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My Bio in a Nutshell
I was born into the chaos of WW II, on 29 May 1943 in Kitzbühel, Austria, in those days considered part of the "Reich", and I was christened Hans-Rainer Robert Steffen. Shortly after, however, my mother and I relocated to Schlüchtern in Hesse, Germany, where my parents' home was. I grew up as a Hessian, and Hessian is my dialect. On Casting sites I give Schlüchtern as my place of birth to keep people from deriving that I speak an Austrian dialect, a frequent misconception in earlier days.
The theatre thrilled me early on, much like my mother who joined every amateur drama group in town. She took me to rehearsals, I was infected on the spot and started acting wherever they offered a role for a young boy.
At age sixteen, after completing the eleventh grade I chucked school and moved to Munich. My mother had died two years earlier, and my father was not prepared to pay for an acting school. Yet I, by all means, wanted to work in the theatre. So I went through a hairdressing apprenticeship, prerequisite for becoming a makeup artist in those days.
My apprenticeship completed, I tried to migrate to France but, in Paris, had to can my plan pretty soon since I ran out of money. Back in Germany I was drafted into the German military. And yet, eighteen endless months later, now 21 years old and of age, I could begin my studies at an acting school.
The money it cost had to be earned: I worked at a warehouse, a filling station, a restaurant, did whatever job available in those days. Eventually I became a stagehand at Munich's Residenztheater, a few months later I was an extra, too, and then came my first small roles, still at the "Resi".
In 1969 I set out for my odyssey through Germany. I rarely was a member of a theatre's long-term ensemble but was usually hired for one or two productions in various towns, repeatedly in Munich, too, roaming the country with touring companies, commuting for performances... Simultaneously, I was hired for TV productions again and again, or for a movie now and then. There also were quite a few interesting roles for me in those industries.
But then, in 1989, I had reached a stage where all that travelling began to drive me nuts: furnished rooms, makeshift flats and hotels, cities where I remained a stranger, because I never had enough time to grow roots. So I decided to settle down. At age 47, I went back to college to become a translator, graduating successfully four years later. I was lucky enough to become established as a freelancing translator and a tour guide of Munich, still acting in front of a camera on the side until 2001.
A pensioner for several years, I restarted my acting career in 2014. And I'll stick to that now!