Sense of Beauty: Your metamorphoses are quite intriguing! You mentioned in an interview that you like the costumes and transforming along with the character. The preparation for historical roles is probably quite different from that for contemporary roles, for instance in TV series?
Magdalena Boczarska: I would make a different distinction. It takes a whole different approach to play the role with an original character. Then you have to face the original character – this was the case with the role of Michalina Wisłocka or Maria Piłsudska. There is a key difference between the two, too, because no one today remembers Maria Piłsudska anymore, while Wisłocka is very much alive in the memory of many people. I knew that those who remember her would verify the role and hold me accountable for the character. This situation was additionally stressful, not only because of people’s peculiar attitude to this character, but also because playing an older person is a huge challenge. It’s easy to turn the character into a caricature.
Were you held accountable for your resemblance to the real Michalina Wisłocka?
Yes. People examined how much I was similar and consistent with their memory and coded image of this person. Of course, everyone knows that the actor lends his or her face and personality to the character, but people will always look for these similarities.
You mentioned that when you were building her character in “The Art of Loving” the accessories – a handbag and pants from those years – were helpful. These touches and nuances that help an actor build a role are fascinating.
To be honest, I myself am still surprised by this – after all these years on the job, and still there is no universal key to building a character, there is no patent of some sort for the role to come to me. Nor is it at all obvious that chemistry between me and the character I play develops right away. Sometimes, however, it is so great that a really big emotional tear is left once the shooting is over. Because a movie set is not only about the character, but also about the accompanying circumstances – sometimes nothing interesting ever happens, we just finish the work and move on, but other times magic happens and it always translates into an effect, which is later evident on the screen.
The chemistry with screen partners is usually evident, too.
Though it happened that I did not have chemistry with my partners and anyway produced a creation that really moved the viewers.
So it is possible!
It happens, this is what acting is about. It is, by the way, remarkable that I am lucky to get such roles, which, colloquially speaking, “take no prisoners.” Recently I realized that directors bring us, actors, into these created worlds, entice us, offer us roles, and when the shooting is over, no one takes us out of it, we have to handle the return to reality ourselves.
Perhaps this is a niche for therapists, helping actors get out of their roles?
Maybe not necessarily out of the roles, but certainly out of the emotional crucible the role leaves behind.
It would probably be difficult to immerse yourself in the character, but on the other hand somehow shield yourself from it?
There are roles where you can't. This year I worked on two films, with completely different themes – “Heaven in Hell” and “Little Rose 2” – which absolutely blew me away. It's been a long time since I've had such an intense schedule. The films are extremely different, but when it comes to emotions they are similarly powerful. I spent half a year non-stop on the set, balancing work with taking care of my child and family – it’s not easy to return to reality afterward. These are roles to which I gave absolutely everything I had. Down to my guts. I have opened many shelves that I normally keep marked “do not open.”
Do you think actors somehow deal with their own, often intimate and difficult topics through their roles?
I think you can treat acting as a kind of therapy. I am not ashamed to admit it and say openly that I am in therapy myself, I have matured into getting into it after many years, once I found the right therapist. It seems to me that it is not by chance that certain personality types choose this profession. What I mean is that perhaps subconsciously, already at the stage of deciding about myself and my adulthood, I felt attracted to a kind of vivisection, which is working with a role. Acting is exhibitionism, and I think I recognized from the beginning that there was an opportunity in it to launch my inner voice, to find an outlet for my emotions. This work is my great passion and fascination, but there are also many moments when it brings emotions of such a caliber that I feel like saying: “I can’t stand it, enough.”
Acting is also associated with pervasive criticism. Everyone, bluntly, can comment on how you acted or how you look. Does it bother you?
It does, sometimes. I’ve been an actress for almost 20 years now and I haven’t gotten over it at all. It affects me, and I can usually only tell my loved ones about it. There’s something else to it too – not many professions carry such exposure of all their femininity. During photo shoots, which I try not to retouch, you can choose the best shot, but when you want to act well, you can’t control yourself and think about how you look. The camera sees every wrinkle, I’m judged on so many fronts, and not only in terms of my work, it’s often a vivisection study of my physicality, and that’s not always easy for me.