“I think it’s very important,” says David Kross on the phone from Berlin about the true story brought to the screen in his latest film, The Keeper. “Especially for my generation, because there are not many people still living that experienced this time in Germany. It will always be important to remember that this can never happen again.”
A British/German co-production, The Keeper is about Bert Trautmann, who was part of the German army during WW2, and who went on to a conflicted new life and sporting glory in the United Kingdom.
“I hadn’t heard of it,” says Kross when we ask him if he was aware of Trautmann and his amazing story. “He’s not that well known in Germany. It’s from a different generation.
“It’s about this man who grew up in this criminal regime and was part of this criminal regime, and then later on found a new home in England. It’s a story of reconciliation as well. About someone coming to terms with his own past.”
From as young as ten years of age, Bert Trautmann was indoctrinated by the Nazi party. “He went through all this brain washing process,” says Kross. “They used his passion for sports to train him as a soldier.”
A POW with the British, he eventually kept goal for Manchester City, famously breaking his neck during a game, and continuing to play. “He was really one of the best goalkeepers at the time,” says Kross.
“In 1954, there was the German national team that won the World Cup, and Bert Trautmann was not part of this squad because the national coach wasn’t considering anyone who was playing in foreign countries. It bothered Bert, and I think that’s also the reason why he’s not well remembered in Germany.”
Like many young men in German today, David Kross dreamt of playing sport when he grew up. “We have these books when you’re in school, you give them to your friends and you have to write what is your favourite colour, what is your favourite food and what you want to become when you’re older. I remember writing that my dream job would be either a football star or actor. And now in The Keeper I just combined both.
“I was playing football for ten years, but I was never a goalkeeper,” he continues. “I got in a goalkeeping coach from the film production and I went to train every week for four months, which was really a lot of fun. I always wanted to play football, so that was great fun. There were really two different kinds of jobs in the film, being goalkeeper on the one hand and the very strong, emotional development of this character on the other.”
One of Germany’s most popular actors, David Kross turned 29 a few weeks ago, but he’s been acting since his teens. “My first big film, Tough Enough, I was only fifteen.”
His next major break happened two years later when he was cast opposite Kate Winslet in The Reader, a film that touched on similar themes to The Keeper.
“It’s a story of reconciliation as well,” he ends our conversation about The Keeper. “About someone coming to terms with his own past… I was immediately fascinated by it and I thought, ‘this is great material for a film’. It’s very important to remember this horrible time in Germany. It showed so many layers, so many different layers.”
The Keeper is in cinemas July 25, 2019