From being Nan Goldin’s muse to his role as a Bond villain, from his membership in Germany’s Social Democratic Party to performing for soldiers in Afghanistan, Clemens Schick is hard to pin down. At the time of the interview, he is currently performing in “Windows”: an hour-plus solo show at Sophiensaele where Schick plays Bill Gates as he slowly loses control over his digitally enhanced life. There is only a rudimentary script, and the heavily improvised show is hyper-intense. Taking on a totally different role, Schick has also just been named as a brand ambassador for German luxury brand Montblanc.
We interviewed Schick at the shoot for a Montblanc x SLEEK editorial. Slipping seamlessly between the roles of an actor talking about his craft, a model and a Montblanc spokesperson, Schick effortlessly displayed the versatility that has shaped his whole career.
We’re doing this interview on the set of fashion shoot. How important is dressing up when getting into character?
Acting is very much about understanding a character’s psyche. So anything that can help my get this person, I work with. The costume I wear is one of most important elements in this process. Also the shoes can really make a role: they change how you walk and hold yourself and that often is a first glimpse into someone’s mind.
Your Bill Gates wears track-pants and a slipover sweater.
This costume is actually about not defining the character too much. When I first played it over ten years ago I was wearing this satin college jacket which could have been something that Bill Gates might have worn while at college. Unfortunately I gave that away. But the most important piece are the glasses anyway. Much of my Bill Gates can be found in the way I handle this pair of prescription glasses. How I place them on the table, how I breathe on them.
You modeled for Nan Goldin when you met her in Berlin in 1996. What was it like to work with her?
She completely changed how saw the world. We became friends and spend many nights working together. That taught me a lot about observing situations and how to develop a feel for the moment. She just has an incredible eye. Of course, I felt like I needed to be worthy of her attention. In fact, the first suit I bought – a vintage number with pinstripes – was for when we first went out.
The accessories you’re wearing in this shoot are from Montblanc. How did you become their ambassador?
I met them around 2003, 2004 at one of their events before and on the day of the Oscars. A couple of years later the invited me to perform „Windows“ on one of these nights. And at some point they must have realized that I would make a good brand ambassador. And I do: I’m big fan of their craft. Any craft really – whether it’s lighting, costume design or journalism. I just enjoy it when people are passionate about what they do. Same with Montblanc: they even have someone who adjusts the nibs on their fountain pens to perfectly match a customer’s handwriting.
What about you: do you still write by hand a lot?
Actually, yes. I never travel without my writing kit. I even have my own stationery. It’s one of the things I indulge in. I write a lot of postcards too. Whenever I travel I buy vintage postcards. At home there’s a select group of friends who gets to enjoy them.