Earlier this year she wrapped production on Dong Lei's film The Cello Player where she took on the leading role of Natali, a German woman victimized by an NS Commander during the last days of WWII. She also took on the starring role of Naomi Basson, a Lance Corporal who is part of a medical task force during the Second American Civil War, in the film Maquisard.
While she's proven her capacity to take on a variety of characters from the shameless drug addicted Remi in Fool's Errand to the beautiful Suzanna in Fives, Ludemann's knack for action-packed productions is something that really sets her a part from the rest. Over the years the actress has accrued years of stunt training as well as experience with firearms which, combined with her ability to play the fierce female lead, has made her a highly sought after performer for war and western films.
As a classically trained theatre actress Ludemann knows how to command her audience's attention from the stage, a facet of her talent that has carried over to her career in film and television making her a difficult performer to turn away from whenever she hits the screen.
Some of her theatre performances to date include taking on the starring role of Julie in "Miss Julie" directed by Antoinette Kellermann in Cape Town, South Africa, Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" directed by Ken Learner in Los Angeles, Teresa in "Italian American Reconciliation" directed by Bob Lipton in Los Angeles, and others.
To find out more about this seasoned actress make sure to check out our interview below. You can also find out more about her film and television projects through her IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7052398/
Where are you from?
BL: I'm from Stellenbosch, South Africa. I am German South African and my parents are German.
When and how did you get into acting?
BL: At the age of 12 I was certain I wanted to pursue a career in acting. I had a very inspiring drama teacher when I was in primary school, we did lots of children plays (Rahl Dahl being one of them) and since then I have found it inspiring to play different roles.
Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?
BL: In the film Fives I played Suzanna, a 26-year-old new girl at the office who is considered to be a “7” on a 1-10 scale of hotness, and she doesn’t struggle to get the males’ attention in the office. While I was playing this character, I did have to delve into my overly confident side and be super aware that I had to be extremely good looking. But at the same time behind the camera I was a bit self-conscious having to walk around set and have everyone looking at me to see if I’m really a “7+.” After a while I just owned it and felt the character. Suzanna serves a pivotal role as the male lead, Eric, flirts with her in order to make their co-worker, Meghan, jealous. Suzanna is fully aware of the situation and just plays along, because she knows Eric and Meghan make a better couple than she and Eric would.
One of the main challenges I faced playing this role was to make sure the character did not come off as being cocky, narcissistic or vein. It’s so easy to cross the line between making Suzanna sympathetically help Eric as a stimulus to get what he wants in a positive and genuine way because he is her co-worker, in contrast to helping him get what he wants by having the audience view the character as a negative superficial brat who just uses her looks for her own vein gratification.
This role also highlights another theme, that being: the power women get from being good looking, especially around the office. As an actress, I do not really have much first-hand experience in a serious office, so that was one of the things I had to do some research on.
In the music film Stay I played the wife’s best friend who supports her during labor while her husband is dying. The character was a few years older and wiser than me, so it felt like I had been pushed into the serious life of intense adult drama. Playing this character in this film was a learning curve for me regarding the acting style the director demanded from us. as there was no dialogue during the entire film, everything was purely physical. The director wanted the finished edit to be in slow motion. So firstly, I had to be very conscious of too fast paced or too slow paced movements and secondly, as it was a heavily driven emotive drama, portraying emotions strongly enough for it to read on camera (in slow motion) was different. All of us took a few takes in the beginning to get the right balance for the pace and movement. The film received the Best Micro Film Award from the 20th Indie Gathering International Film Festival.
In the film The Cello Player I played Natali, a woman who gets caught by a NS-Commander during the last days of WW2. Working on this film was scarily realistic because everything from the set, wardrobe, make up and the cast was almost an exact replica from the WW2 time. We had to walk barefoot with dirt on our feet and clothes.
My character's interactions in the film portray how gruesome the NS Commanders could be back in those days as she gets captured, used and finally raped. Her character demonstrates how women were helpless victims to crimes NS Commanders played through and demonstrates that she is just a tool for the male lead to get what he wants.
This role was extremely challenging because I found out the first day of shooting we were doing an intense rape scene one day earlier than scheduled. It did make me feel a bit intimidated as I was getting raped by the male star, Thure Riefenstein, who is an accomplished German actor in Germany; but doing that scene spontaneously took the pressure off and helped me focus on the moment in every take.
