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Streetdance 2 – Falk Hentschel interview

Streetdance 2

Interview by Rob Carnevale

FALK Hentschel talks about some of the challenges of making Streetdance 2, including getting to grips with his dance moves, role-reversing with co-star Sofia Boutella and getting to perform live in Trafalgar Square with a real crowd.

He also talks about his career to date, including working with Tom Cruise and Justin Bieber.

Q. Is it fair to say this film is superior to other dance films from the US?
Falk Hentschel: You know, superior or not… I never like to look at it in those terms. Any movie that gets made and put out there is a miracle in itself. But I would say it’s very unique because it has a lot of showy movies and all that like other dance films but it’s also very intimate and it’s about sharing the stage and sharing dance, sharing emotions. To me, a lot of dance films have always got to be cool. And we’re doing that as well but I just love the focus on the partnering. How many kids nowadays do you see nowadays where the hand gets held out as an invitation to dance with someone? And they dance together? So, that to me was a big, big difference about this film.

Q. How much did you have to learn and how much did you already know in terms of the dance moves?
Falk Hentschel: It’s funny, Sofia [Boutella] and I were reversing roles. I come from Latin ballroom because I wanted to be an actor but there wasn’t really a chance for it in Germany… not really a way in. And that’s where I was born. But my mum was like: “Well, Patrick Swayze was a dancer first, and John Travolta and Gene Kelly and all of them.” So, I watched Dirty Dancing, became a fan and started with Latin ballroom dancing, mambo, a little bit of salsa. Sofia comes from hip-hop. So, in the movie I had to pretend that I didn’t know anything about Latin and she had to pretend she didn’t know anything about hip-hop.

Q. How old were you when you actually started dancing?
Falk Hentschel: I was 14.

Q. Is that not one of the most vulnerable ages for a lad to be put to dancing?
Falk Hentschel: Yes… it’s a really good point. And I don’t know why that didn’t happen. I was put into a dance school that was an amazing environment to grow up in because we had our clique and we had all the girl-guy experience… all the relationship stuff was happening in there. Growing up, all of our teens were spent there, so it was safe. We were always in that dancing school. We were dancing with one another, had great friendships and were sort of looked after, so I have to say I’m really grateful for that experience. I was always a bit of a dreamer. I always had these visions. But i was never teased as far as the dancing goes.

Q. Being a dancer has led to some amazing experiences, though. You were a dancer for Mariah Carey, weren’t you?
Falk Hentschel: Yeah. That gets blown out of proportion. I worked with Mariah on something. We sort of did feature work for one of her live gigs at G-A-Y here [in London]. But the people I really danced for for a long time were Jamelia on Justin Timberlake’s Justified tour, which was a great experience, and Atomic Kitten and Sugababes – those were the people here. And then I featured in a couple of Britney Spears videos…

Q. What was she like?
Falk Hentschel: Britney Spears? We didn’t really… I wasn’t one of her dancers that was on tour with her. I was just featured in one of her videos. She seems like a sweetheart. I don’t know. But she seemed nice. She was very kind to me.

Q. Did you have any input in the choreography of the film?
Falk Hentschel: Yes because it sort of gets tailored to us, but at the same time no because this type of dance and hip-hop is the one style I’m not very trained in, or sufficient in. If you see Justin Timberlake’s style, that’s more what I do, whereas this comes from the streets. It’s more aggressive. It’s like B-boy and break-dancing, which was really challenging for me. I got my ass kicked!

Q. Have you ever made a total ass of yourself like your character does at the start of the movie?
Falk Hentschel: [Laughs] Every single day, all the time. I just get made fun of all the time. For starters, I come from Germany… that’s where I was born and raised in my early years, so my sense of humour is now slowly changing because I’ve lived in the States for so long. But I don’t have any sometimes. So, you’ll make a joke and I’ll go [in German accent]: “What do you mean?” Just minus the accent. Or I’ll go: “OK but I don’t understand.” So, there’s a bunch of people just laughing because I’m being literal and everyone else is being sarcastic. I’m quite goofy too. That is the side that I protect that I’m fearful of… that’s my side where I’m ‘don’t judge me’.

Q. Were there any goofy moments on set?
Falk Hentschel: [Laughs] Tonnes! One thing I can tell you about is… Sofia had the pants on clearly and I was the wuss. She is as tough as nails… just training-wise, what she went through just physically, I have so much respect for that woman. The joke on-set was that she was always being mean to me and I’m very sensitive. But it was good fun. She’s inspiring to work with… so inspiring. Her commitment was ridiculous – but in a positive way.

