Interview with Zofia Wichlacz (Poland): “I dream to be cast not like the way that I look now, but just to shave my hair or dye my hair black and have piercings”

by February 20, 2017

Zofia Wichlacz

Zofia Wichlacz (©Ralf Uhler for EFP)

Zofia Wichlacz made her screen acting debut as the female lead in Jan Komasa’s “Warsaw 44”, which earned her a Golden Lion for Best Leading Actress at the 2014 Gdynia Film Festival and a Polish Academy Award as Discovery of the Year in 2015. Since then, she has worked with acclaimed Polish directors such as Andrzej Wajda on his last feature film, “Afterimage” and Agnieszka Holland on her latest film, “Game Count”, which was in Competition at this year’s Berlinale. Zofia was cast in the female leads of Maciej Sobieszczanski’s “Zgoda” and Katarzyna Adamik’s “Amok”.

Andra Gheorghiu spoke with her about her big break in “Warsaw 44” and her career, what it means to be a 2017 Shooting Star, Polish Cinema and working with Wajda, among other subjects.

 

 

What can you tell me about your background and how you got your big break in “Warsaw 44”?

Zofia Wichlacz: I was raised in a family of artists – my father is a cinematographer and my mother is an architect, set designer and interior designer. So, I grew up in this house, around these rehearsals in theater, on film sets… So, I really felt like acting. I was twelve or fourteen and I knew I wanted to try and do it. I had all these extra classes, theater classes and then, somehow, I managed to get into some auditions. I auditioned for the role in “Warsaw 44” and I got the part. That’s how it all happened.

How do you think being a Shooting Stars will influence your career?

Z.W.: It’s been my dream since 2012, when I was 16. I just realized: “This is my dream,” and it actually happened! It’s so exciting because I really believe that this program can help your career, help you be in an international project and this is another goal of mine.

What do you think about the Polish New Wave that is greatly represented at festivals, like for instance “Game Count” that is screening in Competition here this year? And, how do you position yourself in it?

Z.W.: It’s been a great period now in Poland and it’s getting better and better. We won the Oscar for Ida and more and more films are being presented and awarded at international film festivals, like the premiere of Agnieszka Holland’s film, Game Count, in Berlin yesterday… And, I feel like I want to work with all these great directors. This is my path, to work with the best ones – I dream about it and I’m trying to achieve it.

Do the characters that you want to portray belong to that world?

Z.W.: I feel like we have this great movement. I just hope that there will be more parts for young women, because it’s still difficult to find a good part for women. But, it’s getting better and it’s the most important thing. But, I dream to be cast not like the way that I look now, but just to shave my hair or dye my hair black and have piercings. Rooney Mara is a great example and inspiration, because she can be sweet and subtle in Carol and, on the other hand, she can be “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. So, this is how I think about myself and my possibilities as an actress.

How was working with Andrzej Wajda?

Z.W.: It was an amazing experience because he had a great energy. He was like a master in a way. He had this power and force that really were unusual, and a sense of humor. He was 89 when we were shooting. We had no boundaries – the master and the young actress… I think he loved young actors, so the work was great. He had these specific tasks for you, but he also liked it when you made suggestions. It was very nice.

You said you couldn’t watch yourself on camera and Wajda helped you overcome that. Did you continue to do that?

Z.W.: Yes, it got me this healthy distance. When I learned it, I thought: “Yes, I’m going to do it, let’s not be so sensitive.”

What is your favorite story from the set?

Z.W.: There are so many stories, but something that I really learned from all these films on all these sets I worked on, is that you really have to fight for the effect. Sometimes, for example, someone can interrupt a take, laugh because of something funny and you have to say: “Let’s stop and focus” in order to fight for the best possible surroundings and your comfort at work. This is very important and I can say I learned that. Now, I’m stronger in every project.

By Andra Gheorghiu