There is another Lee Strasberg Institute in Hollywood. Are there plans to open a branch in Europe?
We had a studio in London for many years. But it becomes very difficult to maintain the quality. We are not a franchise; this is not a McDonald’s. The students will still come to us here in the USA. Lee Strasberg once held a course in Bochum, in 1967 and people still talk about it. This student that goes to school there shows up in my lobby, he saw a poster outside from Bochum, and he started crying. I got a call saying that there is a crying man in my lobby, and I came and asked him: “How can I help you?” He said: “I am from Bochum. When I saw this poster I couldn’t hold back the tears. This is my school.” And so of course we invited him to take classes. He just came back this year, and now he is making a movie. So, we plant a seed and it grows.
How many teachers are working at the LS-Institute?
In total about 60-70, roughly half of them here in New York. Many of our teachers have worked in the field for a long time alongside Lee. They know his method like no one else.
How many students do you have at the moment?
With the Young Actors, NYU and Institute, around 350.
When did you start working here at this Institute?
Oh my god, 36 years ago! I came in just before Lee passed away; he wanted to train me as a teacher. Lee was my brother-in-law. My sister Anna was married to Lee Strasberg; she is still the artistic director of our institute. I had a young child at the time, and I said I wasn’t ready. But when Lee passed away, my sister called me and asked me to take over the institute. She was, of course, devastated when he died. I really didn’t intend to stay here for more than a few weeks, but I never left.
How would you describe Lee Strasberg? We only know the iconic figure, but how was he as a human being?
He was a wonderful man. He was a great father, a wonderful husband, a passionate teacher. When I think of Lee, I think of him sitting in a chair with a glass of tea. He had a dog at the time, and the dog would always be on his lap. The TV would be on, usually with a baseball-game on, and there would always be classical music. And he would always be reading, he had such an extensive library. We literally have thousands of books in all different languages. In fact, we are now trying to find a space for this library. He could always tell you what was going on -his concentration was impeccable. The students loved him because he loved what he did. The answer to having a career is being passionate! I am passionate about what I do, maybe that’s the reason why I have been here for all these years. I found the perfect job, it’s exactly what I want to do.
Why do you think Strasberg is still so famous? His methods are still applied by a great number of actors.
Because it’s relevant. Because his work is as relevant today as it used to be. It’s the truth. People relate to it because it works. We have wonderful teachers who studied with Lee, who have taught here for over 40 years now, and still do. They are very passionate about their work. So, it’s passed on from generation to Generation.