Q&A: Tom Tykwer, Franka Potente on the frenzy of ‘Run Lola Run’ and its theatrical re-release

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This image released by Sony Pictures Classics shows Franka Potente in a scene from "Run Lola Run." (Bernd Spauke/Sony Pictures Classics via AP)

Lola’s red hair might have been a mistake. Not the color, mind you. Franka Potente’s electric locks in “Run Lola Run” are as intrinsic to the adrenaline rush of her sprint through Berlin as the film’s heart-racing electronic score. Given the choice now, however, Potente would say no to bleaching her hair three times in one day.

Still, regrets are few about the film and the whirlwind frenzy of its life-changing success. And when you’re 22 and making an experimental indie with like-minded, convention-defying peers, hair damage is not top of mind. It was just part of the reckless fun of making this wild film about a woman who has 20 minutes to try to collect 100,000 Deutschmarks to save her boyfriend’s life.

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For its 25th anniversary, Sony Pictures Classics is sending a beautiful 4K restoration of “Run Lola Run” to theaters nationwide this weekend. Filmmaker Tom Tykwer even got to fix some of the tiny problems that have bothered him over the years.

“It's now the pristine and super nice ‘perfect’ version of a still beautifully imperfect movie," he said.

The AP spoke to Potente and Tykwer about the wild ride that was “Run Lola Run,” its impact and influence. Remarks have been edited for clarity and brevity.

AP: This is embarrassing, but I kind of became aware of the movie because I saw a photo of Natalie Portman dressed as Lola at a Halloween Party.

POTENTE: She told me that she did that! I was like, oh my god. Tom has stories like that too. Even today these cool little things surface. Didn’t Gregory Peck’s widow say that Gregory Peck saw and loved “Run Lola Run” before he passed? Those were moments ...

TYKWER: I remember we were already shooting “The Princess and the Warrior,” and we were in a hotel in Wuppertal, Germany, and sleeping and the reception calls and says, “I have Dustin Hoffman on the phone.” I’m like “ha ha ha, I’m sleeping.” It was the middle of the night, and he had just seen the movie and was completely flipping out, like “I want to be in your next movie.” I said, “We’re already shooting.” And he’s like “Where are you? I’m coming.” “But it’s German language.” “I don’t care.”

POTENTE: Six months later he was in Berlin, and I drove him around in my car that had tons of cigarette butts and trash and he loved it. He was like oh my god this is an adventure, like with these little punks. I was driving a Saab 900, so many cigarette butts and red bull cans.

TYKWER: I made a movie with him seven years later ("Perfume: The Story of a Murderer").

AP: Lola has been so referenced in pop culture, a Bon Jovi music video, an episode of the children’s show “Phineas and Ferb.” Have you seen many? Do you have a favorite?

TYKWER: “The Simpsons” one is great. It was funny because no one ever asked, and I suddenly saw it watching television. I was like, you even took our music. It was probably better than any awards we could have ever got. Now forever we are in “The Simpsons.”

I’ve actually even been in talks about a TV series. If the concept is interesting, why not do it? Either it reminds people of how good our film is or people will be like "that’s a good variation." Quoting and remaking and rethinking and reinventing is also what I do as a filmmaker. So, I like it. Even if it fails, I like it.

AP: What's it like watching it on the big screen again?

TYKWER: I never watch my movies again. Once they’re done, I’m done. The most incredible thing about it is that for any film that you make, there comes a time when you suddenly are really able to watch it as the audience and not as the person that was there all the time. It emancipated from you. I’m just older. I’m not the guy anymore who made this film. And I watched it as if I was the audience. It’s so nice. I so enjoyed Franka, who’s so energetically enigmatic and, in this new transfer, glowing in a way.

AP: Where do you think “Run Lola Run” fits in cinematic history?

TYKWER: In the end of the '90s there were some quite important films, and I’m happy to say maybe we were one of them. There was stuff like “The Matrix” and a movie like “Man on the Moon,” this really great, strange film that Miloš Forman did with Jim Carrey.

At the time, at the turn of the millennium, filmmaking strategy went through a renewal and I think we were a tiny part of this. The reinvention of television, I think it was ignited by cinema and by the new ways of storytelling. We’re just one — not irrelevant — spark in there.

AP: What was the frenzy like around the time of its release?

POTENTE: It’s comparable to, in my mind, what a musician’s life might be like, like a rock star or a stereotyped idea of what that would be like. And that’s what it was like for probably a year or two. By the time we got an MTV Award, I was like, I’m done. I’m not even going. I didn’t even go and pick it up. I couldn’t. It was just I was like, I’m going to be on the couch. It’s crazy. Why didn’t I go? I should have gone.

AP: Were you surprised that it caught on like it did?

TYKWER: You have to remember it was a small, super independently financed film. It got lots of head-scratching from those people who brought money in, like “it starts three times, that doesn’t make a movie.” One of the things I loved was that it seemed like an action movie, but with a strong emotional center and quite a lot of structural and philosophical substance underneath. I thought you can bring all this together in a movie. It’s why I was mentioning “The Matrix” which was like the big scale sibling to us. That’s how we all got to know each other, we both reached out and were like “who are you and what are you trying?” That’s what the energy was.

We never imagined the voyage the movie would take. It was a nerdy, quirky movie that we only made because we loved making it. We were really innocent kids. Maybe that’s part of the beauty and the energy of the film and why it’s so delightful. I could never do it now. I’m not that person anymore unfortunately.

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