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TELEVISION Czech Republic / Slovakia

Slovakian filmmaker Peter Bebjak completes television miniseries The Actor

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- The miniseries follows a rising actor and conformist stuck in a Faustian bargain with Secret Police in 1950s Czechoslovakia

Slovakian filmmaker Peter Bebjak completes television miniseries The Actor
Elizaveta Maximova and Jan Cina in The Actor (© David Markovic)

Prolific Slovakian filmmaker Peter Bebjak completed The Report, his eagerly expected drama about a man’s escape from Auschwitz (read the news), in May 2019. He then worked on epic fantasy series The Slavs (read the news) from May to October 2019 in Ukraine, and is currently developing the dark comedy Emil. In the middle of this busy schedule and just before Christmas, Bebjak also managed to complete the television miniseries The Actor for Czech Television.

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“The reasons I started developing this drama were two. The first was the opportunity to work again with the team with which we made the Czech Lion award-winning miniseries Justice, and the second was the strong script written by Petr Bok,” reveals Katěřina Ondřejková, creative producer on The Actor. The psychological crime miniseries Justice, produced by Rastislav Šesták and Peter Bebjak (who directed it) for Slovakian production outfit D.N.A. Production, was bought by U.S. firm Pearl Street Films, which acquired the rights for the American market and is owned by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (read the news).

The Actor is set in the 1950s, the peak period of communist repression, in Czechoslovakia. The official synopsis is: “Stanislav Láník lives alone with his grandmother and his sister Agnes. His father was killed in the war in the service of the Western Army, and his mother died in prison as a collaborator. Stanislav and Agnes are doomed to survive without a chance for education or better work. Although Stanislav is a talented actor in amateur theatre, he is forced to abandon his acting career, and begins working as a janitor at a university. The Secret Police gives him the task of focusing on the university’s professor of mathematics, whom the regime suspects of collaboration.” Stanislav hides his homosexual orientation, at the time punishable by prison, and that is precesily what the Secret Police uses to manipulate him. “We are narrating the story of an anti-hero in The Actor, but we are not narrating it in black and white. We are interested in motivations, why he acts the way he acts, and thanks to them, we can actually understand his behaviour,” explains Ondřejková.

Written by Petr Bok (Ghoul [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
) and Pavel Gotthard (How Not to Screw Up Your Life, Black Widows), The Actor has three leading actors: Jan Cina (National Street [+see also:
trailer
interview: Štepán Altrichter
film profile
]
) in the role of Stanislav Láník; revered Slovakian actress Emília Vášaryová (most recently of Eva Nová [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Marko Škop
film profile
]
fame) playing his grandmother; and, in the role of Stanislav’s sister, rising star Jenovéfa Boková who won accolades for her performance in Moments [+see also:
trailer
interview: Beata Parkanová
interview: Beata Parkanová
film profile
]
by Beata Parkanová and stars in the upcoming biopic dramedy Havel (read the news). Martin Finger, Pavel Batěk, Adrian Jastraban, Jand Nedbal and Elizaveta Maximová appear in supporting roles. Slovakian cinematographer Martin Žiaran, a close collaborator in several of Bebjak’s projects, lensed the miniseries. The Actor is currently in the editing room and expected to air sometime in 2020.

The Actor is produced by D.N.A. Production (Rastislav Šesták, Peter Bebjak) and co-produced by Czech public broadcaster Czech Television and Radio and Television Slovakia.

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