Elias Mubarak: “One is often put in the wrong light” – Cinema

Elias Mubarak and Jonas Nye are among the stars of “Alf Khatt”. In an exclusive interview, the actors talked about their roles and good journalism.

Starts September 29ththousand linesIn German cinemas. Michael “Bully” Herbig (54) depicted the scandal surrounding Spiegel author Claes Relotius. Journalist Juan Moreno had tracked down his colleague at the time. The film is based on Moreno’s book A Thousand Lines of Lies. They are in leadership roles Elias Mubarak (40) as journalist Juan Romero and Jonas Nye (32) as star reporter Lars Pugenius. We spoke exclusively to the two cast members.

Elias Mubarak and Jonas Nye in an interview

Were you cast for the roles?

Elias Mubarak: yes. I am a huge fan of Juan Moreno and I know his book A Thousand Lines of Lies. The story is amazing – both positive and negative. When I was inspired by the script from the book, I really wanted to be in the movie.

Jonas Nye: I did e-casting for Bogenius, so I photographed myself and sent it away. After Bully Herbig saw the two scenes, he called me and gave me the part. The first scene was a long monologue that Lars Pugenius held at the end of the film. This is a defense letter of an accusatory nature. Also in the second scene, during a phone call with Romero, during which I did not allow myself to be on the defensive, I had to take an accusatory position and respond indignantly to his suspicions. I really wanted to play Bogenius and I was going to lose out on sporting the cast, but I would definitely grieve for a long time.


How about Juan Moreno’s book about the story of Baron Munchausen, the trick-or-treater on the Spiegel editorial team, that made you feel the most down-to-earth?

Elias Mubarak: scope of everything. Nowadays, manipulation is used on all possible levels, just think of Donald Trump or certain political trends. This issue affects us all – whether it is in secret, in the socio-political sphere or at work. As a public figure, you know anyway that you are often put in the wrong light. I find it unfair because being honest about others and myself means a lot to me. Juan Moreno suffered a lot because he almost lost his job. In this regard, Moreno’s book “A Thousand Lines of Lies” is a thrilling, tragic and shocking story.


Jonas Nye: Before I read the book for the first time, I asked myself why no one noticed that many of Spiegel’s reports of Claus Relotius were fake and false – especially because we live in the 21st century and so many different alleged facts examined online. But then again, scammers and scammers have a strong sense of manipulation and have been around forever. An example is author Carl May, who put many of his writings in different journals at the same time – always under different names. At that time no one noticed because the Hamburg articles were not published in Bavaria and vice versa. In the case of Claes Relotius, on the other hand, I could not understand why none of those directly affected by his lies, for example his alleged partners in the interview, did not shout out loud. I also found it strange that Relotius was able to build and sustain the construction of his lies for so long, until finally immersed in deep into Relotius’ system of lies, which seemed to be prepared for all eventualities. The scandal shocked me, but it also made me sensitive to skepticism about the texts, theses, and headlines I read the most.

“A Thousand Lines”: Elias Mubarak spoke with Juan Moreno

Her roles – Romero and Puginius – are based on Moreno and Relotius. What aspects were you particularly interested in?

Elias Mubarak: “A Thousand Lines” is a fantasy film based on the book by Juan Moreno. Fortunately we had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas. I also found it interesting what the scandal did to Moreno and how Moreno felt at the time. Finally, of course, I wanted to understand how Juan could explain to himself why no one believed him when he was already on the trail of Relotius – and why the officials at Spiegel defended the wrong person for weeks.

Jonas Nye: During my electronic casting, I freed myself of any thoughts about the real scammers and instead developed my own scammer character in order to cast the cast. I also wanted to know from Bully Herbig how much viewers should find Bogenius likable. His answer: the great art is to play “table tennis” with the characters – on the one hand, viewers must follow the pseudonym Elias Romero, but on the other hand, Puginius must constantly try to win them over. This dynamic was a challenge that I enjoyed very much.

Did you talk to real scammers before the shooting started?

Jonas Nye: No, but with the victims of scammers – to understand how they were manipulated and why they were taken over by scammers in the first place. Victims explained to me that fraudsters always appear sympathetic, using a technique such as reversing the victim’s behavior so that a bond of trust is established. It inspired me so much…

Did you read and admire Spiegel’s lies by Claes Relotius at the time?

