Joanna Kulig is a singer and film and theatre actress, born on 24th June 1982 in Krynica.
She has appeared in numerous theatrical performances, films, and TV shows. Her artistic achievement is characterised by an incredible variety of forms, tones and film genres. While in theatre, she also performed singing roles. Cinema lovers associate her with dramatic, powerful roles, whereas for TV viewers she is Iga from the sitcom O Mnie Się Nie Martw. In interviews she explains that she is more of an artist than a celebrity; however, she brings these roles together extremely well.
When she was a child, she wanted to become a singer. Kulig studied piano at a music primary school and started studying hospitality at a technical college without giving up on her music education. ‘I still check whether a hotel’s beds are made perfectly’, she joked while talking to Łukasz Maciejewski.
Cold War, directed by Paweł Pawlikowski – Image Gallery
ZIMNA WOJNA - oficjalny zwiastun filmu
Raised in a musical family, she became familiar with the presence of an audience. Together with her siblings, she performed at dances and weddings as well as on the streets of Krynica. When she was 16, she participated in the Polish TV programme Szansa Na Sukces (A Chance for Success), performing the song Między Ciszą a Ciszą by Grzegorz Turnau, and gained admiration for her voice and personality. Kulig won that episode and placed third in the programme's annual finale.
Her meeting with Grzegorz Turnau resulted in them making a song together – the piece made it to Turnau's 2002 record Nawet. In the same year the young artist took her chances in a popular TV talent show Idol and made it to the semi-finals.
Her dreams of becoming a singer made her apply to music school, but when she was not accepted to the Department of Jazz and Entertainment Music at the Academy of Music in Katowice for the second time, she took up acting with a specialisation in singing at the AST National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków. She got her degree there in 2007.
NARODOWY STARY TEATR www.stary.pl: AJSCHYLOS "ORESTEJA" REŻ. J. KLATA
In 2006, when she was still a student of the AST National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków, she made her stage debut at Stary Theatre when she played the part of Herma in Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Maja Kleczewska. Soon, she gained more roles, for example, in Sejm Kobiet and Operetta directed by Mikołaj Grabowski, Oresteia by Jan Klata, and Oczyszczenie by Petr Zelenka.
She also performed in some plays in other theatres, for instance: in Wassa Żelaznowa directed by Waldemar Raźniak, in musical Chopin Musi Umrzeć and Sonet Belzebuba by Krzysztof Jasiński .
Soon she became a specialist in daring debuts. In 2006, when she performed for the first time on the stage of Stary Theatre, she also performed in a television play – Doktor Halina directed by Marcin Wrona. She was awarded for this role in the Two Theatres Festival of the Polish Radio and Television Dramatic Art in Sopot.
Two years later she made her debut on the big screen in the film Wednesday, Thursday Morning directed by Grzegorz Packa – a variation of Before Sunrise by Linklater. Kulig played a young lady who would spend long hours with a randomly met boy engaged in a game of lies, half-truths, and seduction. She won a prize for the best debut at Gdynia Film Festival for the role.
Środa czwartek rano
Her early achievements, however, did not save her from experiencing a professional crisis. She considered quitting at the very beginning. This is how she mentions that period of her life in the book Aktorki (Actresses) by Łukasz Maciejewski:
I was aware of the decision I made. I stopped working in Stary Theatre, I hid all my awards for the role in Środa, Czwartek Rano in the wardrobe, and decided that my acting is over, or at least it was adjourned. When I was trying to convince myself that it was over and I quit as it was not for me, Doktor Halina came on TV. I was impressed. I was sitting watching this performance and thought: ‘Gosh, I'm really not that bad!’
In the films
Not only did Doktor Halina make Kulig keep acting but it also made her career gain momentum. She was noticed by Paweł Pawlikowski while performing in a play directed by Marcin Wrona. Pawlikowski was working on Ida at that time. He invited Kulig to audition, but she was too sensual to play Ida – an ethereal and pure character.
KOBIETA Z PIĄTEJ DZIELNICY - trailer
Before the Oscar-winning movie was produced, Pawlikowski created The Woman in the Fifth in 2011 and asked Joanna Kulig to play the role of a Polish barmaid who tries to get the main character to fall in love with her. Even when she working alongside world-famous actors such as Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas she delighted with her artlessness and sex appeal.
Unsurprisingly enough, after Pawlikowski's movie she was given other international roles. The first role was in Sponsoring directed by Małgorzata Szumowska, in which Kulig played a young prostitute. At Juliette Binoche's side, she created an ambiguous and courageous figure. Thanks to it, she got an award for the best supporting actress at Gdynia Film Festival, and a year later, an Eagle at the Polish Film Awards.
The rest of the offers she received from foreign directors. Kulig starred i: Remembrance directed by Anna Justice, the Hollywood movie Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters by Tommy Wirkoli, in which she played a mutilated witch at Jeremy Renner’s side, then Way Back Home directed by Bang Eun-jin as well as in The Innocents by Anne Fontaine – a story about nuns raped by Soviet soldiers during the Second World War.
SPONSORING - zwiastun PL
She also appeared in some interesting Polish productions, including Disco Polo – the irreverent debut of Maciej Bochniak (privately, the actress's husband), starring as a disco-polo celebrity and love interest of the main character, Pitbull: Dangerous Women directed by Patryk Vega as a tough policewoman, whereas in the famous sitcom O Mnie Się Nie Martw she showed her comedic talent, gaining the sympathy of a multimillion audience.
Meanwhile, there was another meeting between Kulig and Paweł Pawlikowski. In Ida the actress played a jazz singer, which was also a forerunner for the upcoming, important figure created by Joanna Kulig in Pawlikowski's next movie – Cold War. Here, she had an opportunity to present her singing and dancing abilities in her role as a girl from the provinces who dreams of a music career and whose path leads though performances with a folk band and dance ensemble.
Paweł Pawlikowski Wins Best Director At Cannes 2018
In order to face the challenges of the film, Kulig trained her voice for a few months and took classical and jazz singing lessons and strenuous dance classes – mainly in folk dance. Her hard work and effort paid off as she created a stirring portrait of a woman desiring love but doomed to failure.
Cold War premiered in May 2018 in Cannes, where it was awarded for the best direction. Many were delighted by Polish actors, especially with Kulig. Tim Robey from The Telegraph compared her to the immortal Jeanne Moreau in his review, whereas some others referred to her as the Polish Jennifer Lawrence. Joanna Kulig was also one of the favourites for the best actress of the Cannes Film Festival.