|Operating in a different theatre. Having set pulses racing in ER, Croatian |
actor Goran Visnjic tells Wendy Ide he's now working like a trainee doctor to
get his movie career off the ground.
Saturday December 15, 2001
A key role in Michael Winterbottom's Welcome To Sarajevo brought Croatian
actor Goran Visnjic to the attention of the international film industry, and
after a bit of a false start (Practical Magic), his US career was sealed when
he was recruited to fill George Clooney's shoes as ER's crumpet-in-residence.
A film career crammed in around his obligations in the emergency room has so
far produced a lead in Nick Willing's Doctor Sleep and an acclaimed
performance as a blackmailing stranger in The Deep End.
There's a bit of a medical theme in your work at the moment, what with ER, a
role as a hypnotist in Dr Sleep and the cardiac massage in The Deep End.
What can I tell you? It was, like, accidental, you know. And to make things
even funnier, my character is supposed to be from Chicago in Dr Sleep, and ER
is set in Chicago. So I said, "Can we please change to another city, it would
be too much." So I'm from Seattle now.
Do you find that you're offered a lot of villain roles because of the eastern
It's a fashion that started during the cold war, in 007 movies, and the US
movie industry was of course much bigger than anything else in the world. So
the bad guy would be whoever was their enemy at the time. Now things are
slightly changing, but you have to choose your parts carefully. If you've got
an offer, big bucks, to play a bad guy in the next 007, you can do that, but
what will happen with your career in the next couple of years?
Have you moved from Croatia to the US permanently?
I just moved to the States two years ago. So I consider it a temporary move.
I never even applied for a green card, nothing like that. I'm still on
working visas. I spent a while commuting between the US and Croatia. I knew
every aeroplane. Then when I got ER I decided I had to move, because you have
to be there for nine months while the shoot is happening. It's an every day
So you only have time to do one movie a year. How do you choose?
You have to have a really good agent. For The Deep End, it was a really easy
decision: it was a great script; Scott and David directing; Tilda Swinton
would be in it, I knew that already; and you can play someone who's a bad guy
at the beginning, but over the course of five or six days turns into a really
good guy. That's four really interesting things in favor of being in this
How was the shoot?
We had a bear on the set one day, it was eating garbage. We were shooting on
Lake Tahoe and the bear just walked into the catering area. He smelled the
food, poor guy. They were making a noise in front of the bear to make him
walk away, but he was just ignoring everybody. He was a very polite bear. He
ate a little bit and then he left.
Do you still work in Croatia?
I work back and forth. I think it's really important to keep contact with
your native language, and denitely, what I would like to do, once I have four
months off from my life, I would denitely like to go to Croatia, and work in
theater. Theater is my first love.
What about a holiday?
Holiday? What's that? I'm the type of guy, after 10 days of holiday, I'm
crazy. I want to work. When I work I feel good. I like what I'm doing, so
it's almost like a pure pleasure to work.
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