Elias Mubarak: I don’t like her but of course I knew her. I read “Jaegers Grenz” on the plane at the time and wondered how border guards could shoot people while a reporter watched. Later, before the shooting began, I also read the articles of other fraudsters. That’s when I realized the incredible proportions of the scandal. Well, unfortunately, the articles that lie the most were also the most adventurous, the most memorable and the most interesting.

Jonas Nye: To some extent, I admire Relotius for his ability to disguise in such a way that people will buy his lies are true – as well as for his amusing writings. By the way, Spiegel later checked what is absolutely true. Given the large number of false or unverifiable claims, I was really impressed that Relotius was able to force such stories on his employer at all—because those who reviewed his articles were, after all, seasoned editors and fact-checkers. But it’s possible that once you get to it, you can ride a wave of success for a long time.


Elias, what did you exchange with Juan Moreno?

Elias Mubarak: Above all, I wanted to learn a lot about the journalism profession. First, because I’ve never played a journalist before. Second, because the job has always mattered to me. Thirdly, because as an actor I work a lot with journalists – and fourth, because it is important work. I asked Juan Moreno how he does his job, what drives him, how hard the job is and how long real journalism takes. I also really wanted to know what the scandal did – and how he managed to tackle it.

How did Claas Relotius react to the film project?

Jonas Nye: I do not know that. For me it was just that I’m playing Lars Pugenius – and that character is fictional. In this regard, there was no urgent reason for me to speak with Claas Relotius – even if it was a very interesting source for me due to my profession as an actor. Because when did you ever get the chance to talk to such a character?

What food for thought does the film provide?

Elias Mubarak: Aside from the fact that it is an incredibly entertaining, funny, exciting and emotional film, it above all asks what one actually expects from the press – and why the false articles are scandalous to the world of media and readers as well as to me personally. For me I answered it this way: I need good reporters who can immerse themselves in other people’s planets on my behalf and then share their horizons of experience with me. Only then can I get an unfiltered picture of the world. The whole thing becomes a problem when I can’t trust that this system actually works – in this case not even with a broker like Spiegel. If something like that flew, the whole world would become one gray mist. The dimension is just amazing.

Jonas Nye: For me, I’ve learned again that often judging things and people by their appearance is counterproductive. Our movie clearly shows that everyone wanted to believe Puginius because he was young, eloquent, and seemed to be very interested in his fellow humans. Because he seemed so perfect, no one even afterwards thought that this guy could be a liar. We should be more careful and not be distracted by the beautiful appearance.

Elias Mubarak: “I still trust the press”

How has your view of the reports changed?

Elias Mubarak: I still trust the press because I think it works really well. I think the Relotius case was actually just an isolated case in this dimension.

Jonas Nye: I feel the same way. There are people who blatantly lie to you – but on the other hand there are also those who reveal such a thing. We can be very grateful to Juan Moreno for his achievement. Good press allowed deception to emerge. What about my vision? Fortunately, there are media outlets that are more serious than fake news, which is easy to see if you question the sources and see if they are fact-based or spread from certain political camps.


Do you keep lists of notorious journalists with whom you no longer give interviews?

Elias Mubarak: Fortunately, I haven’t had many bad experiences with the Black Sheep in this job profile – and I can also handle well-founded criticism. I have never experienced that the word was put in my mouth. While there are some papers that I do not want to work with, I do believe in the right to free speech and any form of wise criticism, whether positive or negative.

Jonas Nye: I see it the same way, because I don’t always tell the whole truth, and that doesn’t mean I’m lying. No, but in every interview I consciously decide which part of the truth to reveal myself and what I don’t mention or not correct.

please an example

Jonas Nye: I am often written about as a jazz pianist and have studied film composition. In fact, I took a private course in film music and sound engineering at the Musicube Academy in Bonn – and did a “Bachelor of Arts” at the Faculty of Music with a major in jazz piano. Those are two different things, but not everyone always cares about such a distinct fact – sometimes I don’t, either. On the other hand, the three music students in my teams laugh about it because they know the teams so well.

Interview: Mike Bowles

Leave a Comment