While European TV fans may know 53-year-old Richard Sammel as the Nazi police chief in love with the mayor of Villeneuve’s wife in “Un Village Francais,” American moviegoers are more likely to remember him as the German sergeant at the wrong end of Eli Roth’s baseball bat in “Inglourious Basterds.” Currently, he’s Thomas Eichhorst, a mysterious figure with an unnatural past, on FX’s “The Strain.”
The Heidelberg native, who studied music and dance, as well as theater, says his break came when he was cast in Giorgio Barberio Corsetti’s 1989 international legit production “Durante la costruzione della muraglia cinese” (During the Construction of the Chinese Wall), which put him in touch with Susan Strasberg, under whom he studied. “The stage is big and impressive; it’s all about exposure,” he says. “Method acting was exactly the opposite.”
Sammel most wants to make a mark in America. He’s acted in some notable U.S. productions, including “Inglourious Basterds,” “3 Days to Kill” and “Casino Royale,” though he’s never shot a film inside the U.S.
Sammel credits his fluency in languages (French, German, Italian and English), and his ability to dance, play instruments (mandolin, guitar and violin), and be an acrobat as the reasons he was free to be so footloose in his pursuit of acting around Europe. “I moved around a lot,” he says.
For his role as Eichhorst, Sammel is excited about two particular episodes this season that highlight the sinister motives of his character. “They told me from the beginning it wasn’t supposed to be such a big part,” he says. But things have changed, with Sammel’s character gaining more screen time as the Guillermo del Toro-created program readies for a second season.