Bogusław Linda is a film and theatre actor and director. He was born on 27th June, 1952, in Toruń.
He might be the only star of contemporary Polish cinema, and its most controversial actor. Tadeusz Lubelski wrote:
The audience is reluctant to separate his roles from his private identity and it is the evolution of that figure, the result of the actor's roles combined with his personal image, which is especially intriguing: it is both appealing and disconcerting. Some say he is a constructed idol, […] while others describe him as a fallen idol and should be blamed for his own degradation. (Kino no 7/8, 1994)
Bogusław Linda was born in 1952 in Toruń. In 1975, he graduated from the Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Kraków. He spent the first two seasons of his acting career at the Stary Theatre in Kraków. Between 1977-81, he was a crew member of the Polski Theatre in Wrocław. He later moved to Warsaw-based theatres: Współczesny and Studio. Between 1977-81 he also taught at the Wrocław branch of the Kraków Academy.
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He had several significant roles at the Polski Theatre in Wrocław: he played Hamlet in Piotr Paradowski's staging of Shakespeare's play (1977), Wituś in Skiz by Gabriela Zapolska, directed by Ewa Bułhak (1978), Hans Castorp in After Thomas Mann (Według Thomasa Manna) – Piotr Paradowski's performance based on Mann's writings (1979), and Rawski in Tomasz Łubieński's Encampment (Koczowisko), directed by Tadeusz Minc (1979.)
Linda worked with Jerzy Grzegorzewski three times, playing e.g., Robinson in Franz Kafka's Amerika (Ameryka, 1980), realized at the Polski Theatre in Wrocław. In the mid-1980s, the actor had his first go at directing. He staged Farewell Performance (Przedstawienie pożegnalne) by Peter Müller at Studio Theatre in Warsaw (1985) and The Life of Monsieur de Molière (Molière) by Mikhail Bulgakov at Juliusz Osterwa Theatre in Lublin (1986).
Between 1980 and 1982, Linda had great roles in some of the most notorious Polish films of the decade. In Fever (Gorączka) by Agnieszka Holland he played an anarchist and bandit called Gryziak – a desperate, uncompromising and tragic man. Grażyna Stachówna wrote:
Gryziak is amoral and evil. He is aggressive and demonic, possessed by rebellion and desire for freedom, but also by contempt for the world, people, and his own life. At the same time, he is a fascinating man, both beautiful and ugly, with a wolfish smile – which will later become Linda's trademark – emanating a frightening sensuality. (Dialog no.2, 1997)
In 1981, Linda played Witek Długosz in Blind Chance (Przypadek) by Krzysztof Kieślowski. He was very convincing in acting out three different versions of his protagonist's life – a youth activist, a committed dissident, and a career-driven doctor. The actor again worked with Agnieszka Holland on her drama A Lonely Woman (Kobieta samotna, 1981), in which he gave a striking performance as Jacek – a crippled, distraught, and rejected man. The same year saw the release of such films as Freelancer (Wolny strzelec) by Wiesław Saniewski, with Linda as an independent photojournalist Rysiek, and Shivers (Dreszcze) by Wojciech Marczewski, in which he played an officer of the communist Security Services. In Andrzej Wajda's Man of Iron (Człowiek z żelaza, 1981), Linda played the role of Dzidek. The latter director “presented the actor as a bright and sensitive young man, maybe even lyrical, but not lacking internal strength and determination.” (Grażyna Stachówna, Dialog no. 2, 1997)
In 1982 Linda played the die-hard communist Klemens, detained in the 1950s, in Janusz Zaorski's The Mother of Kings (Matka królów). In the same year, Andrzej Wajda cast him as a passionate revolutionary Saint-Just in the Polish-French film Danton. Four of the above films (Freelancer, A Lonely Woman, Blind Chance, and The Mother of Kings) were censored by the authorities in Poland. Audiences had the opportunity to see Linda in them only some years later, in Film Discussions Club (DKF) screenings.
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Initially, the artist specialized in playing young rebels and arrogant adepts seeking their paths in life. This image appeared even more crystalline, as it was first created in righteous, subversive films: from 'Man of Iron', to the legendary forbidden films: 'Blind Chance' or 'The Mother of Kings'. – wrote Tadeusz Lubelski about Linda's acting. (Kino no.7/8, 1994)
He went from playing characters entangled in politics and seeking the meaning of life, to becoming a great screen persona […] he owes his popularity and the rebellious image to the cinema of moral anxiety; if it wasn't for him, however, that genre would miss its tint and temperature. He played full on, just as if he was in a fever – noted Magdalena Łuków (Film no.1, 1993)
In the 1980s, Linda played in several films made in Hungary, such as Lost Illusions (Elveszett Illuziok) directed by Gyul Gazdag (1982) and Eskimo Woman Feels Cold (Eszkimó asszony fázik) by Janos Xantos (1983). He also created the vivid, ironic character of Bolek in a saga about German aristocrats in The Magnate (Magnat) by Filip Bajon (1986).
