Marie Theres Kroetz-Relin was born in Munich in 1966 to film director Veit Relin and international movie icon Maria Schell. She made her first movie Secret Places in 1983 and spent the following years working on various TV productions as well as German director Sönke Wortmann’s acclaimed short film Drei D. In 1987 Marie Theres was awarded Best Young Actress at the annual German television awards Goldenen Kamera.
The same year also marks the sudden end of her career as an actress. The reason: she fell in love with playwright and actor Franz Xaver Kroetz, choosing a career as a mother of three children. In 2002, she launched the website Hausfrauenrevolution.com, a discussion board for housewives - and husbands. Today, Marie Theres works as a freelance journalist and successful book author - and is a happy divorcee.
So you think this is a rather meagre curriculum? I’m happy to tell you more. But this time from bottom to top:
…Is not a vintage year. My weekly column Weibsstück, the follow-up of Muttern, is cancelled after 6 ½ years. The book about my family still hasn’t been published. And even Hausfrauenrevolution.com is short of domestic bliss: my utopian dream of housewives in revolution has got the seven year itch.
But what are crises for, if not to reflect and start again from scratch? Hausfrauenrevolution.com is going back to its roots and gets a new look. And wait – what did I always want to do when I grew up? Right. Dancing and singing onstage. Dixiemania is born: I write, learn how to sing and dance. I practice, dream and realize - step by step.
… I’m almost finished with the book about my famous family when fate decides to thwart my work: On March 27th, my son falls down the cliffs and 92 feet into the deep. He survives the accident with only four broken ribs – a miracle! Traumatized and with little strength left, I finish my book. The publishing house rejects the manuscript and wants me to remodel it into a more sensationalist one, which I refuse. I fight to get back the rights. On a positive note: after 12 years in my drawer, my children’s book Der kleine Dichter (The little poet) is being published.
… I hit on the idea to research my roots and end up finding my family. During the summer, I travel through five countries and drill down on every little detail, writing obsessively and conducting a successful family consolidation on the side. I’m back on camera in time for my first divorce anniversary on November 20th, joining my ex-husband and my daughter in a movie about a traditional Bavarian literary figure, Die Geschichte vom Brandner Kaspar.
… Wie Frauen ticken, a book co-written with Hauke Brost about why women think and act the way they do, is published in full. 140,000 sold copies make the book a success and me a best-selling author. On November 20th, the divorce from my poet Franz Xaver Kroetz becomes operative. In on it is our daughter Josephine, who writes an article about the cheerful divorce of her parents and thus gets a job for her first book.
… My mother is dead. I receive the news on the 26th of April and it feels like a knife in the chest.
Thankful that she was able to leave her ‘twilight zone’ so peacefully, I face the media hunt with fear. Photoflashes everywhere, even when her casket is lowered into the ground - my mother leaves this world the way she always lived: as the famous world star on the one hand, and as the simple mountain girl on the other. My view on life changes: I separate from my husband and file for divorce after 18 years.
- 1997 – 2002
… I become an all-rounder in my job as a housewife, gaining in experience and speaking 5 languages by now. Still, I am unsatisfied. In 1998, we buy a little house on Tenerife. I suffer from the isolation that being a housewife brings about and feel like my creative potential is going to waste. More and more I think about the image of the housewife, her not being acknowledged and her less than bright future prospects. I become sick with a pulmonary embolism and have to have my hyperthyroidism treated. After twelve years at home, I am offered a part in the TV thriller Denninger and accept the offer gratefully. The media is regaining interest in my person, but rather than talking about my comeback as an actress, I reroute the journalists’ focus on housewifely existence. On November 21st, 2002 I launch Hausfrauenrevolution.com and marvel at the 2,700 visitor on the very first day. My life as a writer begins.
…My children suffer from asthma, so we flee to Tenerife during the winters. But even there I am confronted with the tabloids milking my mother’s bankruptcy. Thank God that later people only know me as Mary, the mom next door.
- 1994 – 1995
… I’m diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and my doctors tell me that I am infertile. “We’ll see about that”, says my husband. The result: Ferdinand Franz Valentin, born on May 31st, 1995. At 29 years of age I am a mother of three and on duty 24/7.
Shortly after her 90th birthday, my grandmother dies, leaving my heavily indebted and already bipolar mother devastated.
- 1992 – 1993
... My daughter Magdalena Anna Marie is born on February 13th, 1992. Franz Xaver Kroetz and I tie the knot a month later on March 5th. Our maid of honor is my mother and instead of me, my daughter Josephine says “I do”. It’s an exciting phase to go through by my poet’s side, with the children always in our wake. During the winter months we travel to India, Southern America, Thailand and many other places. I also join my husband on his business related trips, manage the family and learn a hell of a lot.
