Mr Müller, you are the master of parodies. Your portrayals of Christoph Blocher or Moritz Leuenberger have a cult following far beyond Switzerland. Now you've been asked to do Ernst Fischer from the Fischer Bettwarenfabrik for the Trivadis campaign. What attracted you to the role? Or to put it another way: What prompted you to participate?
I am basically a curious contemporary and love new challenges. "Fischer" had of course been on my list for a long time, and the fact that I got the chance to play him for Trivadis in this case was a stroke of luck.
As is well known, you prepare meticulously for a role, study the language, facial expressions and gestures of the person you want to parody. What was it like preparing for the role of Ernst Fischer?
Basically the same as for all "victims". Studying videos, checking dialect and studying gestures. And finally, identifying external features. Clothing, accessories (glasses, watch, jewellery, etc.).
On a scale of 1-10, how difficult was this role? Also compared to Blocher or Leuenberger?
I would say around "7". Blocher was a real stroke of luck because he practically fell into my lap in terms of physicality and dialect, and Moritz Leuenberger was also a lucky case thanks to his very distinctive posture, language and gestures, which I internalised rather easily.
Ernst Fischer’s appearance in the commercial already looks like a parody in itself. How did you manage to add your own signature?
That’s right. That is why he inspires the most diverse "parodists" to imitate him. My aim in this case for Trivadis was to make Fischer instantly recognisable, while at the same time showing that it is WAM who is parodying him.
My aim in this case for Trivadis was to make Fischer instantly recognisable, while at the same time showing that it is WAM who is parodying him.
The well-known Fischer commercial has already been re-enacted several times. For the layperson, it is probably primarily the monotonous nature in the otherwise rather euphoric advertising setting that makes it so special. How does your trained eye see this?
I see it as a "total package". At the time, his monotonous, static appearance was an absolute novelty in the hectic "carnival barker" ad landscape. Suddenly there was someone who wanted to sell his own product without fuss and fanfare, and that really hit home with the TV audience.
Was the Ernst Fischer parody a one-off or is he now firmly established in your repertoire?
No, no! I think this should remain a one-off, exclusive thing! Such performances often run the risk of becoming "overkill". I don't want other companies to come to me also asking me to be a "Fischer". Ultimately, this is how you lose credibility.
In September you will celebrate your 76th birthday, but are active as ever. Is retirement an issue for you at all? Or is it rather the “restlessness” that keeps you busy?
Sometimes I think about cutting back. But when exciting tasks present themselves – like this one – I can't say no!
So instead of looking into the past, let's look further into the future. What kind of role would you like to have before the end of your career?
I often say that a good (major) film role would still fit into my diverse repertoire. That's what I'm missing. On the other hand, I can live with it. I have done so many different things in my life that in the end it doesn't bother me much anymore.
I'm happy when my mobile and my Mac work – and I'm at my wits' end when they don't! I really get annoyed and my blood starts boiling.
In an interview, you also describe yourself as a rubber face and common-man face. In times of deepfakes, you can put on any face, at least in the multimedia environment. Which one would you like to go home with?
This is really a difficult question! I hate this fake mentality and actually want to stay out of it. I appreciate an honest, home-grown and worked-out result – if I have understood the question correctly.
Let's stay on the topic of technology. In the Trivadis advert, you are talking about data centres, databases and the cloud. Your role seems to be very competent in this regard – but how tech-savvy are you yourself? What is beeping, flashing or running in terms of technology in your private life?
Haha! Not at all! I am an absolute technical know-nothing. I'm happy when my mobile and my Mac work and I'm at my wits' end when they don't! I really get annoyed and my blood starts boiling.
It wasn't possible to become famous through the Internet and channels such as YouTube, Instagram or TikTok in the early days. Influencer or YouTube star – would that be something that the young Walter Andreas Müller could have identified with?
If I had grown up with it, I would probably have been interested in the connections. But I'm not interested in being an influencer nor a YouTube star.
You also say about yourself that you cannot take criticism. Is the Internet, where practically everyone can comment everywhere and on everything, an ominous world for you?
At the very least, I try to stay away as best I can. Of course, you can't avoid criticism. If it is constructive, I have no problem with it. But often, these inane Internet critiques are primitive and hastily written, and that's annoying.
In this context: What kind of reactions would you like to see for the Trivadis commercial?
Hopefully only positive ones! Hopefully the viewers enjoy this Fischer-Trivadis-Swisscom juxtaposition and understand the joke!
Finally: Which question would you like to answer, but have never been asked?
Haven't you ever gotten tired of parodying people over and over again?
And what is the answer?
No! As long as there are “victims” that I can play with conviction and joy, I'll always be happy!
Walter Andreas Müller – WAM for short – is a gifted parodist, cabaret artist and one of the best-known actors in Switzerland. He is known from countless theatre productions, film and television. The whole country knows him, especially in his role as Hans Meier in the hit series "Fascht e Familie", which was broadcast on Friday evenings on Swiss television until 1999. WAM’s voice is also known across the country. He is the radio drama voice of Globi, the most successful children’s book character in Switzerland.