Berlin Gears up for 'Valkyrie' Shoot: Cruise Gets Green Light to Film at Tempelhof Airport
Tom Cruise has had a few setbacks since arriving in Berlin to make a film about German resistance hero Claus von Stauffenberg. But on the eve of shooting, things are looking up. The star has been given permission to shoot at Tempelhof Airport and veteran actor Armin Mueller-Stahl has jumped to his defense.
Tom Cruise is set to play Claus von Stauffenberg, the German resistance hero.
Although Cruise has been turned away from a number of key locations in the German capital, he has been given permission to shoot in a building adjoining Berlin's iconic Tempelhof Airport. The Nazis used the Columbia Haus from 1934 as a prison and torture center for political prisoners, including future East German Eric Honecker.
The orginial building was torn down in 1936 to make way for a new grandiose airport complex, designed to be the gateway to the capital of a victorious Third Reich, Germania, as envisaged by Hitler and his favorite architect Albert Speer. Today Columbia Haus serves as offices for Berlin's Water and Shipping Authority (WSA), and is owned by the German government.
No End to the Controversy
There has been no end to the controversy over the film about one of Germany's relatively few wartime heros because of Cruise's membership of Scientology, which is viewed with deep skepticism in Germany. It is officially monitored by government intelligence agencies and has been under increased scrutiny since it opened a major new center in Berlin in January.
The government has a somewhat schizophrenic approach to the Cruise film. The actor has been refused permission to shoot at a Berlin police premises and at the Bendlerblock, a government building in central Berlin, where Stauffenberg hatched his plot and where he and several others were executed after it failed. But at the same time the government is also funding the shooting of Cruise's film, with the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) giving it 4.8 million ($6.5 million) in subsidies.
But a number of Germans have also come to Cruise's defense. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the German director of the Oscar-winning film "The Lives of Others," criticized the "circus" surrounding the filming permits in Berlin and said that the film could be a big opportunity for Germany itself, saying it "would do more to improve Germany's image than 10 soccer World Cups."
And veteran German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl, who has made a career as a character actor in Hollywood, has also thrown his support behind Cruise. The 76-year-old asked those in Germany who are judging the superstar to calm down, calling them "inhibited, small-minded and uptight." In an interview published in the magazine Super Illu on Tuesday, Mueller-Stahl said an actor should only be judged on whether he plays a role credibly: "And that can only be done after the film is finished -- and not before."
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