A theatre and film actor born in 1964. He studied at the National Academy of Theatre in Warsaw at the Faculty of Acting and the Faculty of Direction.
He performed in the Rampa Theatre in Warsaw and in the Scene Presentations Theatre (Teatr Scena Prezentacje) in Mart Crowley's Dicreet Charm of Fauns directed by Romuald Szejd (1992). In the Scene Presentations Theatre, he also performed in Francois Sagan's Fainted Horse, Willis Hall's and Keith Waterhouse's Billy the Liar and in the evening of French song entitled Life in Pink. He played in the National Theatre in Wyspianski's Night of November staged in 1997.
Chyra also made some attempts in the field of direction. He staged The History of Alcoholism in Poland (1994) in the Old Powder Magazine Theatre (Teatr Stara Prochownia) and Katarzyna Grochola's To Bite Through the Earthworm at the Upstairs Stage (Scena Na Pietrze) in Poznań. One year later, he staged Harold Pinter's Lover at the Centre of Culture Theatre (Centrum Kultury Teatr) in Grudziądz.
As an actor he became recognisable thanks to a supporting role in Krzysztof Krauze's film The Debt, where he played the demonic Gerard who blackmailed two young businessmen. He also starred in Radoslaw Piwowarski's Order of Emotions, Krauze's Great Things, Juliusz Machulski's Money is Not All and in the low-budget Caulliflowerr by Jacek Borcuch.
Successful in cinema, Chyra returned to the theatre. As he explained before the premiere of Gorky's Barbarians directed by Agnieszka Glińska in the Contemporary Theatre in Warsaw:
I have always treated the theatre as a place where the actor knows his highest fulfilment. I think that when one gets an interesting theatrical proposal it is a professional obligation to accept it.
Soon, Chyra confirmed his excellent disposition playing Dionysus in Eurypides' Bacchantes staged at the Variety Theatre and in the role of Chrisitan in Thomas Viterberg's and Morgens Rukov's Celebration directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna. As Roman Pawłowski wrote for Gazeta Wyborcza:
6 Polish Theatre Directors Who Revolutionised the Stage
Andrzej Chyra's Dionysus emanates with uncontrolled power, hidden under the grotesque disguise. He is a fitful boy, who asked about the Dionisian rituals, answers in the tone meaning: I know, but I won't tell. But in the beginning of the show there is no boy, there is an animal; Chyra is standing back to the audience and says the prologue gabbling like if he was only about to learn to speak. The magnetic force of Dionysus attracts even his greatest enemy, Penteus (Jacek Poniedziałek). Penteus is ready to put a female disguise and crawl in dirt to make Dionysus show him the secret rituals. Their struggle is like a love embrace. In this play, Chyra is a demon leading to ruin, I would rather not meet him on my way.
Between 2000 and 2007 Chyra worked in Rozmaitości Theatre (which changed its name to TR Warszawa in 2003). Since 2008 he's a member of Warsaw's Nowy Teatr team, led by the director Krzysztof Warlikowski. He starred in most of Warlikowski's plays: as Antonio in Shakespeare's The Tempest (2003), as Chanan/Adam S. in Dybbuk based on texts by Szymon Ansky and Hanna Krall (2003) and as Roy M. Cohn in Tony Kushner's Angels in America (2007). Łukasz Drewniak wrote for Dziennik – Kultura:
Andrzej Chyra plays the cynical lawyer Cohn in an exaggerated, furious way. As if he jumped with every hateful word. Evil boils in him as water in a pot. I haven't seen such an original role for a long time.
The actor also played Andrew in Martin Crimp's The Treatment directed by Artur Urbański (2002) and the title protagonist of Giovanni based on Mozart and Moliere, directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna (2006). In Nowy Theatre he worked on almost every production by Warlikowski – (A)pollonia based on Euripides and Hanna Krall (2009), A Streetcar based on Tennesee Williams's play alongside Isabelle Huppert (2010), Kabaret Warszawski (2013), and We Are Leaving (2018).
Lately, he's worked as opera director: in Gdańsk he realised The Players based on Gogol's libretto and with Shostakovich's music, completed by the Polish composer Krzysztof Meyer (2013). Jacek Hawryluk wrote in "Gazeta Wyborcza":
Andrzej Chyra's directorial debut was very successful: he made a true musical theatre out of The Players. Chyra created a study on deceit. The plot is extremely compelling. Chyra leads his actors in a very distinct way: they are all different, all characteristic (...) He creates not only relations between cheating cardsharps, creating tension in the play, but also infects us with the absurd and the dark humour of the situation. It is a truly comical opera.