In the film Maquisard I play Naomi Basson who is a Lance Corporal (combat medic) from Johannesburg, South Africa. She is part of the 44 Parachute Brigade and 44 Medical Task Group. Working on this film was amazing firstly, because I got to represent my own country and use an Afrikaans accent. Secondly, I got to reconnect with my medical side. I was working as a caretaker in England for a year, so I know on first hand basis what nurses and doctors go through. And thirdly, I had to do combat training for this role, learning how to hold and shoot military guns properly for the screen was an amazing experience. So all in all, I definitely felt the part. Naomi was critical to this film, as she is one of 3 other volunteers to join the UNAF Recon Team 5 to restore peace.
There were two big challenges in this film. Firstly, researching all military terms and understanding the background of the script, which was challenging because, with South Africa not really having a big military, I was not exposed to these terms and ways of thinking. The film was also written in a make believe time in a make believe place, with make believe events that had previously occurred that resulted in this plot. So therefore, reading and internalizing the backstory of the make-believe circumstances to this whole film was a crucial part of playing this character. Secondly, the military training that we did prior to the shoot was such a learning curve for me as an actress. Learning how to hold and shoot a gun properly for the screen, how to maneuver in a team of 4 people through buildings and how to have that physical tough military vibe to my character was a good learning curve for me.
In the film Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure I play Claudia, a customer in the massage parlor who is upset with Damon’s ‘special treatment’ massage which does not live up to her standards. Playing Claudia was pretty special experience because she is a comedic character who serves a comedic purpose in the film, because she gets heavily upset with a massage treatment that isn’t done up to her expectations. She stirs up tension between Diego and Tony who own the massage parlor that caters for women that need extra special sexual care… The challenge in this film was coming in on the day of shooting and trying to bond with the two male leads, Karltun Moreno and Spencer Mathis, in such a short amount of time. Getting to know another actor’s way of working is limited and there’s a certain amount of time pressure. Another element was that I was just wearing a towel in the scene, so it was challenging for some people to take everyone seriously…
In Fools’ Errand I played a drug and sex addict named Remi. I felt dirty and slutty playing this character. It’s harder for me as an actor to play a lower class low life character that has more superficial and primal morals and goals. In the film Remi tries to convince Mike to cheat on his girlfriend by supplying him drugs and sexual pleasures in order to rope him into her world. Remi is a drug addict who will do anything for money. In order for me to give such a ‘low life’ unambitious character some credibility and humanity, I played her very sympathetically in the last scene where Mike leaves her to go back to Sharon, his girlfriend.
I was featured in the spoof film Dr. Quinn Morphine Woman with Jane Seymour, and I played a local cowgirl who feared the return of Dr. Quinn who was medicating everyone with morphine. This was a very small cast and crew, and one of the memorable things I experienced is that all the women shared a dressing room together on this really dusty ranch in the middle of nowhere. So basically I saw Jane Seymour naked, and that woman still looks as good as when she was a Bond Girl back in the day!
How about television projects?
BL: In the reality styled TV show Sex in Public that was just release in October on TLC I appear as a young girl who is gets tangled up in an internet romance in the 5th and 6th episode of the show. In Die Boland Moorde I played an actress whose co-actor gets killed in the first episode. This was an Afrikaans South African TV series that was shown on the KykNet TV channel. I was very comfortable as I knew most of the crew and cast, because on the other episodes I worked as a gaffer on this series. So it was interesting to be behind and in front of the camera on the same TV show. The challenge in this was that I had Afrikaans dialogue. Until this project, I had never appeared on TV talking Afrikaans.
They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?
BL: We as human beings are very interesting creatures; we have a lot of different heritage, culture and social influences. All the characters I choose to play, I tend to relate to on a deeper level. The thing I choose to do is delve into my past roots (eg. My ethnicity is German, thus I played a German woman subjected to NS rape), I delved into the different cultures I grew up in, thus one of them being South African (I ended up getting an Afrikaans speaking South African UN military role), language is also very important. I can speak 3 languages fluently (English, German and Afrikaans) and as soon as I embraced those cultures surrounding those languages within me, it is easier for me to relate to the characters.
You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?
