Actor Ferdinand Hofer is rarely out of character, whether as a “Tatort” investigator, a butcher's son in the Eberhofer whodunits or as goalkeeping legend Sepp Maier. He grew up in the district of Miesbach where he also shoots time and again. We went with him to his different places of work and his other favourite spots. Text und Photos: Dietmar Denger
Across the Bavarian Oberland with actor Ferdinand Hofer
The tower on Taubenberg comes across as a film set in itself. The building near Warngau rises above the spruces like a lookout post from a fairytale castle. At the top there’s 360 degrees of perfect pre-alp scenery. The view reaches as far as Munich, and to the south to Lake Tegernsee and Schliersee. The area is like a picture book of Bavaria’s best sides and it's both Ferdinand Hofer's home and place of work. He regularly shoots there, and privately also enjoys cycling: “The Taubenberg is my haven for mountain biking and road cycling.”
Nearby, he recently appeared in front of the camera for “Der Kaiser”. The film traces the life story of the famous German footballer Franz Beckenbauer. In it, Hofer portrays Sepp Mair, the jokester goalkeeper star from the era of bell-bottoms and monster sideburns.
The fantastically situated farm on the Taubenberg, which we have just driven to, is featured in the film of the Kaiser’s estate in Kitzbühel. Production in Bavaria was easier than in the Tyrolean chic town. That’s no problem anyway, “film is all about trickery,” says Hofer and laughs. All the better, so he could also drop in on his parents again. Because he grew up just a few hills, pastures and small woods away, near Weyarn.
Hofer, who was born in 1993, has become known to television audiences in recent years primarily as the overzealous criminal assistant Kalli Hammermann in the Munich “Tatort” and as the butcher’s son Max Simmerl in the Eberhofer whodunits.
His beginnings as an actor, however, go back much further. “It started in my childhood bedroom, where my mother sewed a theatre curtain for me and my brother. We then began to perform for our parents.” With a little more audience, their performances continued in the school theatre. Through his uncle, he then met director Marcus H. Rosenmüller, who also comes from the area.
“Schwere Jungs”: Cinema debut at the age of 13
Hofer was just 13 years old when Rosenmüller hired him for a child role in the bobsledding comedy “Schwere Jungs”. “That’s how I ended up in film. But I never thought back then that my hobby would become my profession,” he says during a coffee stop at the “Marktcafé”, a popular meeting place in Miesbach.
While he was really taking off as an actor, with more and more film and TV productions, Ferdinand Hofer was also a student for quite some time. In Munich, he studied business administration with a focus on mechanical engineering. “Studying and acting were not always easy to reconcile,” he recalls. “But I am glad that I went through with my studies. Who knows whether you can’t use it one day.”
Scenes from the TV series “Zimmer mit Stall” were filmed on the market square under the pretty maypole. The series tells the story of a woman from Munich who fulfils her dream of owning her own farm in the countryside. Ferdinand Hofer plays an insurance broker whose office is on the market square. An eyeglass shop was redecorated for the occasion, with portraits of Hofer in the shop window. “During the shoot, I was often asked if I had opened a shop in Miesbach.”
These days, he lives in Munich, barely an hour away. And at the same time he appreciates the Oberland feel for life. “It’s great to be able to work in my former home. It’s definitely special because you have a much more personal connection to the area.”
He's also fascinated by the fact that “the locations are often changed a lot to fit the plot. As an actor, you usually only get to see this adapted reality. When I shoot in my region, on the other hand, I know the places as they normally look. That’s when you realise how much effort and expense is put into such productions.”
Stadlberg: Room with a stable, meadow with a view
In Stadlberg, the main filming location for “Zimmer mit Stall” (Room with a Stable) not much had to be changed at all. The signpost up there is inconspicuous, but the detour is worth it. On the busy B 307 from Miesbach, head south and turn left just before Agatharied hospital.
A few hairpin bends meander the road between cow pastures up the mountain and you find yourself in a perfect countryside location with a mountain chapel, an inn and a historic farm. “Stadlberg is a classic in the region if you want to go for a little walk,” Hofer says as he lies in the grass in front of the chapel. The view from here reaches all the way to the Munich skyline.
Apart from that, Hofer always likes to slip into amusing roles. Just like in the Eberhofer whodunits. While these were mainly filmed in Frontenhausen in Lower Bavaria, the hamlet of Eutenhausen in Feldkirchen-Westerham in Upper Bavaria had to be used until recently for the Eberhofer farm, where the policeman’s father cultivates his marijuana grove in the garden.
As is well known, the offbeat provincial epic about the permanently annoyed village policeman is one big burst of humour. Nevertheless, things are not automatically funnier on the set of such productions. “Of course, the sceneries and plots are often very absurd in themselves,” says Hofer. But a comedy is not made funny by the fact that everyone is funny and in a good mood during filming. “A good comedy usually requires a lot of precision in the acting and for that you need concentration. But nevertheless, the filming of Eberhofer is of course a lot of fun. If for no other reason than you get to shoot a film with a great team almost every year for the last ten years.”
Leitzach Valley: Climbing up to calm down
Hofer is eager to show us one of his favourite places. Rather, an entire favourite valley. We first stop at the farm café “Beim Melchern” near Fischbachau. There, the ice-cold Leitzach meanders between the green hills that smell of hay. Fish dart in the water, above them dragonflies fly slalom around water rushes.
Hofer sits down on the small wooden terrace above the little river and squints into the sun. Visually, he can pass for a young actor, but with more than 40 productions for cinema and television, he has already experienced quite a bit. And has earned a rest in between. “The Leitzach Valley is the perfect place for a break. As a child, I used to go swimming at the Leitzach, definitely more refreshing than any lake.”
When time permits, he is always drawn from Munich to the south. “I love the mountains and of course the lakes. In summer I often come for cycling, climbing and hiking. In winter, of course, for skiing. And of course I still like the region for the reason that my family and also many friends live here.”
As far as role models are concerned, on the other hand, the horizon extends far beyond Bavaria. “That definitely includes Joaquin Phoenix and Christoph Waltz. There are certain characters they've played that I can watch over and over again.”
Hofer does have the talent for slightly quirky types, like those regularly portrayed by the Austrian Waltz. That would be something: a Tarantino film starring Ferdinand Hofer, filmed between Taubenberg and Leitzach Valley! Certainly, it would have an interesting plot.
For the time being, there’s Hofer as Sepp Maier in “Der Kaiser”, which has been available on Sky since 16.12.2022.
Ferdinand Hofer can also be seen in “Tatort: Mord unter Misteln” from 26.12.2022.