‘Stefan de Walle excels in old man roles’, said journalist Bram de Graaf: compliment or insult?
‘I do not quite understand what he means by that. I am, of course, ‘Sinterklaas’ adviser’. But my roles in the film, for example marathonthe play married or the series Anden Hans are not necessarily old men. However, they all suffer a great loss. Such losses are actually part of aging.
†Anden Hans is about a man who is extremely happy at work in a garden center. He’s an old-fashioned man. He likes to drink coffee with his colleagues, to talk. He is very attentive to his customers. Sometimes he even visits them at home. He also has a happy marriage to Marleen, played by Jacqueline Blom. They have their regular rituals.
“Then there will be a reorganization of his work. Hans is called to his office by his boss, with whom he has had a good relationship for years. They have an offers you can not refuse for him, they say. From one moment to the next, his retirement is tampered with. In doing so, they take away his entire identity from him: his sense of purpose, structure. A large void is created, which he has to fill in another way. It does not work at all at first.
‘Like marathon, where Martin van Waardenberg also wrote the script, is a tragicomedy. It’s like ordinary life. It is not always to laugh, shout, roar. But it’s not all misery either. Anden Hans is a royal drama by the common man. His fall and rise.
‘A lot of people recognize themselves in it. We all experience loss in life. Death, illness, divorce. I can identify with Hans. That you have the feeling that everything you get security from suddenly disappears. That the world is going down, but that you gradually find out that there is more ».
Divorce: loss experience or new opportunity?
‘You get a whip around your ears. You lose certainty and self-esteem. Things that I initially thought were major issues turned out to be side issues after my divorce. What exactly, I would rather not say. But you lose people and friendships.
‘The great thing about such a drastic event is that the emptiness is also filled with new things. Other people, contacts and a new partner come in return. You’re alive, let me put it this way. You’re not just moving on. It has also brought me a lot ‘.
Act like a young dog or act old?
“I’m 56 now. There are also benefits to getting older. I used to be overconcentrated before a show. I remember my first big hall performance, Macbeth† After the break, I immediately had to play an emotionally charged scene. I was fully charged for it. To breathe deeply. It blocked. I’m more patient now and more confident. You just have to be there, breathe and say, ‘It’s going to work.’
‘I’m playing in the theater now married, which is about two parents – played by Carine Crutzen and me – who have lost a child, divorced and then meet again after ten years. The more life experience and more losses you have, the better you can empathize with such a role.
“That does not mean it is easy to do. You always burn something of yourself. Carine and I feel very responsible. There are many people in the room who have experienced something bad. If you play it a number of days in a row , as now, it’s tiring. ‘
Actor or carpenter?
‘In primary school, I had a conversation with the headmaster about the Cito test. He asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Actor, I said. “But what if it does not work?” I just want to be an actor, I said. ‘But you have to use high school for that!’ Again, I said I was determined to become an actor. “But what if it really does not succeed?” Well, then be a carpenter, I said. ‘ Laughs: ‘Then I was advised to go to technical school.
‘I did not do it. I have always wanted to shop. If my mom or dad used to be mad at me, I would take the sting with a joke or by pulling a crazy head. I saved myself from such situations by playing a role. I also made people laugh by showing me off. At the final musical in primary school, I felt that I was doing well on stage. After I passed the state exam to get my havo, I finally went to drama school in Arnhem. A teacher then introduced me to the Ro Teatret, where to my amazement I got a permanent contract. ‘
Kees ind bag: push in the back or block the leg?
‘None of them. That bagthe audience was usually not the audience that also visited the theaters. So it did not bother me at all in my stage work. I think I might have missed different roles in my TV work in the beginning. I can imagine that if one is on television with such a character for a number of years, people think: he plays those kinds of roles. It later disappeared. Thank God it is not the case that everyone is alone with me bag employees.
“I do not see it as a breakthrough either. In between all the serious stage work, it was a lot of fun to do. It was a kind of monkey cage. We spent whole summers there on the set in Almere. We had the most fun with Lou Landré, who played Charlie, and Coen van Vrijberghe de Coningh, Johnnie, God rest his soul.
‘Coen died suddenly in 1997 in front of me. I still think about him regularly. There’s a big picture of him on the stairs in my house. And another upstairs in my study. We saw each other more often in those summers than we saw our partners back then. Eventually we really got the idea: We need to make sure we see each other more often outside of the summer. Unfortunately, that should not have been the case.
‘You are incredibly pressured that life can be over in an instant. And how banal and cruel it is. That such a sweet person just disappears from your life. ‘
The main role in marathon: the highlight of your career or not?
‘At least I’m very proud of it. It’s my only starring role in a feature film. I might as well have empathy with that Gerard. He has metastatic cancer of the esophagus, but thinks: I want to leave my family and friends in a good place. I want to run that marathon, win that bet and achieve something amazing once in my life. It’s such a richly written manuscript.
‘My mother’s family from The Hague was a bit like the people in the film. A cake for the birthday. A beer on the table. Drinks, fun. The whole environment was very recognizable to me.
‘It’s like Anden Hans a story about the big little man. It does not matter where you are on the social ladder. We all experience beautiful moments as much as shitty things. Nice to be able to tell Gerard’s story. ‘
Team player or steal the show?
‘Team player. Maybe a little too much. I really like doing something together. Let the other excel. And I’m having trouble arguing. I’m still a bit of the little boy who takes a roundabout to get his will.
‘We once played under the direction of Erik Vos The Cherry Orchard from Chekhov. I was Lopachin, one of the bigger roles. Erik said to me: ‘You have your responsibility as the main character. You must take it! ‘ He thought I should not be too careful, but shake things up. He made me think then. ‘
The stage world: sexist or liberated?
‘Jacqueline Blom, my opponent in Second Hans, said in de Volkskrant that she thinks the theater world is ‘one big sexist world’. I think she would give an extra boost to the discussion and awareness about this in our sector, and that’s good, of course. Luckily, she also said she thinks it’s an amazing world at the same time. I believe that wherever power relations play a role, there may be sexism or unwanted behavior, and that, of course, should not be possible. I myself have experienced it less. It’s probably at least in part because I’m a man. I now see it differently, influenced by the societal debate around #MeToo and other topics. ‘
Drama series Anden Hans can be seen every week on Friday at 9.30 pm on NPO 1. The first of a total of ten episodes was Friday d. 29/4.
marriedproduced by Korthals Stuurman Teaterproduktioner, can be seen in the theater until 21/6.
Stefan de Walle
1965 Born in The Hague
1989 Educated from the Theater School in Arnhem
1993 Debuts on television as Kees Flodder in the popular television series bag
2001 Makes the transition from Ro Teatret to Nationalteatret
2011-current Successor to actor Bram van der Vlugt as the most important ‘adviser’ to Sinterklaas
2012 Leading role as Gerard in marathon
2021 Otto Frank plays in the film My best friend Anne Frank
2022 Plays Hans in series Anden Hans
2022 Plays theater performance married
Stefan de Walle won two Arlecchinos and was nominated twice for a Louis d’Or. He received nominations for a Golden Calf and a Rembrandt Award for his starring role in The Marathon.