On a stony path towards the summit
Anatole Taubman (47), who has taken part in over 100 international film and TV productions, has been ambassador for Unicef Switzerland for vulnerable children since 2010. In an ADAM interview the actor tells of ups and downs of his own youth.
What has been your most formidable experience to date as a Unicef ambassador?
When you are travelling for Unicef, every experience is remarkable. I was particularly moved by what I saw in Rumania, because it is practically just around the corner from Switzerland. Not much functioned properly even in the capital, Bucharest – and in the country, on the border to Moldova, even less. That had a profound effect on me.
What was most daunting for you?
In the country families live in houses, or rather huts, some with windows without windowpanes, although the temperatures in winter drop below freezing point. A farmer gathering his six children together around the hearth in a self-built mud house. The sad eyes of the children in the orphanages. Some were lucky that they had been saved from the traffickers and organised crime, after their alcohol and drug dependent parents has sold them for a few bottles of vodka and cigarettes. It sends shivers up and down my spine just thinking about it.
What is your job?
As a spokesperson, I campaign worldwide for UNICEF issues and for vulnerable children, as this is a subject close to my heart. My contribution is to sensitize the public to the abuse and the basic needs of children. On field visits I get a first-hand impression of the children‘s situation and UNICEF’s work. In Switzerland, I am actively engaged in events organised by UNICEF Switzerland, such as e.g. Cycling for Children. I am also committed to my position on the children’s jury, which organises the Zurich Film Festival in conjunction with UNICEF.
How do you establish contact with the children?
On all UNICEF field visits you can see how children benefit from the work done by UNICEF, for example in schools or programmes in the area of child protection. The trip always includes communication with the children, who talk of their own personal experiences in life.
How did you deal with your own childhood that was anything but easy?
I believe that it is a lifelong challenge, which I have been addressing intensively for over five years. Following a medical emergency last year, I suddenly stood – Thank God! – at a real crossroads in my private and professional life. I desperately needed to and wanted to change myself and my daily life. My inner peace and my inner harmony have now become my top priority. The path there is steep, sometimes painful and sad, but honest. I am grateful that my wife, friends, family, yoga and Zen help me along the way. However, everyone has to walk their path alone – and it is a good feeling to accept responsibility for oneself.
You now have a flat again in Switzerland. Why have you returned to Einsiedeln?
To put it bluntly, the boarding school at the monastery in Einsiedeln was my first real home. It provided me with a solid grounding and a sense of security. At the age of 10, after my father’s death, my mother had to give me away again, this time for two years to an extended family practicing curative education in the Prättigau region. I then returned to her in Zurich. The 6th primary school year went well but in grammar school the disciplinary problems began. Einsiedeln became my salvation and I seized this last opportunity. This is how it became my home and the prefect Father Kassian a type of replacement papa.
How did that change your life?
Fundamentally and in the long term. I began to enjoy learning and managed to pass my school leaving examination with 5.18 – I have never been as proud of anything in my life! I knew that I wanted to become an actor after Father Kassian dared to let me, who was best known for playing the class clown, play the part of old Shylock in Shakespeare‘s «The Merchant of Venice» at the age of 17 in our theatre course and I was actually taken seriously in the role.
Do you enjoy being able to play someone else?
It definitely used to be a form of escape. What still fascinates me, what makes me burn with passion, is the challenge to breathe life into the figures that are described in the script through words. And the more I find my inner peace, the more authentic I become as an actor. I now understand completely, when a director says: «Anatole, just do nothing. Have confidence in yourself, simply be there, say your text, believe it – and the public can read the rest from your face.»
The son of a Vienna born mother with Slovakian grandparents and an East Prussian father with Russian and Polish grandparents was born on 23rd December 1970 in Zurich. After attending the renowned acting school Circle In The Square in New York he worked very successfully as a model for two years. His multilingualism and his distinctive face that is difficult to categorise made it possible for him to develop into a much sought-after character actor. In Marc Foster‘s James-Bond film «Quantum Of Solace» he played Elvis, the left hand of the main villain. Taubman is in a relationship with the former Circus Knie media spokeswoman and ex «Glanz & Gloria» presenter Sara Hildebrand and has three children from previous relationships. In 2018, he played in «Zwingli» as Zwingli’s best friend Leo Jud and in the 2nd season of the Netflix series «Dark» the nuclear plant owner Bernd Doppler. He will soon be appearing in «L’Apparition» from the cult director Xavier Giannoli.
Photos Copyrights: Lukas Schweitzer, UNICEF Mirjam Kluka,