Still from an Easter Migros ad: father Beat and daughter Lea shopping at Migros.

Interview

“I still enjoy playing Beat, even after four years”

Beat is a single father who makes audiences of Migros ads laugh with his loveable goofiness. The actor who plays him, Sebastian Krähenbühl, discusses the pros and cons of his fame and why he doesn’t eat mandarin soup or octopus.

From
Kian Ramezani
Date
Format
Interview

We heard that people recognise you on the street. What do they say?

Some wave enthusiastically, but most just look at me or ask “Are you the guy from the Migros ad?” Then I say, “Yes, I am”, and that’s that. So it’s pretty uneventful for the most part. Sometimes, teenagers want to take a selfie with me. But I’ve been in some funny situations, too.

For example?

Once, a waiter in a dining car gave me a voucher because he thought I was a regular customer. He recognised me but he didn’t remember where from. Once, I was up in the mountains and didn’t know where to put my rubbish, and someone came up to me and said, “I know you, give it to me, I’ll take care of it.” Or this winter, I left my hat on a train and got a message on social media that it had been found shortly afterwards. Someone had recognised me, obviously.

Are you proud to be so well known?

I would say it’s more like something that comes with minor perks like these. For instance, in 2023, when I moved from Zurich to the small municipality of Kaiserstuhl in Aargau, and everyone there already knew who I was.

How much Beat is there in Sebastian Krähenbühl?

There’s something endearingly goofy about Beat. An acquaintance recently told me that I’m not quite as bad in real life (laughs). Of course, the boring answer is that I play the role of Beat.

What do you do when you’re not playing Beat?

I’m an actor, and I love it. I do comedies, serious plays and also enjoy acting in films. I write my own stuff too, which can be a bit weird. I just love telling stories. I used to dance. I’m comfortable across many genres, and I’m quite glad to have several mainstays.

What are the differences between TV advertising and the stage?

On stage, you have one shot, and it has to work. You are completely in the moment, a mistake is a mistake. In advertising, you can repeat the scene as often as you like until it’s perfect. After all, so much happens afterwards in the editing room, anyway. But you don’t have an audience on TV. I mean, there is an audience, but you don’t see or experience it until someone talks to you on the street (laughs). On stage, I can feel how the play is received right away.

Beat is a very likeable character. Do you play villains too?

Yes, and it’s fun! Unfortunately, I usually only get offered these roles abroad. I play a troublesome policeman in an upcoming Zurich crime drama, and a few years ago in Austria I played an abusive director.

Are you afraid of becoming typecast as Beat and being offered fewer roles in Switzerland?

No, these roles are too quickly forgotten for that. But I used to worry about it. When I was fresh out of drama school, they wanted to cast me in the SRF sitcom “Mannezimmer”, but I didn’t want to, because I was afraid that I would be identified with this role forever. Today, I’m much more relaxed about it. I still enjoy playing Beat, even after four years. I hadn’t done much advertising beforehand – twice for Migros, funnily enough.

Does Beat keep evolving?

I’ve been thinking about that. The character of Beat is really brought to life by how he always reacts in similar ways.

Will Lea’s mother make an appearance at some point?

I don’t know, and it’s not my decision. It might be too much.

Who or what do you like to watch?

(Reflects) Humour is very important to me and I do like things to be a bit weird...

...so more Monty Python than Emil Steinberger?

Yes, you could say that. Although Emil does a very good job. Now I have to be careful what I say (laughs). Sometimes, I find Swiss comedy to be a bit too pandering. I like dark comedy, which works better in English-speaking countries or even in Austria.

What are you watching at the moment?

Until recently, I was watching The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, because he does a lot with language. Or Ricky Gervais, it’s refreshing how he doesn’t care what people think of him or whether anyone is offended by his jokes.

What was the last movie you saw that had an impact on you?

The Netflix documentary, “My Octopus Teacher”, about a man who has a crisis and then gets into diving. He meets an octopus and starts following it. I go diving occasionally and encountering an octopus also changed me. I used to love eating it, but I just can’t do it anymore.

What do you like to eat and cook?

I go through phases, like Moroccan, or at the moment Indian or Parsi (ed: the Parsis are descendants of Persian immigrants to India). I always like ossobuco, which I made for Christmas. I like to drink wine and also make it myself. I have a small vineyard in Valais that produces 100 bottles of Gamay a year.

And how do you feel about mandarin soup, which was the subject of one of your best-known Migros ads?

I don’t really make soup, it’s not my thing.

Portrait of Sebastian Krähenbühl

About Sebastian Krähenbühl

Sebastian Krähenbühl (49) is from Birri, Aargau, and went to drama school in Zurich. He plays Beat in Migros ads. Beat is a single father who deals with all kinds of everyday challenges together with his daughter Lea. Unlike Beat, Krähenbühl doesn’t have any children and lives in Kaiserstuhl, Aargau.

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