Streetdance 2

Q. How was shooting in Trafalgar Square? Did you draw a crowd?
Falk Hentschel: Yeah, we didn’t have to worry about extras. We had a real crowd and that was awesome. It’s the part of filmmaking that I love… that you get to go to those places and do these things that are so cool. I used to live here for three years, so I thought: “How cool is this? We’re play-pretending like little kids in the playground in Trafalgar Square.” We did that in many other great locations.

Q. Are you worried about celebrity in light of landing your first leading role? Will you be trying to avoid being cast for your looks as opposed to your acting talent? And becoming a focus of attention for the media?
Falk Hentschel: To be quite honest, I don’t know what the big stars say about this, but to me it’s part of your job. You should know when you sign up that it can happen. I do think there is a fine balance to walk and I have to be honest, I don’t know. I’m starting this journey and I don’t know where it’s going to lead me. You never know how the public is going to perceive you. I hope that I’ll be successful enough to continue just doing what I love. And if this should ever happen, becoming this public figure, I just think you have to deal with it as kindly and with as much understanding as you can. We’re all in those shoes and I’ve always tried to look and understand where people are coming from. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously – that’s what I always think.

Q. One always feels that there are two levels of bitchiness – the dance world, especially classical, and classical opera. Did you get any of that on-set?
Falk Hentschel: On this particular set, not at all. In dance, I’ve come across it. It happens. But at the same time, where have you not seen it in life? In the workplace, where someone goes ‘oh, that guy’ or ‘oh, that girl’. I think that whatever industry you look at, you can see it in different shapes… in your family, at work, everywhere.

Q. What was it like getting to know Tom Conti?
Falk Hentschel: He’s so funny. He just cracked me up. He has such an ease at work. It’s like he’s not working. He’s very effortless. He’s a legend and he was very, very kind and compassionate to us and I think we got to learn a lot from him. So, that was really wonderful.

Q. You mentioned earlier on watching some classic dance films. How far back do you go?
Falk Hentschel: I love the old classics. I love old, old classics like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly films, such as Singing in The Rain. It’s such an iconic, classic film. And then not so far back, Dirty Dancing is my poster child for dance films.

Q. If you had to pick one clip of any dance routine or move, what would you lift out as your desert island clip?
Falk Hentschel: Not because of the moves but because of what I felt through it was probably Hungry Eyes in Dirty Dancing. It’s just… and that’s the whole thing about the film – and I’m outing myself with this – but I love that dance film! It’s one of those great things where I totally got the relationship between those two. You want to be him, for the guys, and I wanted to be with her.

Q. So, do you have a man crush on Patrick Swayze?
Falk Hentschel: A man crush? [Laughs] I have a lot of respect. I really, really respect him. I did have a crush on Baby.

Q. Do you train every day? Falk Hentschel: No, I hadn’t danced for five years before I got this film. I quit because I couldn’t do both anymore. When I got my first breakthrough in acting, I was really focused on that, so I quit. But then this script came around and I was actually hesitant at first. I thought that was another time. But for all the reasons I loved the film I decided to do it but I haven’t really danced since, other than in the supermarket or whenever I feel like it.

Q. How much did you take away from the experience of working with Tom Cruise in Knight & Day? And also being a part of the Justin Bieber CSI episode?
Falk Hentschel: Yes, yes, I’ve experienced the Bieber phenomenon. I mean, that kid is just ridiculously huge. But working with Tom… he’s very dedicated and it’s really inspiring to watch his focus and his dedication to a project. Justin Bieber… crazy, crazy experience. His fans! We had paparazzi sitting in the cornfields around us. But it was fine. I didn’t know him then. I knew of him but I didn’t know he was Justin Bieber! So, I was like: “I’m working with this kid who sings…” It probably helped.

Q. Was he a nice kid?
Falk Hentschel: Yeah. He’s a sweet kid.

Q. What’s next for you?
Falk Hentschel: I have some scripts on the table but we’re thinking about what the next, right thing is. I can’t really talk about it yet. But also I’m looking into producing a film that I’m going to be starring in. I’ve been writing for a while and I have a couple of production partners. So, we’ll see what happens. You never know. Hopefully, knock on wood, I’ll continue working.

Read our interview with Sofia Boutella