Born on June 22nd 1973 in Milanówek, Marcin Dorociński is one of the most popular and appreciated Polish actors.
But it wasn’t always like that. The son of a blacksmith from a tiny town Kłudzienko, didn’t dream of becoming an actor, but studied ironwork in a mechanical school in Grodzisk Mazowiecki. His acting abilities were noticed by his history teacher: it’s because of her – and a knee injury which made it impossible for him to become a footballer – that he decided to study at the Theatre Academy in Warsaw. Dorociński, a very private person, talks willingly about his work preparation:
School doesn’t prepare the actor for the fact, that student’s life, when you smoke and drink vodka, ends after four years. After that a fight and shiftiness begin. A graduate is like a cosmonaut, who entered cosmic space without his spacesuit. No help at all. At the beginning my waiting game only lasted a month: in 1999 I played the lead in Krugerandy. Had the film succeeded, my career would take a different turn, but it wasn’t even distributed. I had to play smaller roles and focus on theatre. This taught me humility. That’s why when somebody asks, whether success changed me or whether I became big-headed after two films in Gdynia, I say that I am too old for that (Hubert Musiał, "Muszkieterowie polskiego serialu", "Kurier Lubelski" 31.10.2005).
In Teatr Dramatyczny in Warsaw he started with small parts, which led to the leads. He worked with Krzysztof Warlikowski and Grzegorz Jarzyna, who – as he admits – shaped his view of the theatre, even though he only played episodes. The meeting with Krystyna Janda could probably be more important career-wise, but it was another cul-de-sac. He played episodes in many TV series, but what drew him into the spotlight was a main part in Patryk Vega’s controversial series Pitbull. Before the series was broadcasted, its short version was shown, edited in a way which made a leading character out of homicide commissary Despero, played by Dorociński. And this is when everything changed for the actor. Dorociński not only tasted “real” film acting, but also consciously disfigured himself. The effect was surprising: the jury of Zbyszek Cybulski prize, reactivated in 2005, chose him as the first recipient.
This prize gave me great satisfaction, because when I learned about it, I remembered all films starring this cult actor – said Marcin Dorociński in an interview with Jan Bończa-Szabłowski for Rzeczpospolita (20.04.2007). – But since I have a skeptical view on all prizes, I didn’t expect much. Some might think it's weird, but this award didn’t cause any serious interest in me. I waited for a call for six months. And I am an awful idol-material. Glitter and charade annoy me. I rarely go to parties and am scared by the paparazzis. This side of popularity doesn’t do it for me at all.
And yet after Pitbull something changed. The film Barbórka (part of the cycle “Polish holidays”) was shown in TV. He played himself – a young actor ready to take any part to achieve success. In an interview he said:
His dilemmas were mine. At a certain point I was such a frustrated television actor, playing in a few telenovellas, earning quite a lot of money, being popular. If it lasted five years, I would have started hating myself.
After Despero, Dorociński became an expert in roles of gangsters and policemen, tough men with a surprisingly soft heart. Like the main protagonist of Ogród Luizy / Louise's Garden by Maciej Wojtyszko, where he played a gangster, simulating a psychological disorder. This interesting part not only gave him an award at the Gdynia Film Festival, but also – finally – led to a main role in the theatre (Lulu on the Bridge by Paul Auster).
Dorociński however focused mostly on films and television. His following roles were really challenging. He gained a few pounds to play a romantic cook in Rozmowy nocą / Talking at night. Playing the main part of an alcoholic footballer, who becomes the coach of a team of homeless men, in Kasia Adamik's Boisko bezdomnych / The Offsiders, he had to face his own dreams of a career in sports. The role of Bronek in Borys Lankosz's Rewers / Reverse was difficult not only because his character poses as Humphrey Bogart, but also because, in spite of all his charm, he couldn't count on the viewer's sympathy. This part gave him another award in Gdynia – this time for best actor in a supporting role.
After a slow start, the time came when Marcin Dorociński could say no to directors. But not all of them – he willingly helps independent projects and also likes working with young filmmakers such as Borys Lankosz and Bartosz Konopka, the director of Lęk wysokości / Fear of Falling honoured at the Gdynia Film Festival in 2011. At the same festival Dorociński received yet another award at his efforts in the poignant Róża / Rose by Wojtek Smarzowski. This time he played a war survivor, searching for a place in Mazury in 1945. This was one of the parts that surprised the audience and was a confirmation of his credo: “I want to try everything: that's what acting is about”. His role in Róża was appreciated also abroad – he received the Golden Peacock award at the Film Festival in Goa. Also Magdalena Łazarkiewicz TV series Głęboka woda / Deep water, where he played the director of a Social Welfare Centre was noticed abroad: the series won Grand Prix Italia 2012 in Torino Festival and was awarded as the prestigious Hugo TV awards.
In 2012 Dorociński played in five important Polish movies: he appeared in an episode in Leszek Dawid's Jesteś Bogiem / You are God. He formed a fantastic duo with Julia Kijowska in Sławomir Fabicki's Miłość / Loving. In Obława / Manhunt by Marcin Kryszałowicz he played one of the best roles in his career, as a partisant executor, a man destroyed by war. He also starred in two films by Wojciech Smarzowski: Drogówka / Traffic Department and Pod mocnym aniołem / Angel based on Jerzy Pilch's novel. His year was crowned by a role in a BBC and TVP TV series Spies of Warsaw.
He won a Paszport Polityki in 2012 for his leading roles in Róża and Manhunt which were proof of his “absolute acting pitch which saves him from rubbish and commercialism. And the fact that he becomes better each year, on each film”.
In 2014 he appeared in one of most talked about premieres of the season - Władysław Pasikowski's Jack Strong. This spy thriller told the story of colonel Ryszard Kukliński, one of the most controversial figures in Polish post-war history. Kukliński, a colonel of the Polish Armed Forces, who started collaborating with the CIA in the times of the Cold War, is presented in Pasikowski's film as a patriot, who risked his life to save his country from a nuclear catastrophe. It became quite a big success, also thanks to Dorociński's input.
Often associated with roles of tough guys, soldiers and spies, Dorociński likes to make unexpected choices. In 2014 he also played in Jan Jakub Kolski's The Heart and the Sweetheart. In it he played Mirek, an alcoholic who wants to become sober for his young daughter.
A year later Dorociński played around with his image in Kinga Dębska's These Daughters of Mine (2015). In this succesful comedy/drama about sickness and death, he played a supporting role of one of the main protagonists' unemployed, unkempt husband. He fit very well into the film's warm, comic tone.
His following roles were a return to the tough guy's image. In HBO's TV series Pakt, based on the Norwegian Mammon, Dorociński played a corageous journalist, who doesn't feel intimidated by corrupted polititians and questionable businessmen, and tries to resolve a criminal riddle concerning the most powerful, nevermind the danger.
In 2015 Dorociński also worked on two international productions. First he appeared on set of a miniseries entitled Cape Town, based on a crime bestseller Dead Before Dying written by a South African author, Deon Meyer. Then he joined the cast of Sean Ellis's Anthropoid. It's a story of the assassination of the Reich-Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. In the film, which is an adaptation of Laurent Binet's great book HHhH, Dorociński played alongside top British actors: Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy and Toby Jones.
Author: Konrad J. Zarębski,December 2011; edited by BS, January 2013, updated by NMR, October 2016.
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