GOPO x 4: an interview with Best Actress in a Leading Role nominees

20 March, 2017

March is declared the women’s history month for decades and because everyone is waiting for the GOPO Awards Gala, which will take place on the 21st of March at the National Theatre in Bucharest, we talked with four of the five nominees from “Best Actress in a Leading Role” category about their movies, careers and roles in the nominated productions.

First name on our list is Medeea Marinescu – an actress popular for both her stage and movie performances and the only one from all five who actually played in one of Ioan P. Gopo’s films, when she was only seven year old.

03. Bypass is the third feature film directed by Nap Toader and got two well deserved nominations at this year’s GOPO Awards: best original music and best actress in a leading role. More on Medeea’s part, her nomination and the experience on the film’s set below:

Medeea Marinescu in 03.ByPass
Medeea Marinescu in 03.ByPass

What can you tell us about your latest film 03. Bypass and especially about your performance?

0.3 Bypass talks about a change-over within relationships between friends and even lovers, when money become a temptation; about confusion and loss of elementary principles in a society at sea. For me it was an occasion to work with my college classmates twenty years after graduation: director Nap Toader, directory of photography Silviu Stavila and co-star Gabriel Spahiu. It’s a movie made with a lot of effort, little money and good will from our producers Mihai Bogos and Corina Stavila. Filming conditions were rough – 98% of the movie is shot outside at night, on some cold autumn days but I hope these two nominations will bring the film in the public’s attention once again, as it hasn’t sold too many tickets in cinemas when it was released.

How do you feel before the GOPO Awards?

It’s a nice feeling being nominated for a character played alongside my fellow classmates. Being caught in the middle of some theatre premieres and tours, I haven’t had the chance to think about it too much. I saw most of the films in the competition and I think it will be a night filled with suspense. I’m actually quite curious who the “big winners” will be.

You’re both a film and stage actress. How big is the difference between them for you?

There’s definitely a big difference, from technique to the way they are presented. I think being a stage actor is an exercise very useful to any kind of actor, because you get to switch from the rehearsals within the theater to the ones practiced in film. If I were to play only on screen – as I planned in college, it would not have been quite what I need. I think the research, the improvisation and training of your feelings offered by the stage benefit your film performances.

Rodica Lazar is already a popular actress within the local film industry, who played in films such as Ramona (dir: Andrei Cretulescu), Live (dir: Vlad Paunescu), TV series Silent Valley (dir: Marian Crisan, HBO) and Carmen (Dir: Doru Nita). An actress which demonstrates with every film her love for acting, Rodica is at her first GOPO nomination for “Leading Actress

Rodica Lazar in Orizont (2015)
Rodica Lazar in Orizont (2015)

Misses Lazar, you are nominated for the leading role in Horizon, an adaption of Slavici’s novel “Lucky Mill” and directed by Marian Crisan. As most of your films this is a thriller. Is there anything in particular that attracts you to this genre?

I can’t say I picked any of my films by their genre, we don’t afford that in our local industry. I picked it because it was offered to me and I believed in the project more than in others. Thrillers are definitely unexploited enough in our country and I hope this attempt at diversity is just the beginning.

I read somewhere you really wanted to work with director Marian Crisan and this has happened with Horizon and then with The silent Valley. How did your collaboration went and what does it matter the most to you in an actor – director relationship?

Our communication was very good, I think it’s impossible not to get along with him. The most important thing for me is trust, to trust the one directing you and the film: that he knows what he wants, what to ask from you and how to make you tell your character’s story in the most pointful way to his story. And then the common ground you settle between you, how to reach your public, how to send the right message inside his head.

Do you think actresses find it harder to succeed in the film industry?

It’s true there are fewer calls for us but making yourself successful isn’t that hard. I think it’s harder what comes afterwards: keep working and bringing something different each and every time.

After a long break from the big screen, Alina Grigore makes her comeback with a powerful and touching performance in the character of Sasha – the lead female part in Sitaru’s film Illegitimate. Not many know that even though Alina has been quite absent in recent years, she kept on practicing the art of acting as a teacher, sharing with others her secrets through an original and personal technique. About Alina and Sasha in our dialogue below:

Alina Grigore in Ilegitim (2016)
Alina Grigore in Ilegitim (2016)

What does the story from Illegitimate and the character you play mean for you?

A new life. When this opportunity came in, I was wanting something different from my career for a while, and Illegitimate gave me confidence I have the power to do something meaningful, substantial – like developing my acting technique and exploring new grounds. The story and my part in it were just part of the process. The most important thing for me was being allowed to explore through my character. Sasha wasn’t such a difficult one and working on this film was a complex experience. We had a psychologist, miss Roxana Maier which followed the truthfulness of the story and we rehearsed daily, even seven hours a day, sometimes for a whole week. And lots of research: I read anything there is on the film’s topic. It was intense but it was worth it.

What were director Adrian Sitaru’s requirements for you and your character?

One of the most important things for Adi was not having a script until the shooting, just the characters very well defined and an idea of how the story unfolds. The National Centre of Cinematography won’t give you funds without a script so we had to compromise. Fortunately, it didn’t win so we had the freedom to do what we want but with less money. Adi wanted to blend all ideas of the us the actors, editors and all other artists involved and let the story write itself from there. He was something like the wizard of Oz: stood behind the “machines” while subtly operating them, just because it mattered so much to him using our creativity. From my point of view, Adrian Sitaru is a colossal film director who has the courage to explore. His courage is so rare in our film industry, most directors have they rules and even if they’re curious they don’t divert from them. Adrian does it every time and always with a purpose: searching for the mechanism behind each creation.

The actor is the one always waiting to be called for a casting call or for a role. How did you end up playing Sasha and what are your next projects?

I know Adi for quite some time. We talked once about my acting school and the original technique approached with my students and he came once to see them. I think he liked it, mostly how fast some unprofessional can get to a certain level of acting and I think he was also attracted by the bizarre method we use. So we started working together at some characters, developing the actor’s technique. After three months in, I found out we’re going to do a movie with me in the leading role. About this year, currently I’m working a lot for my school, I have to go to L.A and present our technique at some schools. I have also three scripts to choose from and I hope one of them will take shape.

Last but not least on our list is miss Dana Dogaru, an actress with over 40 years of experience on both stage and screen, who after eight years away from the film industry, makes a strong comeback that could not have been missed.

Dana Dogaru in Sieranevada (2016)
Dana Dogaru in Sieranevada (2016)

Miss Dogaru, you have a 40 years experience as an actor. Has the local industry change for the good in all this time?

I can’t really tell if the industry changed but the quality of the films for sure it did.

Sieranevada is your second collaboration with Cristi Puiu. What kind of film director is he?

An excellent director for any actor, for the way he discovers things about you that you had no ideas you could do, as an actor. And if you’re wise enough to receive his advice and guidance, you cannot go wrong.

Have you brought anything not found in the script to your character or have you kept it untouched?

I haven’t brought anything in particular, just myself. It was Cristi’s wish to cast me in this role and all I did was assume it in the best way I could. The rest was all him and of course, the cast with whom I worked as a real family, something that we tried to depict in the film as well.

Film producer and founder of ADFR, she dreamed since she was little of having a magazine one day. Alongside her job as editor-in-chief, she writes the interview of the month. She loves animals, jazz music and films festivals.