A great challenge for Chyra as an opera director was the mise en scene of Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, written for the stage by Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk and composed by Paweł Mykietyn. He directed the play for the Malta Festival in Poznań in 2015. The risk he took paid off – Chyra was awarded Konrad Swinarski Award for directing the opera. In 2018 he directed another work – one of history's most popular operas, Carmen. It premiered in Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera.
In the following years Chyra played many interesting roles in movies. He was the journalist Borys in Roland Rowiński's Say it, Gabi (2003), the intellectual Dawid, who killed a man who raped his wife in Symmetry by Konrad Niewolski (2003), Mała's father in Andrzej Jakimowski's meditative Squint Your Eyes (2003), "the Kiddo" - a member of the younger generation in a drama about the elderly Tulips by Jacek Borcuch (2004). He also played the psychotic police inspector Marek Jeklewski in Niewolski's Palimpsest (2006).
He played the virtual love addict Jakub in Witold Adamek's Loneliness on the Net (2006), the electritian Leszek in a Polish and German coproduction Strike directed by Volker Schlondorff (2006) and colonel Jerzy in Andrzej Wajda's Katyń (2007). He created a great leading role as the ruthless bailiff Lucjan Bohme in Feliks Falk's The Collector (2005). As Konrad J. Zarębski wrote for Kino magazine:
Andrzej Chyra became known thanks to similiar roles of ambitious thirty year olds, who crave success without taking others into account. In 'The Collector' he's a specialist, representing Polish yuppies, who performs his duties effectively and consistently. Not only his victims - the debtors - are afraid of him, but also other lawyers around him.
He was nominated for the Polish Film Award in 2011 for his portrayal of a honourable officer of the Polish navy in Borcuch's All That I Love. In the same year he appeared in one of the most original recent films - Adrian Panek's Daas.
Nevermind all of his success, he's still 'hungry' and challenges himself with surprising projects. In 2013 he appeared in The Performer - an experimental half-movie, half-performance about Oskar Dawicki and in two shorts by young directors - Piotr Sułkowski's Miruna and Maria Zbąska's - Psubrat.
Andrzej Chyra's talent and charisma raise interest not only among Polish filmmakers. In 2011 he played alongside Olga Kurylenko (Bond's girl from Quantum of Solace) in Michale Boganim's Land of Oblivion. The Israeli director, author of the documentary Odessa... Odessa! tells the story of the Chernobyl catastrophe, looking at it from the perspective of people living in the small town of Pripyat.
A year later he starred in the Swedish thriller Mörkt vatten directed by Rafael Edholm. In 2011 he starred as a sadistic client of a young prostitute in Małgorzata Szumowska's Elles alongside Juliette Binoche and Joanna Kulig.
In Szumowska's next film In the Name of... he played one of his best recent roles. It is a story of a homosexual priest, who is relocated to a village in Mazuria district, to open a centre for disturbed youth. At the 2013 Berlinale he was named on of the best actors, and the film about a man coping with his forbidden passions was emotionally seductive. A review in the Hollywood Reporter read:
Chyra creates a charming portrayal of a priest with many weaknesses, creating a strong relationship with the audience from the very beginning.
In 2013 for the role of priest Adam, Chyra received the best actor prize at the Gdynia Film Festival, confirming his position as one of the best actors of his generation.
Mirosław Bałka: a Molehill, a Collapse, and Trenches – An Interview
He didn't rest on his laurels though, right the opposite: he still works a lot, choosing diverse projects. He plays in features of young directors (Jacek Lusiński's Carte Blanche, 2015; Wojciech Kasperski's The High Frontier, 2016; Tomasz Wasilewski's United States of Love) as well as in films by older masters (Robert Gliński's Stones for the Rampart, 2014, Jerzy Skolimowski's 11 minutes, 2015).
In the following years Chyra consistently appeared in varied productions. He starred in the acclaimed The Last Family (2016) directed by Jan P. Matuszyński, so heavily transformed by the costumes as to be nearly unrecognisable. In 2017 he played in the black-and-white, erudite Beyond Words by Urszula Antoniak, the international co-production Frost depicting a story set in the war-ridden Ukraine, the thriller Ach Śpij Kochanie (Sleep, baby, sleep) directed by Krzysztof Lang, and Photon by Norman Leto – in the latter one, Chyra once more co-operated with a director who is first and foremost working in the field of visual arts rather than film (this was also the case with the aforementioned film Performer directed by Maciej Sobieszczański and Łukasz Ronduda). In 2018 the actor appeared in two films by Poland's renowned directors – 7 Emotions by Marek Koterski and Ether by Krzysztof Zanussi.
Pass the Popcorn: Polish Cinema After 1989
June 2002, updated by NMR, June 2016, updated by NS, March 2019.