Dressed in black leather, with a serious look and his hair pulled back, he stands in front of me. There is nothing of der Tod, whom he plays onstage at the Theater an der Wien, about him. His look is too lively and his "hello, how are you" too friendly.
That's today. At 18, he thought about suicide. During his Zivildienst, in youth psychiatry. Uwe: "Because of my work, I saw my own problems as in a mirror. I thought I couldn't stand it." Rescue at the last minute. And wisdom for the rest of his life. "I noticed that every human being has his meaning. Everybody has something he must do."
Something you get rewarded or punished for. Uwe: "I was Buddhist for some time. It's logical to me that everything you do comes back to you." Now is time for reparation. "I hate injustice and brutality. Probably I've been a bad person in another life."
His eyes flash from so much intensity. And the joker in his actual being is definitely his artistic talent. "I always give 100%. When I notice, yes, that's good, I'm satisfied. Then it is right--for the audience as well." And for Buddha.
The sandwich on his plate is hardly paid any attention. As if every daisy was his personal source of delight, middle child Uwe (grown up between an elder sister and a younger brother) remembers his youth on the small family farm in the Ruhrgebiet. Turkeys, pigs, geese, his father's dachshund breeding, and the hen with her rooster make me forget the solid café atmosphere. "We had a large paddock behind the house. Lots of green. I had no favourite animal, but the rooster did allow only me to feed him." And the dogs slept in his bed. How romantic.
Out of so much nature, clearly a rebel developed. Against nuclear power plants, injustice, drugs, and other things. Uwe sang in the band Saitensprung. "Protest songs." Until he noticed that this was just indulging in self-adulation. "You sing your soul out of your body. And actually nobody listens." This was not the only disillusioning realisation. Considering his stoned band members, he doubted their political engagement: "No dialogue. I was already asking myself, am I missing something?"
With his inevitable 100% he ended the whole thing. Free for something new. And it was his ballet teacher who gave him the kick needed to make this change. She secretly applied in his name for an acting school in Berlin. He belonged to the chosen few from 600 candidates. Two years of training followed.
According to Buddha it is logical: the one who gives good will receive good. Uwe Kröger consequently landed on the sunny side of life.
Out of "self-protection" Uwe kept youth psychiatry open in his mind as a secure fallback. "I thought no matter what experiences I have, I can always go back." Sounds new somehow. Elsewhere you mostly hear of those who had already started conquering the theatre world at a very young age.
No doubt, meanwhile Uwe is--and definitely not against his will--a star. "I say that's not a profession, but a state." Period. But still: "I take full advantage of it. Because I don't do things halfway."
Again this "all or nothing". Only the sandwich remains nearly 100% on the plate.
He says he is not the dear, smiling Uwe most people think he is. "When I have to pull a girl away from my dressing room door, I could hit her." Soft shell, hard kernel? "You have to distinguish. With 12-year-olds, I smile, give an autograph and send them away." They are still amusing at that age.
Actually he cultivates rather unusual manners with his fans. Even astounding ones. "Somebody approaches me, tells me she saw the show and wants to talk to me. I'm open for everything." And this exchange of views regards--believe it or not--his work. Another day, it's a young, ambitious girl who wants to become a journalist. And she's practicing with Uwe. "She runs a fan club. After a long struggle I gave her the number of my mobile phone. I liked her plain determination."
The cute guy obviously doesn't have much to do with the dark sides of life. Even the full performance calendar, training, and tiresome fans do not make him gloomy or grumpy. Definitely not--100%.
Huge question mark? "If I could really relax for a day, it would presumably take me a week to get into it again." There remains only one conclusion: in a former life he must have been extraordinarily lazy. And how he is making it good: "Life is brutish, isn't it? It would be no fun otherwise."
The sandwich is still untouched. But next on to the topic of women. "Women have this lightness of being. They dare much more than men, trying something new and taking responsibility for it." He prefers doing without the macho behaviour and the complexes of some men. "Most men suffocate from unhealthy self-doubt."
Uwe stands by his vanity. And feels only lightness in being. 100%.