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‘This is a film to make us unsafe in the cinema. As we should be’: Sandra Hüller and Christian Friedel on The Zone of Interest

The German actors play Hedwig and Rudolf Höss in Jonathan Glazer’s brilliant new film about the Auschwitz commandant and his wife. They discuss the challenging shoot, ancestral guilt – and what persuaded them to take on the roles in the first place

Can you put a face to the banality of evil? How about two? On a bright London morning, Sandra Hüller and Christian Friedel are back from having their picture taken. The German actors are here to discuss The Zone of Interest, the film they have made with the director Jonathan Glazer (Under the Skin), loosely inspired by Martin Amis’s 2014 novel of the same name. But for a moment, we talk instead about Friedel’s liking for porridge; how Hüller, by contrast, doesn’t eat this early. And they smile and pause, aware of what comes next.

In The Zone of Interest, Hüller and Friedel play a couple exhumed from history: Hedwig and Rudolf Höss, who, during the second world war, raised five children in a sturdy villa with a pretty flower garden. It stood over a wall from the death camp at Auschwitz, where Rudolf was commandant. So the chit-chat ends.

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