Best of Berlin
The cast and crew of the new thriller ‘Unknown’ — showing at the Berlin International Film Festival — spill all on filming in the city.
One year ago, when the producers and stars of Unknown arrived in Berlin, it was an inhospitable 16 degrees below zero. Despite the chilly welcome, the filmmakers behind the Warner Bros. pic, opening Feb. 18, were won over by the vibrant city — a compelling mix of ultratraditional bastions and constantly percolating hot spots. With starring roles for such landmarks as the Brandenburg Gate and Museum Island, Berlin is practically a character in the film, which stars Liam Neeson as a crash victim whose identity is assumed by another man (Aidan Quinn). Here are the spots where the Unknown troupe ate and hung out during the film’s four-month shoot.
Liam Neeson’s Luxe Hotel
Neeson was pampered at the Regent Berlin, one of the city’s most opulent hotels (from about $300, Charlottenstrasse 49, regenthotels.com), and dined regularly at its Fischers Fritz restaurant (Berlin’s only Michelin two-star establishment). “We had dinner with Liam a few times there,” Unknown producer Leonard Goldberg says. “They have superb fish. Liam knows about wine, so he did the ordering, and I dare say, we finished several bottles.”
January Jones’ Wiener schnitzel and Red Beer
After the table read, the cast headed to 200-year-old Lutter & Wegner (Charlottenstrasse 56, l-w-berlin.de). The group feasted on the renowned wiener schnitzel, and co-star and South Dakota native Jones introduced her tablemates to one of her favorite stateside drinks, Red Beer, but not everyone loved the concoction of tomato juice and brew. Another favorite cast spot was the 4-year-old Grill Royal (Friedrichstrasse 105B, grillroyal.com), a chic steakhouse on the Spree River.
Diane Kruger’s Dive Bar
“The Wurgeengel Bar is this really cool local hangout,” Germany born co-star Kruger says of this old-fashioned cocktail bar (Dresdner Strasse 122, wuergeengel.de).“It’s in Kreuzberg, my favorite neighborhood,” adds the actress, who lived in the hip area during filming. Her apartment was inhabited by Quentin Tarantino when he shot Inglourious Basterds.
Leonard Goldberg’s Birthday Bash
His wife, philanthropist Wendy Goldberg, threw a birthday party for Leonard at the famed Hotel Adlon (from about $300, Unter den Linden 77, kempinski.com), where the production filmed for two weeks. “I took a private room overlooking the Brandenburg Gate,” she says. “They made a replica of the gate as a cake. It was the most elegant dinner.”
Joel Silver’s Out-of-the-Way Finds
During the past six years, Unknown producer Silver has become a Berlin aficionado, having shot five movies there, including Speed Racer. While many visitors head to the KaDeWe department store’s sumptuous food court (Tauentzienstrasse 21-24, kadewe.de), Silver can’t resist the locals-favored Rogacki deli (Wilmersdorfer Strasse 145, rogacki.de), which boasts more than 200 kinds of cured and fresh meats. He loves Monsieur Vuong (Alte Schonhauser Strasse 46, monsieurvuong.de), a no-frills Vietnamese noodle place, for its wonton soup. For street food, Silver and his team often grab a currywurst: sliced sausage in curried ketchup. In one scene, Neeson even ate a wurst or two. “I think he ate one every take,” director Jaume Collet-Serra says. “He must have actually eaten four or five. He enjoyed it.”