In 1986 Linda played in Waldemarz Krzystek's film Suspended (W zawieszeniu), while in 1987 he appeared in Kill Me, Cop (Zabij mnie, glino) by Jacek Bromski, and in 1990, in Tomasz Wiszniewski's The Scoundrel (Kanalia).
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Linda started playing entirely different characters: impostors and security police workers, outlaws and rapists. (Tadeusz Lubelski, Kino no. 7/8, 1994)
He also played in Krzysztof Kieślowski's The Decalogue (Dekalog, 1988) and in Wojciech Biedroń's controversial film debut In Flagranti (1991).
In 1988, the actor directed the medium-length film The End (Koniec) at the Karol Irzykowski Film Studio. In 1990, he made the film Seychelles (Seszele).
By the early 1990s, Linda was an unquestionable star of Polish cinema. He had received awards at the Gdynia Film Festival (which up until 1986 took place in Gdańsk) and the Golden Duck from the readers of Film magazine. He was considered as having impact comparable to actors such as Zbigniew Cybulski or Daniel Olbrychski. However, he didn't become a true public idol until starring in films by Władysław Pasikowski. He played Lieutenant Arek in Kroll (1991), Franz Mauer in Pigs (Psy, 1992) and Pigs 2: The Last Blood (Psy 2. Ostatnia krew, 1994). He also appeared as Pawik in Private City (Miasto Prywatne) by Jacek Skalski (1994). He created a new type of hero. He was:
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A mature man with deep shaved, short hair, slightly filthy and sweaty, dressed carelessly, but with strong elements: black leather, army belt, heavy duty boots, metal earring, tattoo. He is nonchalant, tough, focused, always ready to attack or defend, his potential aggression is constantly apparent in his movement and behaviour. He speaks laconically, and when it's necessary – crudely, he can have a lot to drink and not be affected. Women are drawn to him, but he doesn't trust them; in the past he was cheated on, hurt, maybe even humiliated, so he despises and neglects women. He is loyal towards his friends. He can be ruthless, and is able to kill efficiently and professionally. At the end of the day, underneath the macho tough guy mask, hides a worn out, miserable and suffering man. Just like all other butch figures, he is sentimental and occasionally shows that.
– Grażyna Stachówna (Dialog no.2, 1997)
The actor solidified that image in subsequent roles in films by Pasikowski, which however did not repeat the success of Kroll or Pigs. Linda therefore began acting in war and action films: Demons of War (Demony wojny wg Goi, 1998), Operation Simoom (Operacja Samum, 1999), and Reich (2001).
Linda became a pop culture hero, a masculine role model for the younger generation of viewers. At the same time, his new image met with resistance. Some critics resented him for the fact that “he used to express the aspirations of his generation, while now he makes eyes at the next generation.” (Tadeusz Lubelski, Kino no. 7/8, 1994).
Linda's roles in Kroll and Pigs brought more him awards and distinctions. The actor was at the same time trying to escape the image attached to him from Pasikowski's films. In Time for Witches (Pora na czarownice) by Piotr Łazarkiewicz, he played Prester John (1993), in Johnny Water-Sprite (Jańcio Wodnik) by Jan Jakub Kolski (1993) – Stygma, as well as Michał – a father fighting for the right to look after his daughter in Maciej Ślesicki's film Daddy (Tato, 1995) and the assassin Artur Herling in Krzysztof Lang's Provocateur (Prowokator, 1995). In 1996, he played Michał – an anthropology researcher, in She-Shaman (Szamanka) by Andrzej Żuławski. He appeared in another of Kolski's films, Jasminum (2006), as an actor, Zeman. In 1999, he collaborated with Andrzej Wajda, who cast him as Jacek Soplica in his adaptation of Adam Mickiewicz's Pan Tadeusz. Linda also played Petronius in Quo Vadis, directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz (2000).
The actor also starred in a few comedies: Happy New York (Szczęśliwego Nowego Jorku, 1997) by Janusz Zaorski, Deserters' Gold (Złoto dezerterów, 1998) by Janusz Majewski, and Segment '76 by Oskar Kaszyński (2002).
Linda returned to directing in 2000. He made the comedy film The Sucker Season (Sezon na leszcza), in which he played Gliniarz – a primitive and clumsy police officer. In 2006 he directed a film in a completely different style. The Skylights (Jasne błękitne okna) concentrated on women and was a nostalgic story about friendship, memories, and an attempt to regain one's own place in the world.
