In West Berlin, the famous shopping street is called the Kurfurstendamm. They do the most spectacular Christmas lights there in the wintertime. It goes on and on and on and on, and then they do these big sculptures of animals and Santas. At the end of the Kurfurstendamm, they have the coolest night market [at Christmas]. The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church there was bombed, but they left it that way, so it's kind of a monument to having been bombed. They built a really modern church around it, so it's almost like an amazing modern sculpture with this tower sticking out. On that plaza is the best of the night markets - the crowds and the sledding and the hot dog stands and all that kind of stuff.
The night markets are a funny German tradition that happens at Christmastime. As soon as the sun goes down, around five or six o'clock, there are these night markets all over the city that have lights, and they have different stands. They have all these wursts, like the hot dog-wurst-sausage places where they have curry dogs, currywurst, and all these different types of sausages. The night markets have tons of things for kids. I wish I had taken my kids, actually. I didn't think there was going to be anything for them to do in the wintertime. I thought it was going to be dark and difficult.
If you managed to avoid the curry dogs, where did you go for a nice meal?
I went to one of the best restaurants I have ever been to in my life: Restaurant Vau. It's like one of those meals that people have in Paris that they talk about their whole life, where it's all the different little courses of a half partridge with grapefruit and so on, and each thing is served with the perfect wine to go with it. We decided to do the tasting thing, so we were there for hours. It is in the central part of Berlin. Vau is beautiful, with almost a Viennese touch but still really contemporary design on the inside with this wood paneling. You wouldn't have found that in Germany 10 years ago. It was the best meal I've had in 100 years. I also went to a place I really liked called Lubitsch, like the director. It's in Charlottenburg. It's German food with a Euro slant to it. Almost like a German version of a French brasserie.
Did you revisit any of the restaurants your mother took you to?
When I was a kid, my mom took me to beer gardens. But, you know, beer gardens are only good in the summertime. I found a great lunchy coffee bar called Einstein Café that was really good and had music.
Did you have time to check out any of the clubs?
I'm not a nightlife person, but a couple of nights we went looking for fun. We couldn't find any because we were always off so late. We'd get off work at three in the morning, and we'd go driving around the city, you know, driving around, saying "What about this place, and what about that place?" Nobody would be in there. I was thinking, Maybe I'll see Hedwig. Did you ever see that movie, Hedwig and the Angry Inch? I was thinking about Hedwig. I was thinking that I wanted to go see the place where it is like the movie, with lots of people wearing berets and smoking cigarettes and then, like, drag queens. You know, I was looking for that. I think it does exist. But I went home and went to bed, or watched DVDs. We did find two good places, Maria am Ostbahnhof and Sage Club.
What do you remember most about your last visit to the city?
One day when we were shooting scenes in the subway, I was starving. We were at Alexanderplatz. There was this big, ugly, horrible, International Style building - it was like their version of the Virgin Megastore - and they have every European record you could think of. I went there with this girl from the crew who had, like, a nose ring and bleached-white hair, and she'd been in a band, and she wore really cool clothes. I was like, "I want some German music to take home. It's going to be great." I spent 300 euros or something like that, and I bought all these records. By the time I got back, there was no food left, and then everything was closed. They always outfit me with these bodyguards, and the German bodyguards are my favorites, because they're very polite, nice German guys. I said to them, "I'm starving, and what I really want is sauerkraut, wurst, and a beer," and they went, well, I don't know where they went. They went and brought back fantastic sauerkraut, fantastic beer - and there were potatoes, those funny potatoes they have. There I was, in the subway, wearing my big old coat, sitting on the ground, having my wurst and my beer and my sauerkraut. It was great.