He is an actor at the Odeon Theater in Bucharest, and at only 27 years old, he has already played some very important roles. He played Hamlet, a milestone in any acting career, directed by Dragoș Galgoțiu, and most recently appeared in a film in which he plays the main role. Film “Stairs” by Vlad Păunescu, in which he plays Dragoș Pâslaru, a famous hero actor of the revolution and university square, a victim of mining who retires after a troubled life in a monastery, becoming a Valerian monk. After a few years spent in the hermitage of Pătrunsa, on top of the Căpățânii mountains, he founded in the village of ânculești, province of Vâlcea, the only monastery in the world, dedicated to the holy martyr Filimon, who in earthly life was a representative and after sanctification became the protector of offerings.” I spoke to this young actor, Edward Tarifa, about this truly amazing role.
“Information about Drago Basalaro was from the press at the time”
– Edward, what did you know about Dragoș Pâslaru before you played it?
– I didn’t know much. I only had superficial information. I knew there was a great Roman actor who became a monk, that’s all. No more details. But I did the acting, I took the role and then a serious period of documentation ensued. The information I got about Drago Basalaro was from interviews, from the press at the time. I watched an entire show dedicated to him, on “Romania, I Love You!” , I watched his films, and talked to many of the artists who were near him while playing.
– Did the director tell you why he wanted to make a film about the life of Drago Baslaro?
– I know that, on the one hand, he wanted to honor the actor Drago Baslaro, who became Father Valerian, and on the other hand, he wanted to talk about those times, what the world of theater and cinema was like at that time, but also about the very turbulent historical events of the early nineties.
– You are young. What did you know before this movie about the revolution period, the university square and the mines?
“I was generally aware of all these events.” There are things your parents tell you, things you learn in school, things you hear about on TV. You cannot help but notice these themes. I think everyone knows them. Communism, revolution, mining, are relatively recent topics in history that everyone knows or has an opinion on.
“Only he can tell us why he chose the path of monasticism.”
“You said you didn’t know much about the character you were going to play.” But now that I’ve explained it, what do you think of man and artist Drago Basalaro?
For me, he represents the iconic image of an artist who is constantly striving to reach “somewhere” higher, to find answers to the questions that have tormented him. Every character he played had that struggle in him. Only as a man can he tell us why he chose the path of monasticism. It is a secret that belongs to him alone. We can only give our opinion, from the margin, and a more appropriate explanation would be the tragedy he went through, as he was beaten by miners to the brink of death. Drago Baslaro is clinically dead. He woke up in the morgue after that ominous beating. But I think we are wrong to limit it to that. He also conducted searches and questions as an artist that did not give him peace. I think that even without the unfortunate meeting with the miners, he would still have been a monk. But, as I said, this is a secret. Only he can talk about it and let him.
As an artist, it can be seen that he was very focused, very serious, very emotional, very loyal and even tormented. These are words that I can attribute to all my colleagues, who are really good actors. For me, I must confess, his example moved me, made me understand what it means to be a true actor, an actor able to do everything he has for his art, without half-measures. When you realize the dimensions of such an artist, you become more humble and more aware of what this calling entails. He was a near perfect actor, and I’m convinced he’s a priest too. A man and an artist realized his mission and took it to the end. You can’t help but be a little embarrassed in front of such a guy.
Has Father Valerian seen your movie?
“As far as I know, yes.” But I don’t know what he thinks of the movie. I know from the director that since he was just in the script stage, Vlad Păunescu went to his father to tell him about the project. The movie wasn’t made without his knowledge, that’s for sure.
Did you feel any pressure to play such a man with an extraordinary fate?
– I was aware that I was playing a person who is not only important, but also alive, who may have his own opinions on how to play, but I did not feel any pressure in the truest sense of the word. I decided from the beginning to treat him like any other role. Very serious and very loyal but like any other role. Whether I’m playing a real or fictional character, for me as an actor it shouldn’t make a difference. The way I build my league is no different. Information, whether real or fictitious, I have to assume and build my character.
“Are you a loyal man?”
– I think that if I were to put myself somewhere, I would say “toward the believer.”
“At Cluj College, I really got into baking.”
– How did you become an actor?
– I finished high school in Arad, in the acting department, and then went to Cluj, to the acting faculty of the Bebo-Polyai University, where I had two teachers, Yunoy Karas and Mara Obrich. This is where I really got into baking, where I learned what it means to be an actor, as I worked really hard and really hard. I think my luck in life was that I discovered some great teachers.
– And you are only 27 years old, you are an actor in one of the most important theaters in the country, in Odeon, and you already have big roles in your portfolio. Hamlet, for example.
– Yes, but I did not “invite” roles. They came to me on my own as a result of continuous work. I didn’t take a break, I didn’t take care of myself, I always shot myself, even if it wasn’t easy at all, because I realize that hard work is necessary, especially in the early years of acting. I sincerely believe in learning by doing, with as much practice as possible. I did not refuse projects, I trained, played, and it turned out to be a good thing. The fact that the directors saw me was not due to the fact that I applied or advertised, but only for my work and the fact that I always try to do my job as best I can, regardless of the role. I think my attitude paid off.
Being a movie actor is another thing entirely.
– What can Bucharest fans see you in?
– At the Odeon Theater, in “Cabaret”, in “For Your Good”, “Henry IV” and of course in “Hamlet”. Rehearsals for the future Dragoș Galgoțiu project have recently begun.
– Do you still work in the cinema?
– I agreed to play in a few short films, because I still had a lot to learn when working with the camera. Being a movie actor is completely different, and I still have work to do in that regard. I try to stay active, but I don’t have big projects in the cinema yet.
– You give birth in Transylvania. Did you have a culture shock when you moved to Bucharest?
– no. The types of people are countless and widespread. You can’t say that a certain area has only one type of person. Wherever you go, you will find all kinds of characters. The difference between my country Arad and Bucharest is that you walk a bit more and relate differently to the distances. In Arad, if you walk three kilometers, it is like going to the end of the city. “Olio! Do I have to go that far?” In Bucharest, three kilometers is nothing. If I have to travel three kilometers from home to the store, I say, “I’m going, it’s close.”