Julia von Anstetten

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Julia Mendes
Nina Bott as Julia Mendes
Verbotene Liebe character
Portrayed by Valerie Niehaus
Nina Bott
Duration 1995-1997, 2011-2012
First appearance Episode 1
January 2, 1995
Last appearance Episode 4000
January 18, 2012
Created by Reg Watson
Aliases Julia Prozeski
(believed birth name)[1]
Occupation Photographer
Doctor's Receptionist
Residence Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Julia Mendes (born Prozeski, adopted von Anstetten and formerly Sander) is a fictional character from the German soap opera Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love), played by Valerie Niehaus. She is introduced in the series' premiere on January 2, 1995. She departed from the series in July 1997, when Niehaus decided to pursue other roles. The role was surprisingly recast with well-known actress Nina Bott in 2011; reinstating the Brandner family and the original story of the show.[2] Bott appeared for the first time on-screen on June 23, 2011.[3] She eventually finished shooting her story arc in October 2011 and last appeared on January 18, 2012. The character is known as the first protagonist of the show and her main story focuses around the incestuous love to her twin-brother Jan Brandner.


Forbidden love[edit]

Even though Julia is the daughter of Arno Brandner, she believes for the first twenty years of her life that Christoph von Anstetten is her father and his son Henning her half-brother. After Julia returns from a trip in the abroad, the young countess returns home to celebrate her twentieth birthday with her family. On the airport, unknowingly to herself she meets her twin-brother Jan and starts to fall in love with him. Julia's mother Clarissa finds out with whom her daughter got romantically involved with and tries to break Jan and Julia up without letting anyone know the real truth. Clarissa makes several attempts to reunite Julia with her former boyfriend Gero von Sterneck, who soon turns out to be gay before he and Julia can get married. Jan belongs in Julia's heart and even though the two doesn't seem to make it because of their different lives, they always find their way back to each other. Clarissa then has no other choice to come clean to Jan after he learned the truth from Fiona Beckmann. Jan promises to end things with Julia but stays furious with Clarissa. Julia is heartbroken when Jan leaves her and she tries to take her own life by almost freezing to death in a cold winter night; mourning the lost of her great love.

Julia seems broken after she lost Jan and usually hasn't enough energy to get through the day. Christoph and Clarissa are worried about her, but don't know what to do. Christoph wants to try to get Jan back into Julia's life, but Clarissa sabotages the plan to protect her own lies. Julia then is diagnosed with leukemia. When she needs a donor, Clarissa realizes that the truth might come out in order to save Julia's life. She tells Jan about Julia's condition, who wants to help his twin-sister in a heartbeat. The truth finally gets out and Julia is shocked by all the lies her mother told her for twenty years. Even though Julia wants to get to know Arno and her siblings, Florian and Susanne, she wants to stay close to Christoph, who keeps being her dad. After Julia knows the truth and Jan seems back in her life, she has a hard time dealing with it. She always tries to be close to him, which ends - more than once - almost in a kiss between brother and sister.

Fighting the love[edit]

With time Jan and Julia both try to move on with other people. Julia eventually meets Tim Sander and marries him sometime later. But because of the closeness that Jan and Julia still have and Tim's jealousy of that, the marriage is very soon a troubled one. When Julia gets pregnant, Clarissa sees her chance of ending the marriage between Tim and Julia and tells her son-in-law that Julia would be carrying Jan's child. Tim gets mad and Julia leaves town to get a clear head. She decides to fly to Lanzarote. Jan follows her and they two have a wonderful time together. They enjoy the refound closeness between them and Julia realizes that she still loves Jan and always will. She decides to swimming, but never returns.

The rest is part of a big partly uncovered mystery. Jan tries to find Julia night and day and is sure that she has to be alive, while parts of her friends and family believe she committed suicide out of her forbidden love for Jan. As he thinks that Julia really could have died, he starts a new life with girlfriend Kerstin Richter. But then Jan gets a mysterious letter from Julia, telling him she's alive and well and that she wants him to follow to Spain, where she is living now. Jan is happy that Julia is alive, but wants to spare his sister and himself with their forbidden feelings and decides to move to Paris with Kerstin.

