Difficult career start
Iris Berben was too beautiful for good roles

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Iris Berben started her acting career around 60 years ago. Her good looks, for which she is admired by many men and women, do not help her. On the contrary, it was more of an “obstacle” to serious roles, says the 73-year-old.

In the search for the “sexiest German”, the “biggest sex bomb” or a “dream woman”, there is one German actress in particular who has been ahead in relevant surveys for decades: Iris Berben. With her always youthful appearance, her relaxed charisma and political commitment, she embodies what many women would like to be and many men would like to have. However, at the start of her career, her attractiveness was not necessarily an advantage, the 73-year-old now reveals.

At the end of the 1960s, attractiveness was “explicitly an obstacle to serious work in our industry,” said the actress on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival. “It was always like this: beauty excludes any form of intelligence, any depth.” Of course there are worse things than being discriminated against because of beauty, Berben knows. But this was the reason why she “loved” her role in the comedy series “Sketchup.” By transforming herself into more than 200 “relatively very, very unattractive people,” she was able to prove her skills as an actress.

In fact, Iris Berben made her breakthrough in 1984 with “Sketchup” alongside Diether Krebs. Since then, she has appeared in almost 100 film and television productions, including “Buddenbrooks” (2008), “Der Vorname” (2018) and “Triangle of Sadness” (2022). The mother of one son has received awards for her achievements as an actress, including the “Golden Camera”, the Adolf Grimme Prize and a Bambi. In 2012, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the international television festival Rose d'Or.


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