Przemek Bluszcz, Poland.
A theatre, film, and radio actor. Is there such a thing as a ‘radio actor’?
There is. A radio actor is an actor working with their voice.
What are you working on now, man?
I’m playing in a daily TV show; I’m also about to launch a project for Netflix with Leszek Dawid and Bartek Konopka, which is also a TV show; I’m working on a film by Justyna Łuczaj, who wrote a fascinating screenplay entitled The Horse Tail. It’s absolutely crazy.
I’ve never played such a thing; later, I’ll show you a picture of how I’m going to look.
But it’s crazy because you’re going to be someone completely different? You’re going to look different?
Will it be something with your face?
Not so much, but my character is really peculiar; it’s a dark and terrible story set somewhere in between violence and love, but also very thought-provoking and meaningful. A tragic story about a family but also our species. Not very optimistic.
We die somewhere.
And we’re born again; the question is, are we getting wiser…
You’re in a holiday mood but not entirely. You’re having a break from the theatre; you’re working on film productions, for Netflix, I won’t remind you… Or I will, you’re almost 50, I’m close to that, so I can understand what’s eating at you. Do you feel fulfilled as an actor? Do you feel it’s your time?
That’s actually a good question, because the age of fifty is some kind of a turning point.
We’re just getting started.
Yes, but it’s some kind of conclusion, a reference point. Well, I made a late debut.
But you were ambitious, you’ve always been.
If ambition means that you want to do your job well then yes, I was ambitious in that sense.
And you didn’t thrust your way on the career ladder?
With my face?
I’m a photographer, you’re an actor; when we had a chance to work together, you once said, ‘What can I do with my face?’ You have an interesting, open face, and there’s some mystery about it. Do you like your face?
Yes… But producers and other people often put a label on me. Bluszcz is the one with that characteristic face… ominous, dark, evil.
Do you find it deprecating or tiring?
For the first two or three years after my film debut, after some successes, I sometimes asked myself why it’s so, but later, I realised it just works like that. As simple as that – people responsible for the cast are rarely eager to risk something new. We all love songs we know well. This lack of courage is terrible but, on the other hand, I make up for it in the theatre, where I play different roles.
Let’s remind our readers that you’ve been affiliated with the Ateneum Theatre for almost ten years now.
How do you feel on that stage?
Theatres in Warsaw are a peculiar and broad subject; there’s a lot to be said about them. For 12 years, I was working in the theatre in Legnica; the only theatre in town.
You were a star there.
That’s true. I played major roles but I also learned that the common good is the highest good; nobody tried to show off there. I could play a major role in one project, while in another, I was somewhere in the background.
And you felt good about it? It’s not like you have to be in the spotlight?
No, the play is the highest good.
And here, in Warsaw?
It’s a bit different; people concentrate on something else, on their ego.
The question of ego is very important. You once said that to make a career, to accomplish something in acting, be it in film or theatre, but mostly film, you have to graduate from the Academy in Warsaw. Do you feel it’s taking you down?
No. I said that indeed, half-joking, because young people often ask how to embark on a career and achieve success. I answered that it’s best to marry into a good Varsovian family and primarily graduate from the Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw, because when you look at the statistics, most people from the artistic circle are from Warsaw and are graduates of the Academy. Of course, there are also famous actors who graduated from schools in Cracow or Łódź. I’m from Wrocław, but it’s a different kind of story because I graduated from the Faculty of Puppetry in Wrocław, which is totally abstract.
That’s a strange thing to say about the career ladder.
I’d say it’s a different perspective, a different game. I can keep things in perspective, it’s natural to me. Anyway, the stage will tell. In Warsaw, people go to the theatre to see an actor rather than a play. A lot of famous TV or cinema actors perform in theatres. I guess every capital has this kind of gravity.
That’s true. Perhaps it’s from a different perspective, but don’t you think that it’s easier for actors like you now than it was a few years ago? Is society getting more mature? Actresses like Kulesza or Muskała are now at the peak of their artistic careers.
There are plenty of roles for mature women. This required several years of feminist awarenessraising activities, but the world is finally changing.