Fearing the past[edit]

Julia respects Jan's decision and tries to move on as well. After she gives birth to her son Timo, she marries Dr. Ricardo Mendes and starts a new life with him on Mallorca.[4] Arno tries to reach out to his daughter in the following years, but as they always end up speaking about Jan, it hurts Julia so much that she banishes her father from her life. In 2011, Arno and Julia haven't spoken in four years,[5] he remembers his children when an old portrait of the deceased Clarissa turns up. As Julia's birthday is coming up, Charlie can convince Arno to call his daughter.[6] But as Julia reaches his message she deletes it immediately.[7] Julia fears her past, not knowing that not only a very much alive Clarissa, who spent the last ten years in an South American prison, is on the way to see her and her brother Jan is taken a job as a priest on the Spanish island.[8] Ricardo soon realizes after Arno's call that Julia is missing her father and tells her that he would always be welcome to visit. As Julia can bring herself to thank Arno for his call, she's inviting him. A very happy Arno takes the next flight and can finally put his arms around his daughter again. In the meanwhile, Clarissa is watching Julia with her family and tries to find out more about her life. For that she breaks into Julia and Ricardo's home and is seen by a shocked Arno. She tells him what happened to her and wants him to reunite her with Julia. Arno is strictly against it after what Clarissa has done to her and wants Clarissa to leave as soon as possible. But when Arno talks to Julia about Clarissa, he feels that she has many unanswered questions. However, Julia and Clarissa met for the first time again by accident and Julia is everything but happy to see her mother. She wants Clarissa to stay away from her and specially away from Ricardo and Timo. Slowly, Julia thinks about her mother being alive that they maybe got a second chance since Clarissa seems to have changed. Julia grows closer to her parents again, while Jan has found out that Julia is living near by.

Secrets always come out[edit]

Clarissa and Arno eventually reunite with Jan and are afraid what Julia would do if she sees Jan again. Even though Clarissa would like to reunite the family, she and Arno also fear the feelings the twins once shared for each other. When Jan and Julia see each other for the first time since Lanzarote, they hug each other and are happy that the other is well. But Jan also knows about Julia's feelings for him that are still present. Julia wants Jan to stay away to not put the happiness of her family in danger. Jan even tries to leave the island several times, but is always hold back. First by his daughter Leonie Richter and then by Julia herself. Jan and Julia try to have a friendly relationship with each other as Julia keeps Jan's true identity from Ricardo. As he sees the twins in a close moment, he gets jealous and thinks that Jan is after his wife. Julia has to explain that Jan is brother. Ricardo is shocked by all the secrets Julia kept from him and so is Timo, who also finds out that Ricardo isn't his biological father. As Timo is asking after the man who created him, Julia lies to her son and tells him about a random guy she slept with. Timo is angry with his parents and is devastated to find out that Leonie, who he fell in love with, is his cousin. Ricardo and Julia start to have problems over Julia's secrets and a scheming Clarissa, who wants to control Ricardo, don't make things easier for them. Julia tries to keep her past with Jan to herself and doesn't want to put her marriage in any more danger. But she and Jan grow closer again and he soon has to promise her that he is strong enough for the both of them to keep their feelings under control. Julia is trying to enjoy the time with her brother, but as soon as the two get close, Julia feels that she still loves Jan with all her heart.

Ricardo slowly realizes that Jan and Julia's relationship isn't anything like one between brother and sister. Julia tells him the story of them being kept apart for the first twenty years of their lives, but holds back on how they met. As Ricardo sees for himself what is going on between the twins, he punches Jan and wants him far away from his family. At that time, Clarissa already paid a maid to seduce Ricardo and keep his fall on tape. She's blackmailing him with the tape and wants him to allow Jan to stay. Ricardo, knowing that he could lose his family for good, agrees to Clarissa's scheme. But when it comes to the feelings Jan and Julia share for each other it's already too late. As the two share a kiss, Jan decides to leave the island, but Julia won't let him go and the two end up in bed together. As the twins are about to make love to each other, Timo walks in and sees his mother in bed with her brother. Disgusted by his mother's behavior he even has to ask himself if Jan might be his biological father. Julia finally tells him the truth about her marriage with Tim and that she left Timo's father because of her love for Jan. Julia also has to tell him that Tim died several years ago - saying he committed suicide, even though Julia mentioned in a conversation with Clarissa that she knows that Tanja von Anstetten murdered him.

