Theatre and film and cabaret actor. Composer, songwriter. Born on 17 July 1961 in Brzeziny.
Theatre and film and cabaret actor. Composer, songwriter. Born on 17 July 1961 in Brzeziny.
In 1985 Zamachowski graduated from the Leon Schiller National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź. Initially he was associated with the Teatr '83 studio in Łódź, where he made his debut as a composer, composing music for Bruno Jasieński's Bal manekinów (Mannequin Ball) directed by Bogdan Michalik (1983). He also played Mikołaj in Anton Chekhov's Platonov directed by Maciej Prus.
Immediately after graduation, in 1985, he was hired by Jerzy Grzegorzewski to play at Warsaw's Teatr Studio. In Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera (1986), he was spectacular in the supporting role of Filch - an adept beggar, who repeatedly transforms himself to depict the model behavior of beggars. Zamachowski performed the role with great technical skill, ironically playing the hero's metamorphosis on the verge of pastiche. In 1988 he created Count Danilo Daniłowicz - in an adaptation of Grzegorzewski's operetta Usta milczą, dusza śpiewa (The Lips are Silent, the Soul Sings). In this role, he fully revealed his musical talent, and played passionately, especially when he showed his melodious desire for Sylvia, played by Anna Chodakowska.
'Because the two greatest heroes of the show are Anna Chodakowska and Zbigniew Zamachowski', Elżbieta Morawiec wrote in the Tygodnik Powszechny weekly. 'We do not get the impression that this was overly rehearsed role, with a constant effect - but acting 'live', in the 'here and now' - in one evening. These two actors are like the naked nerve of theater, as the corresponding tension flawlessly resounds on every pulse of light, music, emotion, situational comedy. 'Here and now', a short drama of eternity. This is why we love actors, love the theater', (Stanisław Zawiśliński, Zamach na Zamachowskiego, Warsaw 1994).
In 1991 Zamachowski played Mad Tomek in Grzegorzewski's Miasto liczy psie nosy (The City Counts Dog Noses) - again portraying a beggar-actor. This difficult, fragmentary role in the style of Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett was performed in a way that made it a reflection of the collective consciousness, a universal message. Two years later, a multi-dimensional, far-from-ordinary psychological drama, he played Ivan Petrovitch Voynitsky - the title character in Chechov's Uncle Vanya directed by Grzegorzewski. In his review of the performance Grzegorz Niziołek wrote:
Zamachowski plays Voynitsky, and (Wojciech) Malajkat plays Astrov. Rejuvenating these characters by several years is beautifully and simply explained in the play. A sense of wasted lives, wasted time, is primarily a matter of consciousness. Both actors know Grzegorzewski's theater, and know that the concealed truth of their characters is strongest, when the exposure (with the audience) is short and striking. (...) Zamachowski and Malajkat enjoy the greatest freedom, creating their roles in a variety of styles, compose portraits of characters, using a variety of acting styles: nuanced psychology, farce techniques, grotesque abbreviation.
Zamachowski 'plays a kind of tough duel of wasted lives and adversity of fate of a weak body, with a life-giving personality. And it stimulates the never-ending spirit of activity', wrote Andrzej Lis. 'Zamachowski's Harry Berlin is at one time almost ready to throw himself into the river with the same determination. (...) This dominance of the 'soul' over the 'body' is not only seen in this role - a sort of stare into the American acting tradition of the likes of Chaplin, but is one of the primary and perhaps original features of Zamachowski's acting' - claims Stanisław Zawiśliński in his book Zamach na Zamachowskiego ( A swing at Zamachowski).
Zamachowski acted in many supporting roles throughout his career, but it seems that his strengths and talents can also be witnessed in these minor roles. He is an actor, for whom even a short theatrical 'outing' is eagerly awaited. He played superb roles in, among others, Moliere's plays - Alceste in The Misanthrope directed by Ewa Bułhak (1995) and Piotrek in Dom Juan directed by Grzegorzewski (1996).
In 1997, he went to the National Theatre in Warsaw with Jerzy Grzegorzewski, who then became director of the National Theatre. He created a great performance there, playing in Witold Gombrowicz's Ślub (Wedding) directed by Grzegorzewski (1998). He based his role on the distance to theatrical form, but also included elements of terror and confusion, at other times, in turn, actually playing comical and plebeian elements. In 1999 he portrayed the main character in Tadeusz Różewicz's Kartoteka (The Card Index), directed by Kazimierz Kutz.
At the National Theatre, Zamachowski acted in several more Grzegorzewski productions: the Poet in Wesele (Wedding) by Wyspiański (2000) and Bottom in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (2001). He played a centaur in The Frogs by Aristophanes (2002) - a play which he directed. He made use of his stage experience, and his specific sense of humor. On the same stage he portrayed the role of Happy in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman directed by Kazimierz Kutz (2004), and Paganini in the Slaughterhouse by Sławomir Mrożek, directed by Agnieszka Lipiec-Wróblewska (2005). He played Estragon (in a duet with Wojciech Malajkat - Vladimir) in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, directed by Antoni Libera (2006) with comical lightness which gradually metamorphosed into a bitter despair.
