Film and theatre actor, writer. Born on 27 March 1957 in Opole.
Film, television and theatre actor. He is also a writer, with several books and volumes of poetry to his credit.
He graduated from the Acting Department of the State Theatre School (PWST) in Kraków in 1980. He then joined the Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw, debuting straight away in a major dramatic part. He played the title role of Kordian in the drama by Juliusz Słowacki in a less-than-noteworthy production by Bohdan Cybulski (1980). This was followed by more roles at this Warsaw theatre run by Zygmunt Hübner - Sister Inez in Eduardo Manet's The Nuns directed by Anna Matysiak (1982), Haimon in Helmut Kajzar's Antygona / Antigone directed by the playwright (1982), and also the very well played parts of Cesar von Muck in Klaus Mann's Mephisto directed by Michał Ratyński (1983) and Cyryl in Witold Gombrowicz's Iwona, księżniczka Burgunda / Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy in a 1983 production by Hübner. Thus, Pieczyński appeared mostly in contemporary plays. He was also John in the sharp and witty The Department by David Williamson, directed by Piotr Cieślak (1984).
As a newly graduated actor, in 1980 Pieczyński made his first film appearance. In the TV series Dom / The House directed by Jan Łomnicki, he played the part - greatly appreciated by audiences and critics alike - of Bronek Talar, a hero of socialist labour who eventually becomes an alcoholic and dies a tragic death. Soon the young actor was offered more film parts. He played Wrzesień, a Union of Polish Youth (ZMP) activist and careerist in Jerzy Domaradzki's political picture Wielki bieg / The Big Race (1981). He was also the protagonist in Janusz Zaorski's Jezioro Bodeńskie / Lake Constance based on the prose of Stanisław Dygat (1984). He created a moving portrait of a young member of the Polish intelligentsia burdened by the experience of war. For these two roles, he won an award at the Polish Film Festival in Gdańsk in 1986. In the first half of the 1980s Pieczyński was a young star of Polish cinema. During this time he also played Marek, boyfriend of Marianna, a girl from the underclass played by Dorota Stalińska in Barbara Sass's psychological film Krzyk / The Scream (1981). He appeared in three films about the lives of writers. He was Kamil Kurant in the TV series Życie Kamila Kuranta / The Life of Kamil Kurant directed by Grzegorz Warchoł - based on the autobiographical novel by Zbigniew Uniłowski (1982). He also played the tragically killed poet Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński in Ludmiła Niedbalska's biographical picture Dzień czwarty / Day Four (1984), while in Feliks Falk's Idol (1984) he was Tomasz, a journalist who follows the life of a recently deceased famous writer and gradually begins identifying with him.
In 1986, even before he received his award at the film festival in Gdańsk, at the peak of his career, Pieczyński emigrated to the United States, to Chicago, where he spent nine years. At first he worked in different jobs, but soon started making a living from acting, appearing on stage and in films. He returned to Poland in 1995 and was immediately offered three major film roles. In Jan Jakub Kolski's poetic film about love, Grający z talerza / Playing from the Plate (1995), he played the title role of Lunda, a man who creates music from pieces of plates, treating the decorations on them like notes. After that he worked with Barbara Sass again, this time on her Pokuszenie / Temptation (1995), a picture about the nature of freedom, loneliness, love, and religion under Stalinism. He played the governor of a prison camp, a secret police agent who is nevertheless an ambiguous character - the embodiment of evil, he sometimes also reveals a human side. In Krzysztof Lang's Prowokator / Provocateur (1995), a thriller set in the early 20th century about conspirators fighting against the tsarist authorities and about the freedom offered by mountaineering, he played the part of Andrzej Woyda. He said about his roles in the 1990s:
"They all allowed me to say something genuine and important, I think, about the attitudes, mistakes, delusions of mature people. After all, I returned to Polish cinema a mature man. If I feel an emotional impulse when reading a script, I know it's something for me, that the part could throw me into a fever which leads into a kind of trance. Intensity of feeling gives you a special courage and internal orderliness." ("Film" 2002, No. 2)
In 2002 Pieczyński again appeared in a film by Jan Jakub Kolski, this time as war-time policeman Jodła in Daleko od okna / Keep Away from the Window [aka "Far from the Window"], a psychological drama about a Jewish woman in hiding. A year later he played in the intimate, small-scale picture Jutro będzie niebo / Heaven Comes Tomorrow, the feature debut of Jarosław Marszewski. He created the character of a smuggler disillusioned with life who develops a deep though not fully explainable friendship with a 12-year-old girl who is very lonely, just like him. Pieczyński also had the bit part of Marek Gębczyński in Roman Polański's The Pianist (2002), and as Jacob de Roy was a member of the cast of Peter Greenaway's film about Rembrandt, Nightwatching, part of which was also shot in Poland. He gained popularity among the general public as doctor Bruno Walicki in the soap opera Na dobre i na złe / For Better and for Worse which has been running since 1999. He appeared in the role of Friar Czeremcha in Kolski's latest picture, Jasminum (2006), and in the role of General Władysław Sikorski in Anna Jadowska's Generał. Zamach na Gibraltarze / General. Attempt at Gibraltar (2009). His other roles of real historical figures include Jerzy Korczak in John Kent Harrison's The Corageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2009), Zbigniew Brzeziński in Władysław Pasikowski's Jack Strong (2014) and Jan Lechoń in the highly anticipated new film by Andrzej Wajda Powidoki / Afterimages (2017) about the painter Władysław Strzemiński.
