Borys Szyc is a film and theatre actor, born on 4th September 1978 in Łódź.
In 2001 he graduated from the Warsaw Theatre Academy. The same year he made his theatrical debut as Bucefał in Bambini di Praga, a play directed by Agnieszka Glińska for Współczesny Theatre. This humorous yet poignant performance did justice to the complexity of Bohumil Hrabal’s prose.
A little earlier Szyc made his film debut in Piotr Starzak’s Enduro bojz (2000). After a series of smaller parts, in 2003 he starred in Symetria / Symmetry by Konrad Niewolski, which tells the incredibly authentic story of six imprisoned men. Szyc won the Zbyszek Cybulski award in 2005 for playing one of them, Albert. He then played a leading role in Juliusz Machulski’s Vinci (2004). Together with Robert Więckiewicz they portray a duo of thieves who plan to steal da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine. His part was honoured at the Courmayeur International Noir in Festival.
A wider audience got to know him as superintendent Tomasz “Kruszon” Kruszyński, who infiltrated criminal groups in the crime series Oficer / Officer by Maciej Dejczer (2004-2005). More and more interesting roles came afterwards: Łysy in Xawery Żuławski’s Chaos (2005), three different protagonists in Grzegorz Lewandowski’s Hiena (Hyena, 2006) and a starring role in Łukasz Karwowski’s Południe Północ / South – North (2006) – a ballad about two young people's journey: a monk named Jakub (Borys Szyc) and a former prostitute Julia (Agnieszka Grochowska). Their meeting was casual and at the beginning they didn’t match, but feelings slowly emerge between them. As Malwina Grochowska wrote:
(…) it’s Grochowska and Szyc who are responsible for the viewer’s interest in the story. They both have impeccable skills and prove their great acting potential (…) We believe in Jakub’s improbable story: that he spent many years in a monastary, that he gets lost in the world outside and that he’s terminally ill (Kino 01.03.2007).
Szyc starred also as Tytus in Testosteron / Testosterone by Tomasz Konecki and Andrzej Saramonowicz (2007), in Lejdis by Konecki (2008) and in Serce na dłoni (A Heart on the Sleeve, title translated by the editor) by Krzysztof Zanussi (2008). He starred again as Kruszon in Trzeci oficer / The Third Officer – a continuation of Dejczer's successful series. The role of Dr. Konstanty Grot in Feliks Falk’s Enen (2009) brought him the Złota Kaczka (Golden Duck) award.
In 2009 he worked again with Xawery Żuławski in an adaptation of Dorota Masłowska’s novel Wojna polsko-ruska / The Polish-Russian War (US translation of the book's title: Snow White and Russian Red, 2009). For the leading part of Silny he was honoured with the Złote Lwy award at the Gdynia Film Festival. Konrad J. Zarębski wrote:
The actor, with a shaved head and unprecedented energy, plays a young man from the dregs of society, risking identification with a representative of a social group symbolizing post-soviet remains in customs and mentality.
He also played leading roles in Rafael Lewandowski’s Kret / The Mole (2010) and Jerzy Hoffman’s 1920. Bitwa Warszawska / Battle of Warsaw 1920 (2011).
In 2014 Szyc could be seen in Jan Jakub Kolski’s Serce, serduszko / The Heart and the Sweetheart. He played a priest from a small village in Podkarpacie who tried to reach his followers trough online videos. Even though the part of the rapping, tattooed priest was a supporting role, it was more memorable than some of the leading characters in the film.
In 2015, after a few slower years, Szyc’s career accelerated. The actor played in Persona non grata, a film directed by Cellin Gluck, which tells the story of a Japanese diplomat who saved 10 thousand Jews from the Holocaust, and also in Agnieszka Holland’s feminist-ecological thriller Pokot, based on Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead.
The biggest acting challenge that Szyc faced after Polish-Russian War was the role of Tadeusz Kantor in Jan Hryniak’s Kantor. Nigdy tu nie powrócę / Kantor: I Shall Never Return. It is going to be a biographical story about the life and work of one of Polish theatre’s most prominent figures. "It had to be an actor who has madness, risk and credibility inside of him", say the creators about casting Szyc. The premiere of the film is planned for the fall of 2016.
In 2017 another film with Szyc is going to have its premiere – Kamerdyner, an epic tale about the history of Kaszuby, created by Filip Bajon.
On the stage of Współczesny Theatre in Warsaw the actor collaborated with Agnieszka Glińska on Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost (2003) and Ödön von Horváth’s Die Unbekannte aus der Seine (2004). As Jacek Wakar wrote about his role in the latter:
Borys Szyc is most interesting as Albert. Always tired, sometimes tipsy, stocky and dressed in a tight suit, he’s the personification of mediocrity which arrogates greatness for itself. But the whole truth about this man is hidden in his eyes – empty and extremely sad (Życie 2004, vol. 280)
Szyc also appeared in Maciej Englert’s plays. In the scary farce The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh (2004) he played Padraic, an activist of one of the radical military groups who wants to capture the murderers of his only friend – his cat. Szyc’s grotesque role and connects sadism with infantilism.
The next play by Englert – Maxim Kurotchkin’s Transfer (2005) – was realized in similar poetics, showing a distorted world from hell. Szyc played the role of Dymitr, a doting male prostitute. In the dark comedy Udając ofiarę (Pretending to be a Victim, title transl. by the editor) by Oleg and Vladimir Presniakov (2006) he played Wala, a philosophy student who works as an actor playing victims during police visits to crime scenes. He wants to understand death and prepare for it. Szyc could be also seen as a serious, interesting interpretation of Joseph K. in Franz Kafka’s Process (2008). As Joanna Derkaczew wrote:
Szyc, after playing officers, fascists and thieves, unexpectedly turns to the greatest modern texts. His K. is a pugnacious buffoon. In a great interrogation scene he gives an oratorical performance before the eyes of spectators. He sucks up to the attendees grouped in an attic, deludes himself that he has gained their trust. Discovering reality is hard on him. Szyc interestingly shows the changes occurring inside the bank accountant. The initial irritation slowly turns into a sort of pride: it’s me that has been chosen, it’s me who fights the cruel system (Gazeta Wyborcza 2008, vol. 76)
Borys Szyc played a few roles also in TV Theatre, mostly in modern repertoire. He appeared in plays directed by Anna Augustynowicz – Krzysztof Bizio’s Toksyny / Toxins (2003) and Sweet Phoebe by Australian author Michael Gow (2005). In the latter he played Frazer alongside Dominika Ostałowska in the role of Helen. Together they created a story about an egoistic, well-off couple trying to save their relationship.
On the TV screen he played also Prologus in Pastorałka / Pastorale by Leon Schiller, directed by Laco Adamik (2006). He received many awards for the role of Platonov in Sztuka bez tytułu / A Story without a Title directed by Agnieszka Glińska in Teatr Współczesny in Warsaw.
Author: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, December 2008. Update: October 2015. BS; translated by NMR, 2015.