In The Seafarer by the contemporary Irish playwright Conor McPherson, he played Sharky - a man who wagers his soul in a poker game. The play was staged in 2008 by Wojciech Malajkat. Zamachowski played the role of Władysław, the abandoned husband of the titular character in Lekkomyślna siostra (Careless sister) by Włodzimierz Perzyński directed by Agnieszka Glińska (2009).
Zamachowski has also acted in a number of comedies - as Leo in Klub hipochondryków (Hypochondriacs Club) written by Maggie W. Wright, staged by Wojciech Malajkat at Warsaw's Syrena Theatre (2003). The actor also composed the music for these performances. He has performed in musical productions. In Młynarski: czyli 3 elementy (Młynarski, or 3 elements) written and directed by Magda Umer (Atheneum Theatre in Warsaw, 2003), and Ulicy szarlatanów (The Street of Charlatans) by Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński directed by Jerzy Satanowski (Teatr na Woli, Warsaw, 2003). In the latter the actor also recited poetry by Gałczyński and masterfully performed one song.
Later, he also sang in a concert dedicated to the works of Marek Grechuta Steruj krwią swoją do Oceanu Spokoju (Let Your Blood Steer You to the Ocean of Peace) written and directed by Wojciech Kościelniak (2007).
In 1988 he made his debut in Television Theatre in Torrents of Spring by Ivan Turgenev, directed by Andrzej Maj. He played a number of significant television roles, including: the title role in Anton Chekhov's Platonov, directed by Andrzej Domalik (1992), Mozart in Amadeus by Peter Shaffer, directed by Maciej Wojtyszko (1993), the role of XX in Emigranci (Emigrants) by Sławomir Mrożek, directed by Kazimierz Kutz (1995), Głumow in Our Man by Alexander Ostrovsky, directed by Kazimierz Kutz (1996), Ivan Kuzmich Podkolyosin in Marriage by Nikolai Gogol, directed by Jerzy Stuhr (2002). He played the main character Senso in Przemianie 1999 by Lidia Amejko (2001, dir. Laco Adamik), variations on the famous story by Franz Kafka, and Dippold the Optician in the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Master, directed by Jolanta Ptaszyńska (2006). He also tried his hand in contemporary Polish dramas - the postman in Dzień przed zachodem słońca (Day Before Sunset) by Janusz Anderman (2003, dir. Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz).
Zamachowski debuted in cinematic productions at age 20 in Wielka majówka (Great May Day Picnic) by Krzysztof Rogulski (1981). In the 1980s and 1990s, he played in many Polish films.
His most famous roles include, among others, Piotr in Dotknięci (Touched) by Wiesław Saniewski (1988); assistant censor in the film Ucieczka z kina Wolność (Escape Drom the 'Liberty' Cinema) by Wojciech Marczewski (1990), as well as his role as disabled Edek - an alcoholic, in a moving film by Robert Gliński, Cześć, Tereska (2000).
He created one of his best film roles in Decalogue X by Krzysztof Kieslowski (1989) and Three Colours: White (1993), where he played the hairdresser Karol - the ambiguous and enigmatic character whose life is constantly undergoing change. In 1994 he collaborated on the film set of Kazimierz Kutz, who cast him in the role of Tomasz in Zawrócony (Reverted). Under the same director he also played Dudek in a comedy adventure set in the Stalinist era - Pułkownik Kwiatkowski (Colonel Kwiatkowski, 1995). He played Michał Wołodyjowski in Jerzy Hoffman's last production Ogniem i mieczem (With Fire and Sword, 1999). In the sober film Teresa Kotlarczyk - Prymas. Trzy lata z tysiąca (Teresa Kotlarczyk - Cardinal. Three Years of a Thousand, 2000) he played Cardinal Stanisław Skorodecki - the prison chaplain of Cardinal Wyszynski - clearly and with great inner peace. One notable miss, however, was his earlier role in Bal na dworcu w Koluszkach (The Ball at Koluszki Railway Sation) directed by Filip Bajon (1989), in which he played a young boy who wishes to emigrate from Poland.
The actor also starred as Matuszek in the great drama by Ryszard Brylski Żurek (2003). He created an excellent role as Jasiek, a man looking after a ten-year old girl who has run away from the city and her parents, in a moody, poetic film by Andrzej Jakimowski called Zmruż oczy (Squint Your Eyes, 2003).
