‘Run Lola Run’ Star Franka Potente Felt ‘Invincible’ and ‘Part of Every Particle’ Making the ‘90s Cult Film

“Run Lola Run” star Franka Potente felt “invincible” while filming Tom Tykwer’s playful, propulsive 1999 hit, which had her running full-tilt through Berlin three times in a row to save her boyfriend, with a different outcome each time.

“I remember feeling invigorated all the time because you feel like you’re part of the process,” Potente raved to TheWrap about working with the director on the breakout film, which is back in theaters for its 25th anniversary.

“Tom immediately invited me into his way of thinking and made me a part of it. I wish more directors were aware of this, because you get more out of the experience with your actors,” Potente added. She and Tykwer started dating after “Lola” and then re-teamed for “The Princess and the Warrior” in 2000.

Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu in "Run Lola Run"
Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu in “Run Lola Run” (CREDIT: Sony Pictures Classics)

“It’s really hard to dissect in hindsight and be like, ‘Oh, how did that happen?’ He had the overall view of what he wanted, but at the same time, I felt part of every particle of it, because he opened that up for me,” she said.

Potente broke down how they arrived at the character’s look, how the film is kind of like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and the most “magical” moment in the movie.

TheWrap: How did you come up with that specific look for Lola?

Franka Potente: I think red hair was in the script. I remember trying different colors, but red was just the most vibrant color that visually made sense, with the monochromatic backdrop. I can’t imagine any other color today.

I came to the movie with jet black hair and I would dye my hair all the time anyway, so I was just like, “Yeah, sure.” I was really young at the time, I was 23. So I was game for anything.

What about the clothes?

The look was the late ’90s, the Doc Martens, the clothes were probably something that I was wearing. What was important was that she wasn’t wearing sneakers, that she had a challenge and then just had to go.

Franka Potente at the Bambi Awards 2023
Franka Potente at the Bambi Awards 2023 (CREDIT: Felix Hörhager/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Lola’s look was immediately copied in “Alias” and on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Whenever we noticed that, when it popped up here and there, we were like, “Oh, OK, that’s cool.”

I think that it was part of a feeling at the time. A lot of great movies came out that year, like “The Matrix.” These female characters brought a certain fury to the story. Visually, that red hair embodies a certain female rage like something noncompliant, punk-ass, sassy chick, right? And I think that’s why people copied it or used it like we did. It’s not like we invented it, really.

But you made it yours.

We made it ours. It’s neat. Earlier today, my kids were watching — totally by coincidence — “The Simpsons'” “Lola” episode and I was like, “Oh my God.”

“Trilogy of Error?” that’s a great episode. And “The X-Files” did an homage as well. Do you feel like you started the time loop trend?

I would more say like, we were part of something, that maybe we also followed. It’s neat. It’s totally OK to quote or to replicate. Like, I’m thinking about “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

I was thinking of that, too, because we get these little mini ‘verses where we see the possible futures of the supporting characters in “Lola.”

Yeah, but it’s different: They show the metaverse and Lola is not the metaverse. It’s one singular experience that stops and then we go back to the beginning. But “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is also a conglomerate of great quotes.

I think that the underlying, overriding energy of “Lola” is what prevails. You could change it so I had an iPhone, or used an Uber, would it be different? Sure. I mean, taxis existed back in the day. I think it’s also a film about self-reliance. I could still imagine moments where, for whatever reason, I have to get up and rely on myself and run.

What was tougher for you, all the running or the screaming?

Nothing really was [tough]. The day I had to shoot the screaming, I realized I never screamed like that in my life. But I think because we were so energized by the way we worked, it was more like, “Oh, fun. What do we get to do today?”

The day we started shooting the scream, I had no idea what it would sound like or look like. But we were so carried by the safety of our excitement and the creative space that Tom created, that it was all possible, I felt quite invincible. It sounds so cheesy, but in the best creative way, you know you’re in the flow together. And there’s nothing that you can’t imagine you could achieve together.

Do you have a favorite shot or a favorite scene? I’m thinking  of the moment in the third segment where she gets into the ambulance with the security guard, and then she just holds his hand and his blood pressure immediately returns to normal.

That was kind of magical. We couldn’t really discuss verbally, what we wanted to happen in that moment. I remember that Tom was like, “You’re magical in that moment.”

I remember, when Lola gets shot, we discussed that it was a big exhale, like something religious. When that take was over, I came up from the cut and I looked at him. We would just know if we got it, or we didn’t. And that’s something as an actor that you don’t forget. That doesn’t happen on every project. At all.

“Run Lola Run” is now playing in select theaters.

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