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‘Dark’ Star Oliver Masucci Takes on Real-Life ‘Visionary’ in ‘Herrhausen – The Banker and the Bomb’: ’What We Were Told About His Death Can’t Be Right’ (EXCLUSIVE)

‘Dark’ Star Oliver Masucci Takes on Real-Life ‘Visionary’ in ‘Herrhausen – The Banker and the Bomb’: ’What We Were Told About His Death Can’t Be Right’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Alfred Herrhausen, born in 1930, was the chairman of Deutsche Bank. But to the team behind German series “Herrhausen – The Banker and the Bomb,” premiering at Series Mania, he was a “visionary.”

“He was a humane banker, always looking into the future. What you see in this show is a person who tries to do something new and others prevent him from doing it. They say: ‘We have never done it before.’ He says: ‘Well, that’s the definition of the word ‘new,’” says actor Oliver Masucci.

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The show, written by Thomas Wendrich, premieres the trailer in exclusivity with Variety.

Before taking on Herrhausen, Masucci gained prominence thanks to Netflix’s “Dark.” Next, he will be seen in the BBC and CBS Studios show “King and Conqueror” alongside Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as William the Conqueror.

“When we think of bankers now, we think of absolute capitalists. But he kept saying we needed to shift our perspective. We needed to think about other countries, especially ones that are struggling, and get them to the point where we can trade with them. He was very aware of the rest of the world,” he adds.

Herrhausen’s ideas to provide debt relief to the world’s poorest countries and broker a government-backed loan to the Soviet Union put him on magazine covers – they also made him persona non grata. He was assassinated in 1989, killed by a roadside bomb. No one has been charged with the murder.

“It happened three weeks after the Wall came down. Everyone was in absolute euphoria and suddenly – BANG – he was killed. I decided that what we were told about his death can’t be right. It was hushed immediately. The third generation of RAF [Red Army Faction, far-left militant group suspected of the killing] didn’t have the power to do that,” says Gabriela Sperl, who produced for Sperl Film. The show was commissioned by ARD, with Fremantle handling global sales.

Before, Sperl tried to turn his story into a film.

It didn’t happen, because his wife didn’t want to have anything to do with the media. Then, years later, a friend told me: ‘My godmother is best friends with her.’ That’s how it started.”

“The main thing that surprised us was that there was nothing about him in the archives. Everything had been removed. We reached out to the US as well, and they sent us an email, explaining – in 35 paragraphs – why we will never, ever get anything. I thought: ‘Wow. This guy was so important that everything is still packed away’.”

“We don’t even know who was RAF’s third generation. Did they even exist? Who financed them? The West, and the Americans, also had an interest in assassinating him. We have correspondence between him and Kissinger, and he was clearly warning Herrhausen against advancing with the Russians,” adds Masucci.

“Nietzsche said that we lost a century of builders. They were putting a stone on top of a stone to build houses that would last. Now, it’s the age of actors – they just look at themselves. Herrhausen, for me, was still trying to build a future.”

Julia Koschitz, Sasha Nathan, David Schutter, Ursula Strauss, August Zirner, Lisa Vicari also star.

Following his death, The Los Angeles Times wrote: “His assassination deprives New Europe of insight shaped by politics and philosophy, as well as finance.”

But there was another side to him too. “I was attracted by his complexity. He had a moral compass, which you could agree with or not, but he was also after power. It’s easy to identify with this kind of inner struggle,” notes director Pia Strietmann, admitting that instead of focusing on the show’s period setting, they wanted “fast pace and modern feeling.

“He’s not your normal hero. We try to peek inside of his head, especially regarding this danger that’s lurking around. I wanted us to feel empathy for him, but I didn’t want us to fall in love with him.”

“We try to provide answers, even though we don’t have all the facts. Two weeks after I agreed to direct it, the war on Ukraine started. Now, I think people will instinctively get what we are talking about. And what this man talked about.”

“We have this guy who’s guided by his hubris and it makes him stumble. This juxtaposition of good and bad in one person was just fascinating,” agrees Sperl.

“He is a narcissist, which makes him very modern, and at the same time he notices things others don’t even see. He kept saying to people: ‘You have to think faster.’”

“The assassination of Alfred Herrhausen reverberated around the world and remains one of Europe’s biggest unsolved true crime murder cases,” says Jens Richter, CEO commercial and international at Fremantle, calling him a “highly influential shapeshifter in finance, as well as politics.”

“He initiated loans to the USSR, helped refinance Poland and Hungary. Herrhausen facilitated a revolution during these times of dramatic changes between the East and West, which is shockingly relevant for today.”

“Unsurprisingly, he had many enemies: Stasi, KGB. The CIA was listening in on his conversations. This is an impressive feat of storytelling of the East and West during one of the biggest geopolitical events of the century.”

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