He also played in a number of popular genre films about contemporary Poland. In 2011 he was the father of the main protagonist in Jan Komasa's highly acclaimed Suicide Room alongside Jakub Gierszał and Agata Kulesza. In 2015 he played one of the main roles in A Grain of Truth directed by Borys Lankosz and based on the best-selling crime series by Zygmunt Miłoszewski. From time to time he also appears in popular television series such as Lekarze, Prawo Agaty and Paradoks.
Since his return to Poland, Pieczyński has not appeared in a stage play.
"I spend more time on set, because film as such has always interested me more. I admit, though, that great theatre is an equally great challenge, a wonderful adventure", he said. "Poor theatre, on the other hand, is much worse than poor film. In a film, I can defend my vision of the character I'm playing. In theatre, meanwhile, if I have to appear for a whole year in a production I detest, that's just demoralising." ("Tygodnik Nowa Ziemia Pilska" 2005, No. 13)
However, Pieczyński has made numerous appearances in the Television Theatre. He worked with Agnieszka Glińska, for example, playing Abelard in her production of Roger Vailland's Heloise and Abelard (1997) and Gregers in Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck (1997). He was also the title character of Brand in the play by Ibsen directed by Krzysztof Lang (1999). He has appeared in adaptations of contemporary Polish novels, playing Krynicki in Jacek Głębski's Kuracja / The Treatment directed by Wojciech Smarzowski (2001) and Hans Muller in Andrzej Szczypiorski's Piękna pani Seidenman / The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman in a production by Janusz Kijowski (2003). He also gave an excellent interpretation of the title character in Maciej Pieprzyca and Bartosz Kurowski's Fryzjer / The Barber in a production by Pieprzyca (2004).
Krzysztof Pieczyński is also a writer, with several books and volumes of poetry to his credit. He has published the poetic books Wiersze z aniołem ["Poems With an Angel"] (1997), Słońce mruczy ["The Sun Purrs"] (2000), Zebrane z powietrza ["Gathered from the Air"] (2002), Ikony ["Icons"] (2004), and Sto snów jednej nocy ["A Hundred Dreams from One Night"] (2005), the collection of short stories Podgarbiony ["Stooped"] (2001), and the biographical book Listy z Ameryki ["Letters from America"] (2005) - a fictionalised memoir of his stay in the United States.
- 1983 - The "Radar'83" award at the Edward Stachura Poetic Meeting in Toruń, for a prominent personality and excellent technique, for his roles at Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny - the title role in Juliusz Słowacki's Kordian directed by Bohdan Cybulski, the role of Cesar von Muck in Klaus Mann's Mephisto directed by Michał Ratyński, and the role of Cyryl in Witold Gombrowicz's Iwona, księżniczka Burgunda / Yvonne, Princess of Burgundy in a production by Zygmunt Hübner;
- 1986 - Bronze Gdańsk Lions for best actor at the 11th Polish Film Festival in Gdańsk, for the films Jezioro Bodeńskie / Lake Constance by Janusz Zaorski and Wielki bieg / The Big Race by Jerzy Domaradzki;
- 2000 - Award for best supporting actor at the 25th Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, for Daleko od okna / Keep Away from the Window by Jan Jakub Kolski;
- 2001 - Award for best actor at the 26th Polish Film Festival in Gdynia, for Jutro będzie niebo / Heaven Comes Tomorrow by Jarosław Marszewski;
- 2002 - Fourth place in a poll by "TeleRzeczpospolita" to choose the most popular actor;
- 2004 - Award at the 4th Two Theatres Festival of Polish Radio and Polish Television Theatre in Sopot, for the part of Karol in Maciej Pieprzyca and Bartosz Kurowski's Fryzjer / The Barber directed by Pieprzyca; Tele-Ekran - award in the "favourite male character" category, for the role of Bruno Walicki in the TV series Na dobre i na złe / For Better and for Worse.
Author: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, February 2007, updated by NMR, August 2016.