Falk Hentschel is not who he appears to be on screen. Whether you’ve known him as ‘Hawkman’ from the CW’s “DC Universe” or are eagerly anticipating his role as brutal neo-Nazi Hauptsturmführer Ludwig Topf in the upcoming film, “Welcome to Marwen,” the roles Falk plays can seem larger than life. However, when you speak to Falk, you glean an entirely different picture altogether. You quickly realize that Falk is neither a superhero nor villain; rather, he is simply a man; beautifully flawed, with an instantly disarming vulnerability and a genuine passion for storytelling.

Falk was born and raised in Germany. It was there that he watched the films of American greats like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. From an early age, Falk knew he wanted to act but was unable to find acting programs in his area. It was his mother who encouraged him to channel his creative energy through dance, like many of his film favorites. At age 14, he started ballroom dance, which started his career as a professional dancer; touring with international acts and dancing backup for Britney Spears and Mariah Carey. With all of his success, Falk knew that he still had stories to tell and dreams to fulfill. When he finally moved to LA, he found that things would be challenging. He taught dance classes at Millennium Dance Complex in between auditions and acting classes and dealt with obstacles in both his professional and personal life, but he never gave up.

Eventually, fed up with the industry, Falk took his art into his own hands and wrote, produced and starred in a series of short films. The success of those films helped him book his first major role in “ Knight and Day” starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. He credits Cameron with giving him the guidance and support that he needed as a young aspiring actor. “It was really Cameron who encouraged me. She told me to never give up,” wisdom he now pays forward to other young artists. Soon after, Falk booked roles in “The Closer,” “CSI,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Jack the Ripper,” “StreetDance 2,” DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Arrow” and “The Flash.”

For the future, Falk is excited about playing roles with heart in projects he feels passionate about. “I grew up watching movies like “Braveheart” and “Forrest Gump” that are about the human experience—about loss, freedom and suffering. I want to play vulnerable characters,” Falk says. “One of the most beautiful things about acting is the co-creation. There’s nothing better than humans coming together in an open, creative space and playing together to create something beautiful. No one can create anything meaningful alone.”

Falk is ecstatic about his project, “Welcome to Marwen.” “I feel like this is the first project I’ve been involved with that’s so honest. It’s about a man who is brave enough to say, ‘I am who I am;’ who faces adversity and suffering but gets back up.” Even though Falk plays the “villain” in the film, Falk can sympathize with the heart-wrenching themes in the movie because he has openly struggled with so many challenges in his personal life. “I’ve struggled with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, depression, [but] all of those things don’t diminish you,” he says. Falk continues to be an advocate for mental health issues and encourages people to eradicate the stigma around those tough conversations.

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Stu Zimmerman