The woman who wasn't there netflix
interviewJeanne Goursaud and the Netflix series "Barbarians" The Germanic Greta Thunberg
“Thusnelda was anything but a chick!” Jeanne Goursaud transforms herself into the famous Cheruscan princess in the Netflix series “Barbarians” and takes on the Romans.
Berlin - In the year 9 AD, the Teutons lure three Roman legions into an ambush and bring the empire a devastating defeat. In the Netflix series version, which starts on Friday, October 23, Thusnelda, the wife of Hermann the Cheruscan, is fighting on the front line in the historic battle in the Teutoburg Forest. It is played by the Franco-German Jeanne Goursaud.
Ms. Goursaud, if you paid attention in history class, you will probably find your way around the world of the "Barbarians" series faster, right?
We'll certainly have gone through the battle in the Teutoburg Forest at some point, but not much has stuck with me. I had to read up on the subject again. And while I was training for the role of Thusnelda in the gym, I always watched the Netflix documentary series “The Roman Empire” on the side. It's about a different era, but it still helps.
Having been good at Latin also helps. After all, the Romans speak Latin in the series.
I never had Latin. But the Cheruscan Thusnelda doesn't speak Latin either. In this respect, that was actually an advantage for me as an actress: I didn't have to pretend I didn't understand what the Romans were saying.
The name Thusnelda, on the other hand, is also known to all those who have never paid attention in Latin or in history.
Oh yes, although historically the name has been used quite wrongly. Thusnelda was anything but a chick. I think the Romans are to blame for that. They wanted the name to have a bad connotation, after all, Thusnelda was an enemy. The Romans made sure that the name could be turned into a swear word.
Can you identify with Thusnelda?
When I have something in my head, when I am convinced of something, then I do everything to achieve the goal. I think we have that in common.
Like Thusnelda, would you sacrifice an eye for something you believe in?
Of course not. Nor would I literally walk over dead bodies like them to get what I want. But translated into the present day, what Thusnelda did back then would mean that if you are convinced of something, you go out on the street, take part in demonstrations, raise your voice and don't sit at home in silence, but rather tries to actively change something. And I think that's right. The methods of that time were a little more drastic. The Roman Empire demanded the last of the Cheruscans, made them pay far too high tributes. I think the anger that Thusnelda has arises from her helplessness and from her feeling that her people are being treated unfairly.
The fact that Thusnelda is a woman doesn't make it easier for her in her fight for justice.
Unfortunately, in history it has almost always been the case that women could not exert any direct influence, but needed a man in order to achieve something. There is this scene in the series in which Thusnelda's mother says to her: As a man, choose a prince, a man with power that you can direct. I think that the figure of Thusnelda is very strong, but that she doesn't bend over, that she doesn't give up, that she ultimately wants to change the world. In our story, you can do that too. I think she is reminiscent of Greta Thunberg, who is so young and a girl, but suddenly finds a hearing all over the world because she stands up for her convictions.
“Barbarians” not only tells a modern story here. If you look at Thusnelda's relationship to her father Segestes, it is reminiscent of the dysfunctional families that one knows from current family dramas.
We are so well connected with each other today, there are so many opportunities to exchange ideas, and yet we are constantly talking past each other. I think that's something that has always been around. Who knows what would have happened had Thusnelda and Segestes had a sensible exchange of her convictions and goals.
In fact, Segestes later betrays his daughter. A few years after the Varus Battle, Thusnelda was taken to Rome as a prisoner in a triumphal procession.
Historically, however, we only know that she later died in captivity by the Romans. Nobody knows what else has happened. That means there is still a lot of material for further "barbarian" seasons.
“Barbarians” is reminiscent of series such as “Vikings” or “Game of Thrones”, in which conflicts are always carried out with greater brutality. Do you also watch such series privately?
The only genre I don't even watch is horror. In fact, I usually don't like it when it gets bloodthirsty either. The shoot hardened me a bit though. When an assistant transports a chopped off head from A to B and calls out to you on the way: “You want to see?”, Such paint-smeared props lose their horror.
And which series do you prefer to turn on when you come home from filming?
When I'm shooting, I usually don't have the head to watch anything because I'm so busy with the film I'm making. When I'm not filming, I'm that series guy who, after watching the first episode, hangs out all night to watch all the other episodes as well - if the series is good. For example, recently I liked “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “Killing Eve” or “Big little Lies”.
What they have in common is that the stories focus on idiosyncratic female characters. Are there too few stories with such women?
Absolutely. I think that more films about women should definitely be made by women for women. Now that's not to say that I have anything against stories that are told by men and that are about men. But I think more stories should be told that women have as strong protagonists. And for me, a strong woman is not a woman who has masculine attributes, but a woman who stands by herself, who is convinced of something and follows this conviction - like Thusnelda. A woman who cries is not a weak woman. Even a man who cries is not weak. For me, strength is when you stand by yourself.
Jeanne Goursaud and "Barbarians"
Jeanne Goursaud was born in Pinneberg in 1996, became the face of the cosmetics brand “bebe young care” in 2012, and starred in the RTL comedy series “Der Lehrer” and Michael Herbig's “Bullyparade - The Film”.
Following the example of the fantasy series “Game of Thrones”, “Barbaren” relies on still rather unknown and fresh faces. In addition to Jeanne Goursaud, David Schütter (Folkwin) and Laurence Rupp (Arminius) play leading roles. All six episodes of the first season of "Barbarians" are available from this Friday on Netflix.
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