The actor continued to participate in Polish action and crime cinema, playing macho characters and gangsters. He played Cyna in Piotr Wereśniak's film Station (Stacja, 2001), the gangster Ptasior in television series Savage (Dziki, 2004) and Savage 2. The Duel (Dziki 2, Pojedynek) by Krzysztof Lang (2005), and Dżoker in Jacek Gąsiorowski's crime comedy Surfers's Time (Czas Surferów, 2005).
He also took part in a film experiment, or rather a filmed performance piece, referencing the poetics of Western movies – Summer Love, directed by Piotr Uklański (2006), in which he played the Sheriff. In the recent years he played a few roles in TV series, appearing on the big screen rather rarely (in films such as Olaf Lubaszenko's Sztos 2, Jerzy Hoffman's Battle of Warsaw 1920 and Patryk Vega's Pitbull: New Order). Twice, with success, he's worked as a theatre director: in 2012 he staged Nikolaj Kolada's Merilyn Mongol with Agata Kulesza and Marcin Dorociński, and in 2014 - Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar named Desire with Julia Kijowska and Tomasz Schuchardt.
His great return to the big screen is the role of Władysław Strzemiński in Andrzej Wajda's last film, Powidoki / Afterimages, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was also shown at the Gdynia and Rome Film Festivals. It's also the Polish Oscar candidate for 2016.
Bogusław Linda shines in Afterimages. He reminds us again that he's not only the tough guy of Polish cinema, but also a greatly talented actor who can create subtle, emotional roles. His protagonist is not presented through fireworks or over-expression. The role is calm, balanced, at times really emotional and charistmatic, and also very demanding, since it's difficult to play a disabled man. Linda faced up to the challenge, giving a lot out of himself - wrote Adam Siennica (www.naekranie.pl).
- 1980 – honourable mention for the role of Rawski in Tomasz Łubieński's Encampment (Koczowisko) directed by Tadeusz Minc at Polski Theatre in Wrocław, 21st Festival of Polish Contemporary Arts in Wrocław
- 1981 – honourable mention for the role of Gryziak in Agnieszka Holland's film Fever (Gorączka) at the 8th Gdańsk Film Festival
- 1987 – Award for the best actor of the season, for his roles of Witek Długosz in Blind Chance (Przypadek) by Krzysztof Kieślowski and Bolek in The Magnate (Magnat) by Filip Bajon at the 12th Gdynia Film Festival; Gold Duck – award from the Film magazine
- 1988 – Award for Best Actor for the role of Jacek Grochala in A Lonely Woman (Kobieta samotna) by Agnieszka Holland at the 13th Gdynia Film Festival
- 1991 – Jury Award for the roles of: Arek in Kroll, directed by Władysław Pasikowski, Zbych in The Scoundrel (Kanalia), directed by Tomasz Wiszniewski, and Nowak in In Flagranti, directed by Wojciech Biedroń at the 16th Gdynia Film Festival
- 1992 – Gold Duck – award from the Film magazine; Main Prize for Best Male Actor, for the role of Franz Mauer in the film Pigs (Psy), directed by Władysław Pasikowski at the 17th Gdynia Film Festival
- 1994 – The Two Polish Colts of Polish Cinema Award for the role of Franz Mauer in the film Pigs 2: The Last Blood (Psy 2. Ostatnia krew), directed by Władysław Pasikowski, and the award from the Video Business magazine for the most popular Polish actor at the 3rd Video Forum in Katowice; Award for Best Actor for the role of Franz Mauer in the film Pigs (Psy), directed by Władysław Pasikowski at the 5th International Festival of Action and Adventure Films in Valenciennes, France
- 1995 – Jury Award for the Best Leading Actor for the role of Michał Sulecki in the film Daddy (Tato), directed by Maciej Ślesicki at the 20th Gdynia Film Festival
- 1996 – Gold Duck - award from the Film magazine;
- 1998 – the Biggest Surprise Award for the actors from the film Sekal Has to Die (Zabić Sekala), directed by Vladimír Michálek at the 3rd Wrocław Film Festival's New Polish Cinema competition
- 2000 – The Most Popular Pole of 1999 title awarded by the listeners of the Polish Radio
- 2001 – Best Comedy Film Award funded by Video Studio Gdańsk for the film The Sucker's Season (Sezon na leszcza), directed by Bogusław Linda at the 26th Gdynia Film Festival
- 2007 – Audience Award for the film The Skylights (Jasne błękitne okna) at the 13th Toruń Summer Film Festival
- 2009 - Silver Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis
Author: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, January 2004; update: November 2009. Translated by Ania Micińska, March 2015