Fritz Wepper was retired and his “Um Himmels Willen” series was discontinued. The actor explains how much it hurts him and how it goes from here.
His incomparable humor has carried him through life and accompanied him through ups and downs. He’s the type of old circus horse who would love to die in the arena, i.e. in front of the camera. One of the last of his kind, which the fans love because of his human weaknesses, which he has never made a secret. His current series about Mayor Wöller and Kaltenthal Abbey still attracts five million viewers a week. But now it’s over.
Fritz Wepper: “It hurts”
BUNTE: 20 years is definitely a long time for a TV series.
Fritz Wepper: Yes, that’s true. It was also several thousand days of shooting, but I would have liked to continue. We had around five million viewers every week, including younger fans, who watched the episodes in the media library. The decision by ARD is not easy for me to endure and it came as a complete surprise to me. After all, the producers came to see me at Tegernsee to tell me personally that they wanted to end “For heaven’s sake”. I am a person who tries to see the positive in everything, and thanks to my meditative outlook, I can now live with the thought that you should stop when it is most beautiful. It’s worse when you get swept off the carpet for failure. Fortunately, that’s not the case, but it does hurt.
Sometimes you weren’t so physically fit anymore. Did you really still feel up to the rigors of filming?
I’m fine, I was able to cope with every day of shooting without any problems. Of course there are limitations, but in my perception I don’t have a serious illness. I regularly go to the check-up at the Innsbruck clinic, where a new heart valve was inserted three years ago.
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I trust the doctors there very much. In the summer I had a bit of weakness and sometimes get infusions, but the new blood values are tip-top or normal, as the doctors say. My heart is no longer causing problems, everything is okay. My health was not the reason for this decision. In January I will also start intensively with physiotherapy because it was very limited by the pandemic. I can’t run a 100-meter run right now, but I’m still young compared to Methuselah. And feel so
You belong to the risk group. Did you have to take special care?
The whole team was tested three times a week and the temperature was checked on arrival on the set. That applied to all actors and staff and not just to me. I am currently talking to a lot of people who regret the end of our series. Especially in the current Corona time, you are confronted with bad news from all sides, people are longing for an entertainment format like ours, where they can relax. I hear that all the time.
The ARD wants to continue to rejuvenate, it is said. Apparently the elderly do not have a large lobby in the station, which has mostly older viewers. Actually a little incomprehensible. It’s not like that you automatically become stupid with age. My body knows where to sit or go. And my brain remembers the text just as well as it used to. But just because this show is over now, I won’t stop acting. I love my job too much for that. I am open to new projects. The broadcaster is already considering that, but I’m not interested in a consolation, it should be a real option.
Will there at least be a correct parting sequence?
Nothing is planned so far, but producers and broadcasters may think constructively and something else will happen. We always had feature-length specials and at the end I would think it would be nice to say goodbye like that.
Fritz Wepper had to cope with the death of his wife Angela Wepper († 76). We remember them in the following video.
On “For heaven’s sake”: “Things probably have to end sometimes”
Is the last season already finished?
No, I have two days of shooting before Christmas and then the last season will be broadcast from spring 2021. But there may be times when things have to end for others to begin. Next year two books by me will be published by Heyne-Verlag, my autobiography for my 80th birthday in August and a kind of dog guide with the title “Without a dog I’m not a person”. Both books are created in close collaboration with Susanne Kellermann, the mother of my little daughter Filippa. Susanne also made a documentary about my life, which I hope will be broadcast on my birthday. We are currently negotiating this.
There should be a Covid-19 vaccine soon. Would you get vaccinated?
Right away! I’m turning 80 and I’m part of the risk group. I have a responsibility to myself and to others, that is my position on the subject. The way I think at least 80 percent of Germans are certain. And I don’t understand anyone else.
In times of crisis, people who are close to you are particularly important. How are you going to spend the holidays?
With the family, as always. On Christmas Eve I’m with my daughter Sophie, her husband David and my delightful granddaughter Klärchen, who is already two years old. When the candles are reflected in their eyes, my heart opens. On Christmas Day I have the traditional goose at Tegernsee, to which my daughter Filippa and her mother Susanne come. I also got corona rapid tests so that we can all celebrate relaxed together. And about the turn of the year I will calmly think about what I will do in my anniversary year. I certainly do not fall into paralysis or melancholy because a series is coming to an end.
Interview: Christiane Soyke
See Fritz Wepper’s hardest walk in the following video: On the way to the funeral service, his daughter gave him support.