Home Television Soaps US Townhall RealStories presents: Thore Schölermann and Jo Weil of VERBOTENE LIEBE
US Townhall RealStories presents: Thore Schölermann and Jo Weil of VERBOTENE LIEBE
Written by Scott Katz   
Monday, 13 September 2010 01:59

As same-sex marriage continues to fuel debate in the United States, over in Germany one of their more popular soap operas has tackled the subject head on with a highly-publicized wedding between two of its major characters.  Same-sex weddings are not exactly a novel concept even in American television, but what made this one more notable is that it took place in a church, and was performed by what seemed to be a member of the clergy.

While same-sex marriage is legal in ten countries around the world and in five states and the District of Columbia within the United States, it is actually not currently allowed in Germany.  However, Germany does recognize Registered Partnerships for same-sex couples.

Earlier this month, on Friday, September 3, two popular male characters from the long-running German soap, Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love), were married in a church wedding.  Christian Mann (played by Thore Schölermann) was wed to Oliver "Olli" Sabel (played by Jo Weil) in the culmination of a long storyline that traced their relationship from acquaintances to friends to lovers.


1res verbotene liebe co wedding c ard foto  glitsch


In a time where American soap operas such as One Life to Live dropped its gay characters, attributing them to the decline in the show's ratings, it's interesting to see what's happening across the ocean.  We spoke to the actors about their characters and storyline in late August in an audio interview translated and transcribed below.  The actors recorded their answers in their native German so if you want to listen to what they sound like, even if you don't speak German, the audio clips are posted at the end of this article.  Enjoy!


THORE SCHÖLERMANN & JO WEIL: Hi American friends of Verbotene Liebe!  This is our first radio interview for the USA, but we thought we'll do it in our first language – German.  Here are Jo and Thore – and today you're only listening to our voices and don't see our faces [Editor's note: Don't worry, we have pictures of the guys throughout this article that were taken on the set of their characters' wedding]. Time to concentrate on our great answers – let's get started!


USTOWNHALL: How old are you both?

THORE: I'm a lot younger than Jo - I'm only 25 and Jo just turned 33, and I'm always happy to underline that!

JO: Did I already mention that I sometimes hate Thore? (laughs)


USTOWNHALL: Which American actors or film directors do you like?

THORE: I have a problem with names, but I like the actor from Lost with the long hair... he is a cool guy... what's his name again?

JO: Josh Holloway?

THORE: Yes, Josh Holloway – thank you Jo!


USTOWNHALL: Was there any uproar among the audience or in the news media about the fact that your chracters are seemingly about to be married in a church?

THORE: We got almost only positive reactions, be it newspapers or TV. But during the shooting of the wedding there was a guy who didn't want us to shoot in a church. He tried to boycott the shoot and we had to pause for one or one and a half hours. The guy just didn't want two men to marry in a church – so you see that also in tolerant Germany there's some catching-up to do. So I'm even more happy that we went through with the shooting!


2res verbotene liebe co wedding c ard foto  glitsch


USTOWNHALL: How does the role you play influence your personality and vice versa?

THORE: If you play in a TV series for such a long time – you always get a little bit influenced by the character you play and also vice versa. That's give and take. What more can I say... to be more precise: I transferred my love for horses to my character Christian – I just told our authors that I love horseback riding. And the character made me get around better with Jo (*irony) – no I'm only joking! We liked each other before!


USTOWNHALL: Have you heard from the gay fans of your show, and what have been their reactions to your characters?

THORE: To be honest, I don't ask my fans if they're gay or not – I make no difference. But I heard from the ones who told me they were gay that they could really identify with our roles – especially when Christian had his coming out. Almost all reactions were positive. But like I said, I don't ask my fans if they are gay because it doesn't make a difference for me.


USTOWNHALL: Now, let's hear from Jo a bit.  Jo, besides VL, what other media have you acted in? e.g. film, theatre, other television shows?

JO: Before I came to Verbotene Liebe I was visiting an acting school – and then I was asked to play Olli. Then I worked some years for Verbotene Liebe before leaving the series to play at a theater, do some synchronizing and work for some other TV series. But I've been back at Verbotene Liebe now for almost four years. So Verbotene Liebe is a big part of my life.


