June 27, 2004
(Part 2 of 3)
Are there differences
between filmmaking in Poland and in America?
I got that question so many times before, especially in Poland, and whenever they asked me that, I think they expected a big difference. No. They use similar cameras; maybe they use maybe cheaper lenses. I think the main difference is the budget. The last feature movie which I worked on cost $750,000. It's like a very, very low budget movie here but we were able to get eight weeks of shooting, one week in France, two weeks in Kazimierz Dolny.
For me, it was always a dream to go back to Poland. Of course, I learned everything here in USA so sometimes I was looking for Polish words, how to say this or that, because I know only terminology from the American set. But it seems like a lot of terms they use are the same. Actually, even the director of photography was trying to practice his English, so sometimes he was even directing me in English. And look at cinematographers. So many great cinematographers are from Poland, and so many of them we have here in Hollywood.
Yes, I think there is a different way of working with actors -- at least that is how I can compare the last movies I worked on -- but I think it comes from more time, more film, which of course again connects to the budget. If you do not have to count how many takes you do, then you allow yourself more freedom, and that's what you get in American pictures. [In Poland] if they have enough film for three takes, there is a certain pressure I think which builds in actor's head: "OK, it has to be good this time because if not, that's what will be on the film." Here in America, you allow yourself to experiment in front of the camera, and that's why you quite often get these great results.
What is the most common question you are asked in an interview or by your fans?
In interviews, mostly I was asked what's the difference between American and Polish productions! As you noticed, most of the interviews I did were in Poland, so they of course were curious how an American actor with a Polish background (because that's how they call me) finds a movie set in Poland.
From fans? They don't ask much. Actually,
they barely ask. Some of them ask for maybe a picture. I usually send
a picture as an attachment. They are usually very shy, and they say
they never did this before but they liked the project so much that they
traced me and now they are writing this e-mail. So, it's very sweet.
They even don't say, "I would appreciate it if you answer." No expectations
there. I think that's the sweetest part of it.
Some actors say that having recognition in their home country is more important than recognition in Hollywood. Would a Golden Duck Award (Nagrody Zlotej Kaczki) mean more to you than an American award? Or are awards important to you at all?
They give these awards once a year, right, to their favorite actors? Well, these are the awards from your fans and I think they the most precious. That's whom we do this job for. That's why I value so much the recognition and the support of the fans I get from Beast Within. Of course, most of it is coming from all over the world but Poland. But, being Polish, being raised there, when I was leaving Poland, my dream was always to go back and appear for the Polish audience as somebody who made it in Hollywood. To make them proud. So, it's interesting to debate about the rewards you didn't get, but I think I always wanted that approval, and especially from my own people, from Polish people, because that's who I am. I think every reward and recognition is important to me, but the closest to my heart would be the Polish award.
What would be your ultimate role as an actor?
I don't know if we can create our own roles which we feel are the best roles for us because, as I pointed out to you earlier, I would like to play good guys, but if they do not have any danger in them, I feel they are boring. And we want to be exciting to the audience on the screen. You don't remember good guys after watching the movie. What you remember, what you talk about, is the bad guy. I don't know how psychologically that can be explained, because at the end we cheer for the good guys. But what we talk about is the characters which had danger. We like surprises.
In one of the classes I took, I was told that we should visualize for ourselves what character or who we would like to be in our dream movie. It seems like I have never done that exercise. When you're in this business, you can have your own dreams, but in the end you face reality. Maybe I just do not want to be disappointed because I take it as things come out. Though I am picky. If after I read the script I find nothing new in the character, I just say I don't want to do it. I think as I grow, I am looking for more sophisticated, more complicated characters, something new, and something interesting for myself to work on. And if I don't find these qualities in the character, I do not want to repeat the same thing again.
Is there any movie you wish you had been in?
It was my dream to be in Air Force One and K-19. The agent told me later that the director thought I was too Hollywood looking. These were the two movies I really wanted to work on because I wanted to work with Harrison Ford. It's funny, but in my office I have the statue of Harrison Ford from Star Wars. I'm a big fan of his.
Have you ever been interested in doing something else in the film industry besides acting, such as directing or producing or screenwriting?
Well, maybe screenwriting. I wouldn't call myself a screenwriter, but I'm going to write down exactly the idea and make up some dialogue. Later I'm going to consult with a professional writer to get a final project. I was always interested in photography, and actually I considered adding a section on my web site about that. In the past, I used to do quite a lot of pictures and I think I have a good eye for framing and for catching the stuff on film. Directing? Well, I have to say I learned so much from the last classes I took with Larry Moss. Just watching him, what he does with actors, how he changes them, was so inspirational and taught me so much from the directorial point of view. So, you never know, that might be a next step sometime in the future.
What do you like to photograph?
Nature, but most of all children. They are so real in front of the camera.
You have filmed several TV shows or movies on location. Were you able to enjoy visiting new places during filming?
My favorite was Austria while I was shooting Into Thin Air, and last year, Hawaii. I spent there 10 days shooting ER. I loved it. I had a week off and I really had plenty of time to enjoy the location.
Do you have any favorite old movies?
At one time there was this program in Poland which was showing every Sunday a different old movie. Most of the old movies I saw were Polish, though I have to say that my favorite was White Christmas. Probably because of the singing, and how important is Christmas season for me.
If you were not an actor and could do anything else, what would that be? Anything else?
A singer. I always liked to sing.
Do you have any specific goals for the future as an actor?
To switch to the big screen.
End of Part Two
Go to Part Three
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