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‘Barbaren’ or ‘Barbarians’: Meet Laurence Rupp, David Schütter and the cast of the war drama set in 9 AD

The German-language follows three childhood friends who are linked by a tragic fate. They become the all-important force in the fight against the superior Roman power

Netflix’s ‘Barbaren’ or ‘Barbarians’, a German-language show set in the year 9 AD is sure to make for a spectacular watch. The series’ trailer looks dark, violent, and full of intrigue, setting a dark tone for a time period in European history that is not often examined in popular culture. 

The show will see several Germanic tribes uniting to challenge the almost invincible Roman legions in a legendary battle that would forever change the course of European history -- The battle in the Teutoburg Forest. At the center of this bloody clash, per Netflix, are three childhood friends who are linked by a tragic fate. They become the all-important force in the fight against the superior Roman power. Their path is marked by loyalty and betrayal, love, and hate; and ultimately, it proves to be a test of their friendship.

In the show, the Cheruscan prince's daughter Thusnelda (Jeanne Goursaud) and the warrior Folkwin (David Schütter), who are secretly a couple, find themselves in the midst of a battle when the Roman occupiers under governor Varus (Gaetano Aronica) extort oppressive tributes from the various constantly-battling Germanic tribes. 

Thusnelda and Folkwin, then decide to act on their own and humiliate the empire. To avenge the shame, the Roman governor sends out his foster son Arminius (Laurence Rupp). But the young Roman officer has a secret that connects him closely with Thusnelda and Folkwin. He is then forced to choose a side and betray the other. 

When casting the leading actors, the show’s producers, per Netflix, deliberately did not want big stars. Rather, they wanted to find experienced actors who were perfect for their respective roles and who the audience could discover for themselves. So, let’s take a look at the cast members:

Gaetano Aronica as Varus

Gaetano Aronica. (Netflix)

The 57-year-old Italian actor is best known for his roles in ‘Malena’, ‘Il capo dei capi’, and ‘Paul VI: The Pope in the Tempest’. Aronica serves as the president of the Luigi Pirandello Theater in Agrigento.

Jeanne Goursaud as Thusnelda

Jeanne Goursaud. (Netflix)

The 24-year-old French-German actor is best known for her roles in ‘The 15:17 to Pari’, ‘In Wahrheit: Mord am Engelsgraben’, and ‘Dieter Not Unhappy’. She is also known for her roles in the German-Australian series ‘In Your Dreams’ and the comedy series ‘Der Lehrer’.

As per Goursaud, “Thusnelda is a woman with dreams and goals for which she fights with all her heart and body. She strives for justice and freedom -- not only for herself but also for her tribe and all of Germania. She is impulsive and passionate. For the people she loves, she would do anything.”

About the show, she said, “‘Barbarians’ tells a true story: The Varus Battle in the Teutoburg Forest. The costumes, the architecture of the villages etc. were all made with a historical advisor’s suggestions. The series tells, among other things, the story of a strong woman, as one might not necessarily expect in the historical context. I haven't played a character like this before and I found it very exciting.”

David Schütter as Folkwin

David Schütter. (Netflix)

The 29-year-old German actor is the grandson of the actor, director, and theater director Friedrich Schütter. David completed his acting training at the School for Drama Hamburg in 2012. He is best known for his work on ‘Charlie's Angels’, ‘Strawberry Bubblegums’, and ‘Never Look Away’.

Speaking of his character, Schütter said, “Folkwin is a young man who lives, loves, laughs and cries without a care -- and yet, he carries a lot of anger within itself because of the injustice that he faces because of his origin and his social class.”

He further says, “What I love about my role is that it shows us that emotionality can be a large and important part of masculinity without making one appear weak in the slightest.”

Laurence Rupp as Arminius

Laurence Rupp. (Netflix)

The 33-year-old Austrian theater and film actor is best known for his roles in ‘Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation’, ‘Dead in 3 Days’, and ‘Cops’. He was part of the ensemble at the Vienna Burgtheater. He is now a member of the Berliner Ensemble.

About the show, Rupp said, “Being able to play this role made a childhood dream come true. Which little boy doesn't even want to portray a great warrior on a horse with armor? Also, this story has something epic about it. Every plot is existential, similar to the works of ancient Greece. It was a pleasure to play this role.”

Speaking about his role, Rupp said, “Arminius, who was born in Germania and spent most of his life growing up in Rome, is an astute, intelligent, tactically thinking person with great martial skills, who also understands politics. Because of a terrible experience in his childhood, which he can no longer let go, he is still driven by an energy that eventually overpowers him and he then questions his identity, which in turn leads to horrific acts. Also, he has a big heart that has a lot of love to give.”

The show also stars Bence Ferenczi, Tibor Milos Krisko, Jeremy Miliker, Bernhard Schütz, Eva Verena Müller, Sergej Onopko, Florian Schmidtke, Sinha Melina Gierke, Iris Baumüller, Nikolai Kinski, among others. 

‘Barbaren’ or ‘Barbarians’ will premiere on Netflix on October 23.