… The movie I shot with my mother is not as successful as we had hoped. My mother becomes aware of the fact the she has spent too much money already and goes from a manic to a depressive episode. Thinking that spending time with her granddaughter would take her mind off of things, I invite her to live with us. Nevertheless, she tries to commit suicide. All run down I long for a new life – and get pregnant again!
- 1989 – 1990
… I am a young mother and drunk with love. In 1989, I have a part in the TV series Peter Strohm. The following year, I shoot the TV movie Le dernier mot with my mother in Paris. She is not doing well and is going through a depressive episode, making working with her no picnic. For some reason, she can’t cope with the fact that I’m an actress as well. By selling the house I grew up in, she also sells a part of herself. All of a sudden she’s flush with cash again, but instead of saving it for later she spends it freely. I focus on my little family and on being a mother myself.
… I play a role in Sönke Wortmann’s Academy Award nominated short film Drei D and act on stage for the very first time in Zurich.
Not the brightest when it comes to contraceptives, I get pregnant by my poet. A rather lucky occurrence in retrospect – it’s great to be a young mother! Thanks to some blabbermouth I share the news with the rest of the world when it makes headlines only two weeks after I learn about the little creature growing inside me myself.
My daughter Josephine Alma Maria is born on October 25, 1988.
… My career seems to go through the roof. Hollywood is calling. Prank-calling. I receive the Goldene Kamera award as Best Young Actress for Das unverhoffte Glück. A panel discussion in Munich basically ends my career: Can we save love? was the question, and among the panellists was playwright, director and actor Franz Xaver Kroetz, much talked of for his role as tabloid reporter Baby Schimmerlos in the highly acclaimed TV series Kir Royal. He asks me for a cigarette – and that’s it. By chance we meet again in a TV studio on July 1st. 13 days later I move in with him. Can we save love? Yes we can!
- 1984 – 1986
… I’m big in the acting business. Secret Places wins an award at the film festival in Toronto (Canada) and I take home my first actor award from the festival in Taormina (Italy). The New York Times compares me to the young Ingrid Bergmann. Does this mean that a star is born? In 1984, I work on a German TV production and the Italian mini series Quo Vadis. Worn out from working in Belgrade, I swear to myself to never ever shoot a series again. The following two years, I shoot a French two-parter, one episode of the German crime series Derrick and the TV movie Das unverhoffte Glück (The unexpected luck), definitely bringing some unexpected luck along.
… I live in Paris, master the French language, study acting and miming, and slowly mature towards adulthood. I am offered the lead in the British movie Secret Places. At 17 years of age I am fully employed, make my own living and start my acting career.
… I drop out of school at 16 and go to Paris to learn French and take acting classes, aided by my aunt Immy because - as usual - my mother spends her time on stage. What else is left in the basket for me but to become an actress? I cut my teeth on it.
- 1978 – 1981
… I spend my childhood in Heberthal near Wasserburg am Inn in Bavaria. My mother is a typical career woman: hardly ever at home. But when she is, she is a top-notch mom. My father works a lot, too, and equally doesn’t really have time for parenting. Thankfully, I have a great grandmother called Omutti. She teaches me everything I need to know for my future life as a poet’s wife, being that she, too, has a poet for a husband and sacrificed her acting career for her family.
As Maria Schell’s daughter, my each and every move is documented from the very beginning. Very soon, I learn how to perfect my permanent smile, even when I feel like crying. And, needless to say, being the daughter of someone famous doesn’t really grant you any favours in school, either.
- 1976 – 1977
… My mother has an engagement on Broadway for Pavel Kohout’s Poor Murder and brings me along. Also on board: my grandmother, as usual. I start to learn English, live on Central Park and take ballet classes – at last.
- 1972 – 1975
… Me and my older brother Oliver (from my mother’s first marriage) are brought up in a truly bohemian environment. I am a child of love and have a wonderful childhood. In 1971, I play my first little role with my parents in my father’s movie Die Pfarrhauskomödie. Early on, I have a sense for business: My father loves a poem that I learn in kindergarten, and asks me every day to recite it. I think it’s silly and refuse until he forks out at least 5 Marks and gives me the part.
In 1974 and 1975, my parents read out Mozart’s letters at the Salzburg Festival. On stage with them are my brother as little Wolfgang and I as Nannerl. Influenced by music and theatre, I want to become a dancer and study with the state ballet in Munich, but my mother objects with a precise “no!”.
- 1966 – 1971
… I am born on June 30th, 1966. My parents are Maria Schell and Veit Relin. According to my mother, right after being born I spent five minutes examining her, the next five minutes to examine my father, and then slept through the whole subsequent two weeks. Did I already anticipate what was about to come back then? Maybe!