Before he made his U.S. directing debut with the classic Rosemary's Baby - and became the centre of attention because of his private life - the director started out as an actor and never relinquished that role
Roman Polański in Silik Sternfeld's "Magical Bicycle", photo: Courtesy of the Łódź Film Museum
Long before Polanski expanded into directing, he found his way into the industry through acting. What started off as a way to entertain his friends as a young child turned into film roles in Andrzej Wajda prodctions once he enrolled at the Film School in Łódź. While proving his brilliance as a film-maker, Polanski has not forsaken his acting talent and periodically accepts short roles. Most recently he made a cameo appearance in Nanni Moretti's Quiet Chaos. Culture.pl takes it back to the 1950s to show his first steps.
Andrzej Wajda's A Generation, 1954
Ryszard Kotys, Tadeusz Łomnicki, Roman Polański, Urszula Modrzyńska, Tadeusz Janczar in Andrzej Wajda!s "A Generation", 1954, photo: Studio Filmowe Kadr / Filmoteka Narodowa/www.fototeka.fn.org.pl
Polanski's first film role was also a debut for Andrzej Wajda - as a director. It is the story of youngsters in Nazi occupied Poland who enter the Gwardia Ludowa, a communist armed organization in Poland organised by the Soviet Union led Polish Workers Party. The film set is where Polanski met the giants of Polish cinema - Janusz Morgenstern, Jerzy Wójcik and "the godfather" of Polish cinematography Jerzy Lipman. A Generation marked the beginning of Polanski's path.
Silik Sternfeld's Magical Bicycle, 1955
Aleksander Sewruk and Roman Polański in Silik Sternfeld's "Magical Bicycle, 1955, photo: Courtesy of the Łódź Film Museum
In the film he plays Adaś. Of the film scenes is based on an event from Polański childhood during which he was knocked senseless by a thief who stole his bike.
Andrzej Munk's Bad Luck, 1959
Roman Polański in Andrzej Munk's "Bad Luck", 1959, photo: Studio Filmowe Kadr / Filmoteka Narodowa/www.fototeka.fn.org.pl
A small role in an important movie, Andrzej Munk's Bad Luck is the story of a man whose life is a series of fiascos. Piszczyk says he is unlucky, and blames bad luck for his sad fate. In reality, driven by a need to be successful, he behaves like an unprincipled opportunist, which combined with his innate stupidity sets him far away from his goals. Polanski plays a tutor is a film which "is not just a tale about an opportunist's life, " film critic A. Jackiewicz wrote, "but also, or perhaps primarily, a tale about the country's history which made such opportunism possible".
Janusz Morgenstern's Goodbye, See You Tomorrow, 1960
Roman Polański and Zbigniew Cybulski in Janusz Morgenstern's "Goodbye, See You Tomorrow", 1960, photo: Studio Filmowe Kadr / Filmoteka Narodowa/www.fototeka.fn.org.pl
Playing alongside the famous Zbigniew Cybulski who is the main character in Morgenstern's film, Polanski is Romek. The plot of the movie revolves around Jacek who falls in love with the daughter of the French Consul - Margueritte. He shows her Gdańsk of the 1950s - a city full of student theatres and Gothic monuments. Jacek is not the only one contending for the girl, once other men show up the girl cannot make her mind up and finally leaves without saying goodbye.
Andrzej Wajda's Innocent Sorcerers, 1960
Roman Polański, Jan Zylber, Andrzej Trzaskowski, Krzysztof Komeda, Andrzej Nowakowski, Henryk Kurek, Tadeusz Łomnicki, Andrzej Wojciechowski in Andrzej Wajda's "Innocent Sorcerers", 1960, photo: Studio Filmowe Kadr / Filmoteka Narodowa/www.fototeka.fn.org.pl
In Wajda's story of young people of the jazz age, rebellious and alienated from greater society, Polanski is a double bass player. Full of new wave frivolity and charm, at the time, the film was considered groundbreaking.
Roman Polański's The Fearless Vampire Killers, 1967
Roman Polański in his film "The Fearless Vampire Killers", photo: Mary Evans Picture Library / Forum
In his own film, Polański plays Alfred, the assistant of a professor who seeks to destroy the ancient tribe of Transylvanian vampires. Their adventures abound in funny as well as terrifying situations. The film is a parody of classic vampire horror. On the set, Polanski met Sharon Tate, who played Alfred's beloved and would marry the director.The script was written by Polański and Gerard Brach.
Roman Polański's Chinatown, 1974
An American neo-noir film starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston, Polanski is the henchman who slashes Nicholson's nose.
Roman Polański's The Tenant, 1976
Polański played the role of Trelkovsky, a lonely émigré who does not realise the danger he is in when renting a flat in an old Parisian tenement. He is driven into illness by the other tenants, who are filled with xenophobia and dislike of foreigners and émigrés. Letting himself submit to oppression, just like the previous tenant, he commits suicide. The script was written by Polański and Brach, based on a novel by Roland Topor.
Deran Sarafian's Back in the USSR, 1992
Frank Whaley, Natalya Negoda and Roman Polański in "Back in the USSR", 1992, photo: East News
Set in Moscow at the time of Gorbachev's revolutionary glasnost and perestroika, the U.S. thriller shows a young American student from Chicago who gets involved with a group of people interested in stolen artwork. The film was directed by Deran Sarafian and stars Frank Whaley, Natalya Negoda and Polański.
Andrzej Wajda's The Revenge, 2002
Roman Polański in Andrzej Wajda's "The Revenge", 2002, photo: Vision/ East News
Polański is Papkin, an eloquent nobleman whose main attribute is his sense of humour - he is a coward and a liar who gets by because people like him. Andrzej Wajda's film is based on the classic comedy from the early 19th century by Aleksander Fredro. The Revenge involves two enemies residing in two halves of the same castle - the plot of revolves around aristocratic intrigues, marriages for money and a love story.
Brett Ratner's Rush Hour 3, 2007
The Polish director appears in the action-comedy film alongside Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as a French police official involved in Chan and Tucker's characters' case.
Editor: MJ 21.06.2013, 18.07.2013