Zamachowski also starred in the Franco-Polish-German production La petite prairie aux Bouleaux by Marcelina Loridan-Ivens (2003). He portrayed Gutek, a Polish Jew, the owner of a guesthouse in Kraków, who is visited by a French woman looking for her Polish roots and heavy with war-time memories spent in a concentration camp. The actor also played, among others Father Bieroński in the Polish-German film about the Gdańsk Unkenrufe by Robert Gliński (2005); Mr. Marek in the history of a provincial town - Ballada o Piotrowskim (The Ballad of Piotrowski) by Rafał Kapeliński (2007); a sports journalist in Kasia Adamik's film Boisko bezdomnych (The Offsiders) about a homeless football team (2008); captain Grążel in the Czech-Polish production Operacji Dunaj (Operation Dunaj) directed by Jacek Głomb (2009) and steelworker Ireneusz in Rafał Wieczyński's Popiełuszko. Wolność jest w nas / Popiełuszko. Freedom is within us about the legendary priest Jerzy Popiełuszko (2009). He played the main part in a comedy-drama directed by Sylwester Chęciński entitled Przybyli ułani /Uhlan's came (2005, in the series 'Polish Holidays'). He was a smalltown shopkeeper Marian, who becomes responsible for 'preparing' a veteran of the Polish-Bolshevik war. He also appeared in smaller roles in films about Poland's difficult history - Władysław Pasikowski's Aftermath (2012) and Jack Strong (2014) and Andrzej Wajda's Wałęsa. Man of Hope (2013). He played alongside Jim Carrey and Agata Kulesza in long-awaited True Crimes directed by Alexandros Avranas (2016).
The actor also successfully performed in comedies: he played a thief in the intelligent pastiche Ciało (Body) by Tomasz Konecki and Andrzej Saramonowicz, a gangster in the crime comedy Czas surferów (The Time of Surfers) by Jacek Gąsiorowski (2005) and a businessman Stanisław Góraj in the action comedy Dublerzy (The Doubles) by Marcin Ziębiński (2006).
Since the beginning of his acting career he was closely associated with cabaret theatre. During his studies he played in Poznań's cabaret TEY. In 1980 he showed his signature show at the Opole Festival, for which he received the second prize. That's when he was noticed by Krzysztof Rogulski and offered a role in Wielka majówka. He has performed songs by Agnieszka Osiecka, Jonasz Kofta and songs from Kabaret Starszych Panów. He wrote his own lyrics and composed the music.
Major awards and recognitions:
- 1985 – Award for his role as the Pianist in Voltaire's Prodigal Son, directed by Adam Hanuszkiewicz at the 3rd National Diploma productions Review of Theatre Schools;
- 1989 – Zbigniew Cybulski Award for his roles in films: Dotknięci by Wieslaw Saniewski,
- Zabij mnie glino by Jacek Bromski, Ludożerca, directed by Łukasz Wylężałka, Renata Mazur and Lucyna Kamińska, Zad wielkiego wieloryba by Mariusz Treliński and films from The Decalogue series by Krzysztof Kieslowski; Stanisław Wyspiański Prize for achievements in theater, film and stage acting;
- 1992 – Wiktor prize for the most popular television personalities - in the 'Actor' category;
- 1993 – Metronom '92 - prize awarded by the Sztandar Młodych for the show Big Zbig Show at Warsaw's Teatr Buffo; Wiktor; Aleksander Zelwerowicz Prize awarded by the magazine Teatr for his role in Uncle Vanya Anton Chekhov, directed by Jerzy Grzegorzewski at the Studio Theatre in Warsaw and the title role in the Television Theatre spectacle – Platonov by Anton Chekhov, directed by Andrzej Domalik;
- 1994 – Award for his role of Tomasz in a film directed by Kazimierz Kutz at the 19th Polish Film Festival in Gdańsk;
- 1995 – Gold Badge in a poll by TeleRzeczpospolita - Golden Five; Przekrój Golden Laurel; Golden Duck - awarded by monthly magazine "Film";
- 1996 – Activist of Culture;
- 2002 – Orzeł – Polish Film Award – award for best actor in the film Cześć, Tereska by Robert Gliński; Golden Duck - reward by readers of monthly magazine Film for best film role in 2001, with roles in films Cześć, Tereska by Robert Gliński and Stacja by Piotr Wereśniak;
- 2004 – Orzeł – Polish Film Award – award for best male lead role, the role of Jasiek in the film by Andrzej Jakimowski Zmruż oczy;
- 2005 – Golden Cross of Merit;
- 2006 – Award for the leading male role in the film Przybyli ułani directed by Sylwester Chęciński at the 31st Polish Film Festival in Gdynia; award for his role in the presentation TV production Piaskownica by Michał Walczak, directed by Dariusz Gajewski at the 6th Theatre Festival of Polish Radio and Television Theater Dwa teatry in Sopot; Przyjaciel Zaczarowanego Ptaszka Statuette at the Enchanted Song Festival in Kraków;
- 2008 - Award for his role of Robert in a performance entitled Ballada o kluczu by Adam Dobrzycki directed by Waldemar Krzystek at the 8th Theatre Festival of Polish Radio and Television Theater Dwa teatry in Sopot
Author: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, May 2003; translated by Roberto Galea, July 2011; updated: November 2016.