine.”
“In the Aisles” showcased Rogowski’s versatility as he portrayed a man with a dark past who finds love in an unexpected place – between the shelves of a mega-market. The film was a critical success, and Rogowski’s talent started to gain attention.
Rogowski describes 2018 as a turning point in his career, as it was the first time he had to navigate the world of film promotion, doing interviews, and walking red carpets. While he initially struggled with finding clever things to say, he has since become more comfortable with the promotional aspect of his job.
One of Rogowski’s recent projects, “Passages,” allowed him to embrace a more mainstream audience. He played the charming but chaotic Tomas, a German filmmaker living in Paris who embarks on an affair with a young French woman, triggering a crisis in his marriage. The film, directed by Ira Sachs, features explicit and steamy sex scenes, which Rogowski explains are an integral part of the psychological drama and love story.
His latest film, “Lubo,” directed by Giorgio Diritti, takes Rogowski in a different direction. Set in 1939, the film follows the story of Lubo Moser, a Yenish nomadic street artist who seeks revenge after his children are taken by the police as part of a national program of eugenics. Rogowski had to learn lines in three languages for the film and hopes to shed light on the forgotten history of the Yenish people.
Rogowski’s journey in the film industry hasn’t been without its challenges, but he remains committed to his craft. As a former dancer, he has relied on his body to express himself, but he is also becoming more comfortable using words to convey his thoughts and emotions.
Reflecting on his career and his early experiences as a struggling artist, Rogowski realizes how far he has come. From performing as a clown on the streets of Locarno to having his first film premiere at the prestigious festival, he has seen the transformative power of passion and perseverance.
While Rogowski has found success in the art house world, he has yet to make his mark in Hollywood. Nonetheless, his talent and dedication continue to shine through in his performances. As he continues to take on challenging roles and collaborate with acclaimed directors, there is no doubt that Franz Rogowski’s star will continue to rise.