Interview with Susanne Wolff and Sandra Hüller

Why do Sisi and Irma become friends and what do they both expect from this relationship?

SUSANNE WOLFF (Sisi): The two women meet because there has to be a new lady-in-waiting – the previous one can no longer. And on Corfu, where Sisi lives with her other servants, there is a very familiar, intimate atmosphere. The lady-in-waiting Irma enters into this intimacy right from the start – it becomes clear right from the first job interview that Irma has a sense of humor that Sisi likes. That’s the initial spark, Sisi realizes: That could be fun.

And what does Irma expect from Sisi?

SANDRA HÜLLER (Irma): She is initially put in there at the request of her mother – and whatever her mother wants, Irma also wants. At the beginning she is surprised about Elisabeth, but also admires her very quickly. What she’s looking for… I think subconsciously it’s about validation, a mirror, everything she’s missed in her life so far. Irma is not a lonely woman though, at least not for me – she could keep herself busy for hours on anything. The focus on Elisabeth shifts that – suddenly she becomes lonely without Elisabeth.

What do you like about each other’s characters?

SH: Irma admires Elisabeth’s consistency. When Elisabeth wants something, she goes through with it, she does what she wants. This is fascinating for Irma – for me too, by the way! The mood swings are of course exhausting, but listening to yourself all the time is great. Add to that Elisabeth’s cleverness, her style…

SW: I think that’s the same point for me, which can go in two directions: Irma’s dedication, the willingness to look at the world like a newborn baby, the amazement, the joy – to a certain extent, Sisi finds that magical . But at some point it becomes too overwhelming for her. Sisi never asks Irma anything – only at the end of the film, through the letter Irma receives, do we learn a little more about Irma’s childhood, which apparently wasn’t nice.

Do the two have the difficult relationship with their mother in common?

SW: Yes, especially when I remember the shoot… we were very fortunate to shoot in these wonderfully stately walls and we were supposed to wait for our mothers on this sofa. We were allowed to embody a bad mood for the first time and really hang around, both together, that was great fun. In addition, this is one of two scenes in which we were both forced into a real corset. So that we stand at attention when our mothers come. The two of them are like two children in socks.

SH: Yes. But the two did not exchange information about their difficult relationship with their mothers. Both of them deal with it differently – Irma is still subordinate, Elisabeth is not, she is in a more powerful position. Irma is generally uncomfortable with conflicts.

How was your relationship with Sisi before the film?

SW: I can remember the old Sisi films very well. But Frauke urged us not to research further because she wanted to deal with it freely. She didn’t hand us any biographies. Nevertheless, we noticed a few things.

SH: We only found out during the shoot that there was another film about Sisi, “Corsage”. To be honest, I didn’t really care about Sisi before. I knew the old films, but I was more drawn to Romy Schneider’s great portrayal, the way she plays the honesty and vulnerability is really intoxicating. But the films tell a completely different lifespan.