Gestapo boss out for revenge in new season of Das Boot
Hot off the heels of his "sinister" roles as two deadly assassins in Game of Thrones and Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, Tom Wlaschiha had to think twice about playing a Nazi in the sequel to Das Boot.
Impressed by the scripts and complex characters in the TV drama, the German actor eventually accepted the role of Gestapo chief Hagen Forster in the Bavaria Fiction/Sky co-production.
"I wouldn't have been interested if it was your stereotypical, cliched Nazi," he says. "Since he has different sides to him I thought it would be interesting to play such a character who is doing despicable actions but try and play him as a human being."
The acclaimed, multilingual series is back for a second season, available to stream in its entirety on SBS On Demand.
Wlaschiha is keen to point out the series is not a remake of the acclaimed 1981 film of the same name, based on Lothar-Günther Buchheim's best-selling novel, which garnered six Oscar nominations.
"The movie is one of the few German movies that are known worldwide," he says.
"The original movie is iconic and there's nothing to be remade about it. Our series is based on same source material and I thought the idea of telling a wider panorama of the whole U-boat war that had gone on in the 1940s was very appealing. Also to have the story on land as well is interesting for the audience. They can get all the backgrounds to the war."
Set in nine months after the film in 1942, the first season of Das Boot followed the crew of the submarine U-612 on its first voyage and the Resistance efforts on land in occupied France, led by American freedom fighter Carla Monroe (played by Lizzy Caplan).
Having his feet firmly planted on the ground as the ruthless sly and arrogant Gestapo inspector was an added benefit for Wlaschiha.
"I really get seasick easily quite so I was happy my character didn't have to go on the U-boat," he says. "Most of those interior U-boat scenes were shot in the studio in Prague, but they built this model on a device that simulated the movement of the subamriens, so I'm perfectly happy I didn't set foot on one."
In the first season, there were glimpses of a softer side his character as Forster attempted to woo German-born, French-speaking interpreter Simone (Vicky Krieps). But Simone reluctantly joins forces with the Monroe and her rebels, and ultimately betrays him.
But when he returns in season two, Forster is still stinging from Margot's deception.
"He really thought this was the love of his life. He thought she loved him back, so the betrayal at the end of the first season was the ultimate betrayal," he says.
"For him it was incomprehensible how she could turn against him. In season two he's still the boss of the Gestapo at La Rochelle, and as the story goes on he's forced to do more things that he doesn't want to do. There's that inner diescrpanccy of what he believes in and what he's suppseod to do, and the gap becomes wider and wider.
"He's a control freak on all levels and he realises he can't control everything, that's what really drives him insane.
"Without wanting to give spoilers, he's going to want to seek revenge one way or the other. He goes to some dark places."
Season two of Das Boot premieres today on SBS On Demand.