USTOWNHALL: What would you like to do in your career in terms of roles to play or media you'd like to act in?

JO: That's an exciting question. I think it's difficult to tell what you want to do in the future because you can't influence it very much in our job. In general, I would like to go on working for a TV series, because I like the genre. Thore and I both have a favorite series in which we would like to play one day: Thore's favorite is Forsthaus Falkenau, mine is called Traumschiff – it's something like Love Boat and Thore's is a little bit like Dawson's Creek without all the cool characters and only with the creek ;-)

I just love to be an actor and I will let myself be surprised what's coming next. But one thing is for sure – I would love to work in America one day!


USTOWNHALL: How long have you been on VL?

JO: Verbotene Liebe is a big part of my life. I've been playing Olli for almost ten years now – with a break of five years. But I've almost reached my 6th year playing Olli continuously – that's amazing. The role will always be a part of my life. We experienced a lot together – good things and bad things. So, meanwhile, Olli became a part of me in a way.


USTOWNHALL: How far in advance were you told that your characters would be entering into a same -sex relationship, and what were your initial reactions to that?

JO: I got a telephone call in 2007 and was asked to come back to Verbotene Liebe. And that was when they also told me about the storyline of "Christian & Olli." I watched some episodes then to see who Thore is and what he does. And I thought "Yes, that's a good story, and I want to do it". And so, I came back to VL and knew about the future storyline before Thore knew about it.

THORE: Oh, really?

JO: I think we almost got the news at the same time. And now the story lasts for more than three years – for a daily TV series that almost eternity! In real life we probably would be together for 57 years now ;-)


3res verbotene liebe co wedding c ard foto  glitsch


USTOWNHALL: Is there any story that has not been done for your characters that you wish the writers would do?

JO: Now I have to answer in favor of Thore, because he has a big dream: He wants Olli & Christian to take over the castle one day! And I'm also ok with that. We take over the castle, the Lahnstein family is our staff and we will enjoy the good life. Wealth, luxury, a big nightclub in the castle's basement and Thore is allowed to go hunting and horseback riding all day long in his role as "Christian." That's how we wish it to happen. We don't know if it will come true, but we are allowed to dream, aren't we?


USTOWNHALL: Guys, it's been a real pleasure getting to speak to you and helping to introduce you to the American audience – even by long distance.

THORE: It was very nice talking to you today. And I hope next time you can also see us, not only hear us. What do you think, Jo?

JO: I would be very happy – but it was really cool being on the radio. And I hope we see each other soon when we come over and visit you in the US. See you! Bye!



Verbotene Liebe was created by Reg Watson and premiered on the German television network, Das Erste ("The First"), on January 2, 1995.  It airs each weekday at 6 PM.  In 2005, it won the Golden Rose award in the soap opera category from the international television festival, Rose d'Or.  Clips of the show are all over YouTube, often subtitled in English by fans, for those viewers outside Germany who want to see more.


4res verbotene liebe co wedding c ard foto  glitsch




Following are the original German audio clips we received from actors Thore and Jo that were translated by the press office of Verbotene Liebe.


JavaScript is disabled!
To display this content, you need a JavaScript capable browser.


JavaScript is disabled!
To display this content, you need a JavaScript capable browser.

JavaScript is disabled!
To display this content, you need a JavaScript capable browser.

JavaScript is disabled!
To display this content, you need a JavaScript capable browser.

JavaScript is disabled!
To display this content, you need a JavaScript capable browser.

JavaScript is disabled!
To display this content, you need a JavaScript capable browser.






the-apprentice-logo-thumb UslanMichael-resize-thumb 30-rock-thumb agnes-nixon-thumb BenSpierman-thumb big-brother-logo-thumb bobby-flay-thumb Bridgeboy-logo-thumb
cast of The Apprentice 10