BL: Language, culture, social norms and patterns, and heritage are extremely important for me when choosing projects. If I relate to them on any level, I will give my best to do the character justice. Also, I like a challenge. I love thinking outside the box and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. So if I don’t think I can relate to the character on those above-mentioned levels, I will try finding something else that does make me relate to a character. I love human psychology and am amazed how the human brain thinks, (personally, in a partnership and in a social setting) how humans feel and relate to each other and how people are driven and motivated by different emotions. This amazes me, and is very different to every single character that I have played.
Can you list some of the theatre projects you've participated in up until now, and the roles you’ve played?
BL: Smells Like Poor I did earlier this year and played the character Birgit. This was the first time the project was staged in English, and it was directed and written by Agusto Latino. Last year I played Teresa in Italian American Reconciliation and Maggie in Cat on the Hot Tin Roof both at the Victory Theatre in Los Angeles. Back home is South Africa, I performed in many contemporary and realist plays such as Julie in Stindberg’s Miss Julie and Celily in Oscar Wild’s Importance of being Earnest.
What has been your favorite project so far and why?
BL: My favorite project so far most probably is Maquisard. That was such an interesting project to have acted in, because I liked the action training in it. I loved putting my stunt training to use, and the cast and crew were so great to work with. We shot outside of LA for a few days in the desert and we all lived together and bonded.
What has been your most challenging role?
BL: The most challenging role I have played is actually a project that we just shot last month. It is called Cans and Candles, and I play a starving lesbian actress in LA. This was challenging because a) I’m heterosexual, so I had to delve into making the relationship of my lesbian partner realistic and show that we had substance and history in our partnership and b) make the character’s life circumstances realistic by eating out of cans for a few days and counting every penny that I spent. This project will soon be released and sent to festivals. The director on this project gave us a lot of freedom by trusting me and my co-star and letting us experiment with the emotional highs and lows of the script.
What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?
BL: My favorite genres are action and drama. Action because I have a lot of stunt training and have always been good with my physical movements. Drama because I feel that we get to experience life on a higher and more intense level, which becomes euphoric to portray.
What separates you from other actors? What are your strongest qualities?
BL: I have theatre training; therefore I try understanding every character I play on a much deeper level, that being physical, psychological, sociological, physiological and socio-economical. And with that theatre training, it enables me to breakdown the script and build up a character with technique. I am also very multi-cultural and have probably seen a lot more of the world than any other girl my age --I was born in South Africa, a third world country, to white German middle class parents, got my degree, traveled to Europe and worked as a caretaker for elderly people for a year and then moved to the states alone to pursue acting. And all these experiences have given me a lot to take from the world around me, and a lot of world wise maturity and experience that I bring to characters.
Can you list some of the people you’ve worked with that our readers might know?
BL: I’ve worked with Chris Pine (I was featured in Wet Hot American Summer), Brandon Mychal Smith (featured in You’re the Worst), Angie Harmon (in Rizzolli and Isles), James D’Arcy (Marvel’s Agent Carter), Cuba Golding Jnr, John Travolta, Steve Aoki and many more A-listers.
What projects do you have coming up?
BL: I have a film project coming up next year with the same director of Fives. The new project is called Demystifying Love. I can’t say too much about that yet. And then I'm also in the process of writing my first dramatic film called www.amour or alternatively called White Slave, which challenges the Internet dating scene these days and how women are targeted to false personas.
What are your plans for the future?
BL: My plan for the next year is to focus on commercials and hopefully land a big national commercial. After that, hopefully land a series regular role on a TV show. And eventually my end goal is become a working film actress who produces really good work. I don’t care if I become rich or famous, those things are fleeting. What I really care about is producing a really good quality body of work in my life where people can look up to and be inspired from.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?
BL: What I want to do as an actress is to change the world through my work. I want to inspire people to think in a different way, and I want to challenge people’s imagination. Specific themes that lie close to my heart at this point of time in my life are: women power and the abuse of women (physical and emotional). I feel like women in this day and age need empowerment and need positive reinforcement ALL over the world in order to escape victimization.
Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?
BL: Acting is my passion because I like to live and explore someone else’s world for the improvement of humanity. The need to express various characters in this art form brings the possibility of inspiring other peoples lives through the characters I portray, and I hope these stories change their lives for the better. Even if it seems like a farfetched idea, changing someone’s life on a miniscule level can mean the world to that one person. This is the beauty of the process of filming a story.