Til tackles ‘Tatort’

Bigscreen star joins cast of German detective series

BERLIN — While it’s the usual trajectory for a TV star to make the leap to movies, it’s not often the case to find a major movie star stepping to the smallscreen.

But not German powerhouse Til Schweiger, arguably the most successful actor on Germany’s bigscreen, who recently announced he’s joining the cast of a German TV detective series “Tatort,” now in its 41st year and still going strong.

It’s not that Schweiger needs the work; apart from numerous starring roles, he is producer, director, and star of three recent romantic comedy blockbusters, which bagged him a combined domestic B.O. of almost $140 million.

Originally created to share costs among the various regional stations, the show rotates across the German states, plus Austria and Switzerland, focusing on different sets of police detectives in weekly 90-minute episodes.

A recent episode of “Tatort” racked up an audience of 6.3 million viewers, but was considered a ratings flop; a May 1 episode brought in a whopping 11.9 million, the highest rating since 2000.

Schweiger was tapped to replace Mehmet Kurtulus, who plays Cenk Batu, the current Hamburg detective. His first episode will shoot in September and he’s expected to star in two episodes per year — the normal rotation.

It is also speculated that Schweiger’s company, Barfuss, could take over production of his episodes.

The series has always tapped top local talent — such as Christoph Waltz — and has acted as a proving ground for directors such as Wolfgang Petersen and Robert Schwentke. Sam Fuller also directed an episode, which was later released theatrically in the U.S. as “Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street.”

No stranger to the genre, Schweiger’s early career included a two-year run as a regular in another police show, “Die Kommissarin.” The actor says he grew up a “Tatort” fan, and as a tyro actor dreamed of guesting on the series as Horst Schimanski, one of its longest-running characters.

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