In the mythical ZDF “Spreewald crime” he has captivated viewers since 2006 as the taciturn, solitary investigator Thorsten Krüger. And before that, Christian Redl had always caused a sensation in roles in which he appeared mysterious, sometimes even dangerous.

As early as 1990 as the title hero in the fact-based feature film “Der Hammermörder”, which also brought the theater mime his TV breakthrough with the Grimme Prize. But even away from the screen and the stage, the native of Schleswig-Holstein, with his massive stature, bald head and eyes that can see penetratingly, seems mysterious to some people.

“Throughout my life, I’ve also done a lot to let myself become a somewhat mysterious guy,” says Redl, who turns 75 on April 20, the German Press Agency. Calm and in a good mood, he adds: “It was incredibly important to me that I was unapproachable and that you didn’t know what to expect from me when you spoke to me. And that you were also a bit afraid of me.”

Insecurity and lack of self-confidence

The artist provides the explanation for this right away: “It came from an absolute insecurity. Triggered by a sentence from my father that shaped me for life: “You’re stupid, but make sure that nobody notices.”

In his recently published autobiography “Life has no railing” (Westend Verlag, Frankfurt), Redl explains in clear and truthful words how this youth suffering from oppression, in which the mother was not loving either, led to a lack of self-confidence and thus complete disorientation /Main).

Redl emphasizes that he wrote down his story solely for his wife, whom he met at the age of 61 – only friends would have made it public. Because he actually detests actor memoirs.

Shakespeare shows the way

In the end, writing made him reconcile with his parents, he reveals. In the book, Redl also makes it clear how art became an “absolute lifeline” for him. Because it was at the Waldorf School that he experienced confirmation for the first time in the role of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. And with it the guidance as to which profession he should take up. “I wanted to be recognized, I also wanted to be someone,” says Redl. At that time always hoping to find himself through his roles.

His stage career took him to Wuppertal, Frankfurt/Main, Bremen and Hamburg. He worked with Frank-Patrick Steckel, Claus Peymann and Peter Zadek. However, the young actors who played Tartuffe, Stanley Kowalski and Mackie Messer were often repelled by the discrepancy between left-wing political aspirations among theater people and their own behavior. “They played the same power games with us as their authoritarian predecessors. With means that can be used to make people compliant. Criticism of them was not allowed.”


Redl became addicted to alcohol – from which he later got rid of of his own accord, as he writes in his book. He also talks about failed relationships, such as the marriage to his stage colleague Marlen Diekhoff and the passion for Maja Maranow (“A strong team”), who died in 2016. And then there was the music. “It started with my interest in Villon’s ballads. The leper, who wanders lonely and abandoned through this world, living wild and daring with women and alcohol – that fascinated me,” confesses the actor. Texts by Baudelaire and Rimbaud were added later.

He no longer makes music, and the theater no longer interests him. Instead, the language-loving Redl invites his friend Ulrich Tukur and the pianist Olena Kushpler to readings of classical verse again and again. And he would like – after the many problematic roles on television – to be able to prove his talent as a comedian, he reveals.