Sherri Shepherd

Vanessa Minnillo

All My Children creator AGNES NIXON

Bronx Opera's BEN SPIERMAN

cast of Big Brother 12 BOBBY FLAY & STEVE ELLS of America's Next Great Restaurant Cast of the play Bridgeboy
bruce-canwell-thumb chuck-thumb crystal-chappell-thumb dan-kroll-thumb dan-parent-thumb david-lyons-thumb debbie-gibson-tiffany-thumb dede-emerson-thumb


part 1: Guiding Light

part 2: Days of Our Lives

soapcentral.com founder DAN KROLL DAN PARENT of Archie Comics DAVID LYONS of The Cape DEBBIE GIBSON & TIFFANY Author DEDE EMERSON of A Different Kind of Streetwalker
dowling_jpeg-thumb eliana-ujueta-thumb jamal-igle-thumb Jay-Mary-thumb jeremy-irons-thumb jerry-beck-thumb josh-groban-thumb kai-soremekun-thumb
BOB DOWLING of the 3D Entertainment Summit Indie filmmaker ELIANA UJUETA of Beneath the Rock comic book artist JAMAL IGLE Genesis Repertory's JAY MICHAELS, MARY MiCARI, & actors Oscar-winning actor JEREMY IRONS

Animation historian JERRY BECK

1st interview

2nd interview

singer-songwriter JOSH GROBAN

web series producer KAI SOREMEKUN of Chick

1st interview

2nd interview

kathy-bates-thumb kenneth-johnson-thumb kyle-bornheimer-thumb law-and-order-los-angeles-thumb logo-thumb luann-de-lesseps-thumb max-thumb mike-miz-thumb
Oscar-winning actress KATHY BATES of Harry's Law Television producer KENNETH JOHNSON of V, Bionic Woman, Incredible Hulk KYLE BORNHEIMER & HAYES MacARTHUR of Perfect Couples

Terrence Howard, René Balcer

Dick Wolf, Alfred Molina, Alana de la Garza

publisher DAN HERMAN of Hermes Press COUNTESS LuANN de LESSEPS of The Real Housewives of New York City author MAX ALLAN COLLINS of Road to Perdition WWE Champion Mike "The MIz" Mizanin
MillCreeklogo-thumb nick-lachey-thumb niki-taylor-thumb paul-reiser-thumb ricky-gervais-thumb rosie-odonnell-thumb steve-niles-thumb the-event-cast-logo-thumb

JEFF HAYNE of Mill Creek Entertainment

1st interview

2nd interview

singer-actor NICK LACHEY supermodel NIKI TAYLOR talks The Celebrity Apprentice actor PAUL REISER of The Paul Reiser Show actor-producer RICKY GERVAIS of The Office actress-television host ROSIE O'DONNELL comic book writer STEVE NILES

Ian Anthony Dale, Nick Wauters

Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer, Blair Underwood, Željko Ivanek

thore-jo-thumb tom-brokaw-thumb tom-pelphrey-thumb apothecary-theatre-thumb tori-spelling-thumb
THORE SCHÖLERMANN & JO WEIL of Verbotene Liebe Peabody & Emmy award winning journalist TOM BROKAW Emmy award winning actor TOM PELPHREY of Guiding Light actors from The Apothecary Theatre Company TORI SPELLING & DEAN McDERMOTT of sTORIbook Weddings





Reviews & Previews:

Summer 2011 Movie Preview

Fall 2010 Television season

Fra Diavolo

Die Drei Pintos

Romeo and Juliet in Brooklyn

MPI Home Video

Timless Media Group

Boris Karloff's Thriller

Hunter: The Complete Series

Polly and Her Pals

Icons: The DC Comics and Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee

Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman

Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern

Spider-Man musical delayed again


Dead Space: Aftermath






New York Comic Con

Apprentice 10 kickoff

Farewell to Guiding Light

Farewell to As the World Turns

The Broadway Directory


Award Show winners:

Academy Awards

Emmy Awards

Grammy Awards

Tony Awards

American Music Awards

Golden Globe Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards

American Country Awards



Television blogs:

American Idol 10

American Idol 9

American Idol 8

Big Brother 12

Big Brother 11

ABC Cancels Both All My Children and One Life to Live

Guiding Light: A Look Back


Editorials & Issues:

Scam Alert: Have You Received This E-Mail Job Offer?

Meet the 112th Congress

Brooklyn politicians Kevin Peter Carroll vs. Ralph Perfetto

Before Rosa Parks There Was Lizzie Jennings

Understanding New York State Government

USTownhall RoundTable podcast: The Worlds of Entertainment and Current Events