Forbidden? It's still love[edit]

Alarmed that the twins almost had sex, Clarissa informs Arno and wants him to help. Arno arrives and finds his family in pieces as Ricardo knows everything and Timo is missing. Even though not knowing how to deal with the situation they all agree that they need to find Timo. This puts Jan on a search with Ricardo, where Jan tells him that he loves Julia. The two end up fighting and Jan falling over a cliff, holding onto a rock. Jan begs Ricardo for help, but he sees a chance to get rid of the man he hates. Timo arrives to the scene and tries to help Jan, eventually bringing Ricardo to help too. After Jan has been rescued, Clarissa and Arno want to talk with their children. But instead of realizing that things have gotten too far, Jan finally wants a life with Julia and asks her to go away with him. Arno is outraged and wants his son to be responsible, while Clarissa seems helpless in this situation. Jan tells his parents that he and Julia never really were brother and sister. He tries to make them understand that they see each other as a man and a woman who love each other and can't do anything about that. Arno asks Jan what he expects and how a life with his sister would be possible in his mind, considering the two have children of their own now to think of. Jan feels that Arno is only involving Timo and Leonie, because he couldn't live with the possibility. Jan tells his father that he once disappeared out of his life and could do this again. In the meanwhile, Julia doesn't know what to do as Timo threatens her if she chooses Jan she would be out of his life for good.

Julia ends her marriage with Ricardo, but wants him to know that she always cared for him, it just wouldn't be enough that's worth fighting for. A heartbroken Ricardo leaves their home and tells Arno to look out for his daughter in order that she doesn't get manipulated by Clarissa again. Arno takes his promise seriously and tells Julia that Clarissa is secretly working on causing trouble for Tanja. Julia is outraged since Clarissa promised that she has changed and that this time around family would be more important to her. She breaks all ties with Clarissa and tells her she's out of her life for good. Clarissa tries to explain that Tanja took everything from her and that she just couldn't let her get away with it. Julia won't listen but is on her mother's side one last time when they worry about Timo, who has found out that his father was murdered. Arno, Jan, Clarissa and Julia all agree that Timo can never find out that it was Tanja who murdered Tim Sander all those years ago. Anyway, Timo gets the information from Leonie's mother and can make the connection to Tanja. In the end, Clarissa tells him to stay away from Tanja and that she is responsible for her ten years in prison. As Julia finally wants to tell Timo the entire truth, it's too late and Timo tells his mother that she's dead to him after misinterpreting a scene between her and Jan. Julia tells Timo that she just told Jan goodbye and doesn't want to loose him. Timo moves out anyway and is planning to move in with Leonie. Julia is heartbroken and sits on the pool remembering Jan to a stone he gave her as a goodbye present. As the stone falls into the water, Julia wants to get it back and is stuck herself in the end; fighting for her life. In the meanwhile, Jan has a weird feeling as he is about to leave the island and Julia's life forever. However, Timo comes to Julia's rescue and can save his mother. Glad that she's alright, Timo gives his mother free for a life with her great love, Jan. Julia and Jan reunite and finally can start a life together in Lanzarote.[9]


Julia is seen as a "classic heroine" back in 1995 and actress Valerie Niehaus was praised for acting towards the two years on the show. Considered to be the first protagonist, the love story with her twin-brother Jan drew three million viewers in front of their TV on a daily basis. Julia became a popular character in the German soap world and her pairing with Jan is considered as the show's first supercouple. Even though their love is forbidden, fans found themselves rooting for Jan and Julia and wished for a happy ending. Fans were left with tears when Niehaus decided to leave the show in 1997 and Julia went missing after the famous vacation with Jan in Lanzarote, which was seen as "a classic end to a Romeo and Juliet-story".

When Julia was recast in 2011, fans had mixed feelings over new actress Nina Bott while critics saw Bott as a popular soap veteran and publicized much on the "scandalous story about an incestuous relationship between brother and sister". The character of Julia was criticized in its short run for her lying to her husband and son about basically her entire life, while the love story between Jan and Julia once again proved popular. It also met with some disgust to try to pair brother and sister. The majority however hoped that Jan and Julia would finally get her happy ending.

Julia is one of the most remembered and recognized characters when it comes Verbotene Liebe.


  1. ^ Not confirmed to a rewritten history of her mother Clarissa in 1999
  2. ^ Soap star Nina Bott is the new Julia von Anstetten
  3. ^ Bott's debut as Julia Mendes
  4. ^ Marriage with Ricardo
  5. ^ Mentioned by Arno in Episode 3865 as Charlie is trying to convince to call Julia
  6. ^ Recap 06-22-11
  7. ^ Recap 06-23-11 (1)
  8. ^ Recap 06-23-11 (2)
  9. ^ Recap 01-18-12

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