I don’t consider Daniel to be one of my stand alone special interests, yet he gets a post devoted to him anyway for the simple fact that whilst the others inevitably fade into obscurity, he sticks around. I liked him from the very first time I saw him in Goodbye Lenin and then began to like him even more once I saw Inglourious Basterds. It wasn’t until September 2013 with the release of Rush that I really began to appreciate him. He quickly became my new favourite person and somewhat overtook my Christoph Waltz obsession. He then managed to survive and outlast my fascination with Gedeon Burkhard and the Austrian TV show Inspector Rex and Michael Fassbender that followed. Daniel cannot put a step wrong as far as I am concerned. He has the rare distinction that I have liked every film of his I have seen so far, even The Fifth Estate. There is a recent exception to this, but I don’t even count A Most Wanted Man on my list of Daniel films since I don’t think I’ll be adding that to my collection and him and most of the Germans in the film were just background characters. I don’t think you even get to hear his name in the film. In the interests of balance I have to admit that I haven’t seen Two Days in Paris yet, nor The Countess. I’m not particularly looking forward to seeing either of those, the former especially since I don’t like romantic type films.
Being half German and Spanish I wonder who he supports in terms of national football? I know he’s a big football fan, I don’t know if he has any interest in the Bundesliga, I think he’s a Barcelona fan. He has been in a German film about football, Der Große Traum which I haven’t seen yet, I really should bump that up my list, could there be a more perfect time to watch it? It would make a great double bill with Deutschland: Ein Sommermärchen.
As I said above its Rush that made me really like him, he was just perfect as Niki Lauda, more perfect than I ever could have imagined. He looked and sounded exactly like him. It’s rare for an actor to achieve such perfection when playing a real person. I love the fact that he looks so much like Niki that you can confuse people with pictures as to which is Daniel and which is the real Niki. I remember showing someone a picture of Niki from his book and they thought it was Daniel. Some of my favourite pictures from Rush:
Rush brought out an old interest in Formula One, with Christoph Waltz it was Nazis and European history and the Cold War (he was meant to play Gorbachev in a film about the Reykjavik summit but it never got made) however with Daniel it was the history of Formula One and the intrigue and politics that went on behind the scenes with the rivalry between Ferrari and McLaren. I quickly lost interest in modern-day Formula one though, it’s not the same as it used to be. There’s no real characters amongst the drivers. To be fair, I don’t think anyone could be as interesting as Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and any others you care to name from previous years.
It’s curious to think, he has a connection with several of my special interests from the past few years. Football connects him to Joachim Löw and the fact that he was one of the prominent people in a magazine feature where they were asking Joachim Löw questions about the upcoming World Cup, he’s been in a film with TK, In Tranzit. He was in Inglourious Basterds, as are Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Gedeon Burkhard and Richard Sammel. He has a more tenuous connection to Sebastian Koch, they have both been in films about the DDR, Daniel being in Goodbye Lenin and Sebastian in Das Leben der Anderen and Der Tunnel.
One of things I like about him best is that it’s impossible to pick a favourite film of his, he’s been in so many good things. Unlike with CW, SK and TK, liking Daniel doesn’t involve sitting through a pile of truly terrible films just to see him for a few scenes. I have several favourites amongst his films: Rush, Goodbye Lenin, Love in Thoughts, The Edukators, Inglourious Basterds, The Coming Days, The White Noise and No Regrets.
He’s also got some great stuff coming out, The Face of An Angel, Woman in Gold, Ich und Kaminski (which reunites him with Goodbye Lenin director Wolfgang Becker) and Colonia Dignidad.
Even though he wasn’t my predominant special interest at the time (technically CW was) not long after Rush came out, I began assembling the beginnings of a collection. The difference was that it was centered around one film, Rush whereas with CW I collected pretty much anything I could find. The highlights of my Daniel/Niki Lauda collection are without a doubt the banner for the film I got from Germany (not as big as the one I got of Hans Landa or Dr. King Schultz but still pretty cool) and the signed postcard of Niki Lauda. A great find was also two of Niki Lauda’s books, I think that’s the most I’ve ever spent on a book, but it was worth it.
The other difference is that I haven’t put any of that stuff away, once I stopped liking CW so much I started taking down all of my pictures and posters. Not because I needed the space but because I just didn’t want them around anymore. To contrast with Daniel, I only took down the Rush poster when I needed the space for a banner of Jogi und die Mannschaft. And I still have two of his posters up, Inglourious Basterds and Merry Christmas.
I think the reason for Daniel outlasting most of the other Germans is that because he wasn’t a main special interest, I couldn’t really get bored with him in the same way as the others. Because I wasn’t so fixated on him, the usual process could be avoided. I wouldn’t go through the usual steps of really liking him, making everything about him and then turning against him when I got sick of him. In that sense he’s probably the healthiest of all my recent special interests.