Do you believe that the trend in Poland is different from the prevailing trends in the rest of Europe? Are we different?
It’s a topic for a long conversation. There are a few countries in the world, where the alliance between power and religion gives rise to the abuse of the individual, the citizen. I believe that our problem is the outdated, non-reformative, authoritarian, patriarchal and narrow-minded religion… The world has changed; people have changed… When you ask why a woman cannot be a priest, you can hear that she has a smaller brain. I’m serious. This affects our life, politics, and business. Arrogance and violence are no longer enough to rule souls.
Someone drives up to you at the intersection, opens the window, and says…
Joking aside, I think we’re at a difficult point. We carry a burden, which makes it hard to fly; we have wonderful people, talented in a variety of fields, but something is taking us down. It’s a bit like tradition because tradition can be used wisely and be a source of inspiration, but it can also be a burden. We’re so deadly serious about ourselves and our past…
Perhaps it’s too much testosterone? We want to get everything very fast and when we do, we believe we’re so successful while in reality, we have nothing apart from the fat wallet.
The fundamental thing is respect for other people, I wanted to mention that, too. What acting has taught me is that if you don’t respect other people on the set, in the theatre, the audience, the technical staff, everyone around you, you don’t exist.
Let’s come back to your ego for a while. Ego is very important in acting; artists should be a little narcissistic, self-centred, focused on their ego. How about you? Is testosterone ego?
Not entirely. I think the devil is in the details. If your private, family life in order, if you feel fulfilled in your profession, the ego isn’t a problem. I’m lucky because I have a great family, and my wife also does similar stuff. We support each other, it’s crucial. But first of all, you can’t be an asshole.
But it happens that life gives us lemons. What do you do then?
I’m okay with it; I go through it, suffer, that’s fine.
A real artist must suffer a little.
You suffer, stay in the basement for a while and later go out in the sun because the sun rises every day.
Yesterday, I talked with Weronika Wawrzkiewicz, who said that you met professionally in Zakopane. She’s a great journalist, a role model to some extent, so I talked with her a little about you, and she told me, ‘Don’t talk with Przemek about acting, film, or his audiobooks at all. Ask him about music.’ She told me you know as much about music as Wojciech Mann.
Not as much as Mann, Bartek Chaciński or other music journalists. I just love music, all its genres and versions. I don’t know what ‘good music’ means, but I filter it through myself. Even when I get some recommendations on Spotify, I can tell whether the song is good or bad after three or four notes. In my opinion, of course.
It’s your ego talking.
That’s ego indeed. For years, I’ve been carrying a small loudspeaker everywhere because I believe that music is the language of the universe. And I try to share it…
Okay, but you’re an actor, you work with your voice. In films, there are postproduction and edition processes, the score is composed for the film, but what’s the role of music in your life? Do you listen to music when you’re on the set?
What do you listen to?
Everything, I’m serious.
What were you listening to while you were driving here today?
Some playlist. Kendrick, but also Haendel, Jimi Tenor, David Lang. I like ethno music very much, Tony Allen, an African drummer, various music worlds brought together, but also hip hop, Andalusia Gypsy music, opera, trans or heavy metal. These are just examples. I like music from all over the world; music which is moving, which evokes emotions, because I believe that art should affect our emotions. If I see something aesthetic, which is also great and beautiful, but doesn’t move me in any way, I’m like, ‘No, thanks.’
The form alone isn’t enough.
It’s not. Emotions help us communicate and bond, and I believe that we need to share and experience something together, whether it’s beautiful or not…
What matters the most to Przemek Bluszcz?
Once, when I was a Philology student, during a lecture on semantics, a professor told us about the etymology of the word ‘wonder’. It comes from Old English wundor (‘miracle, marvel’). So ‘to wonder’ means… to make wonderful, do miracles. It shook me up so much that I thought it was great to do wonderful things and meet wonderful and inspiring people.
And inspire them, too.
To try to, yes.
So that we would live in such a wonderful and amazing world, and that the art would astonish us.
We can wish ourselves that.
Art is the best drug.