Marcin Czarnik is a theatre and film actor. He was born in 1976 in Oświęcim.
Aktor teatralny i filmowy. Urodził się w 1976 roku w Oświęcimiu.
In 2000 Czarnik graduated from the Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw. In the same year he had his stage debut in Teatr Montownia, playing Podsrocki in Trans-Atlantyk, an adaptation of Witold Gombrowicz’s famous novel directed by Waldemar Śmigasiewicz. However, he moved on with his career elsewhere: between 2002 and 2004 he was a member of Polski Theatre in Wrocław, then he shortly worked at Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk before returning to Polski Theatre in 2006.
Czarnik is known mostly for performing in Jan Klata’s works. As he said in an interview conducted by Joanna Derkaczew:
I’d say I need to understand – or even identify myself with – the character quite strongly not to be ashamed of going on stage. Me and Klata sometimes build this understanding in ways that may not be so obvious. […] I wouldn’t like to ‘teach myself how to perform’. […] I have no tricks, yet I always need to have reasons to go on stage and speak as my character.
Czarnik has co-operated with Klata numerous times. He played Lafcadio in André Gide’s The Vatican Cellars (2004, the Wrocław Contemporary Theatre), Hamlet in H. based on Shakespeare (2004, Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk), Jan in Fanta$ty, a contemporary version of Juliusz Słowacki’s drama (2005, Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk), and Bonus in Weź, Przestań (2006, Rozmaitości Theatre in Warsaw). He has also performed in many pieces Klata staged in the Polski Theatre in Wrocław: Czarnik played Robespierre in The Danton Case by Stanisława Przybyszewska (2008), 99 Cents in the burlesque-like Szajba by Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk (2009), Bum Bum in the adaptation of Władysław Reymont’s Promised Land (2009), and Kasimir in Kasimir und Karoline by Ödön von Horváth (2010).
Among these, the role of the French revolutionary in the grotesque interpretation of Stanisława Przybyszewska’s drama brought Czarnik recognition and awards. Łukasz Drewniak wrote:
‘True creation!’, one could excitedly say about Marcin Czarnik’s role, and then go fight some oligarch with him. […] What does his Robespierre want? Velocity, transformation, infallibility. He knows that fear stimulates thinking. The actor proves that the monster of revolution is not someone rotten to the bone. Even when he becomes merely a guillotined head lying on a French table, he still ponders upon freedom, pragmatism, progress.
Czarnik also appeared in performances by other directors from his generation, including Monika Pęcikiewicz – he played Demetrius in Titus Andronicus (2006, Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk) and Lysander in Midsummer Night’s Dream (2010, Polski Theatre in Wrocław). He co-operated with Monika Strzępka, who staged Paweł Demirski’s dramatic texts in the Polski Theatre in Wrocław – he played Konrad in Dziady: Ekshumacja (editor’s translation: Forefathers’ Eve: Exhumation) and the Financier in Śmierć Podatnika (The Taxpayer’s Death). He also appeared on the stage of Polski Theatre in Wrocław as Man in Wiktor Rubin’s The Elementary Particles based on Michel Houellebcq and as Dima in Samsara Disco directed by Agnieszka Olsten, based on Anton Czekov’s Ivanov and Wiktor Pelevin’s The Life of Insects.
Czarnik showed an interesting interpretation of Verkhovensky in Dostoyevsky’s Demons directed by Krzysztof Garbaczewski (2010). He also performed in Poczekalnia.0 (Waiting Room.0) directed and written by Krystian Lupa – a piece based largely on the actors’ improvisations. Czarnik had worked with Lupa before – he played in Asylum based on Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths. In 2012 he played the therapist in Hans, Dora i Wilk (Hans, Dora and the Wolf) directed by Michał Borczuch. He also played the titular role in Philoctetes directed by Barbara Wysocka. Thanks to this performance, Czarnik became a laureate of the 33rd edition of Warszawskie Spotkania Teatralne festival.
In 2013 he joined the team of the Stary Theatre in Kraków. Among other roles, Marcin Czarnik played Felix Dzerzhinsky in Bitwa Warszawska 1920 (The Battle of Warsaw, 1920). He also appeared in the controversial Do Damaszku (To Damascus) directed by Jan Klata. Czarnik played the Idol – a musician and performer going through a crisis. As Witold Mrozek wrote for Gazeta Wyborcza:
An eccentric show-off wearing sunglasses is similar to Zbyszek Cybulski in Konwicki’s Somersault. It is the same story – an artist that is a false messiah with an affinity towards pretentious gestures, endlessly on the run. What is he running away from, though? The banality of everyday life and the responsibility for loved ones, but most importantly – the expectations imposed upon him by society. Czarnik ironically plays with the types of a star, a rebel, a poet, but does not lose his own charisma in the process.
Czarnik also played the titular role in Gyubal Wahazar based on Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, directed by Paweł Świątek, and gave an excellence performance in Nie-boska Komedia: Wszystko Powiem Bogu! (The Undivine Comedy: I will tell God Everything) directed by Monika Strzępka. Czarnik frequently co-operates with Strzępka: he also appeared in Triumf Woli and K.
In December 2017 Czarnik joined the team of TR Warszawa. He appeared in Inni ludzie (Other People) directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna, based on Dorota Masłowska. He also appeared in Jan Klata’s Debt (based on the academic book Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber). The performance was shown in Nowy Proxima Theatre in Kraków (premiere: September 2019), two years later than was originally planned. Klata and the actors started working on the piece back in 2017, but in the meantime Klata ceased to be the director of Stary Theatre. In a gesture of solidarity, many actors, including Czarnik, stopped working at the theatre.
In December 2018 Czarnik directed What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – the diploma of acting students of the AST National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków.
Czarnik is predominantly a theatre actor, but he has also created remarkable roles on the silver screen. He played the main role in It Looks Pretty From A Distance directed by Wilhelm Sasnal, one of Poland’s most famous contemporary painters, and Anna Sasnal. In 2015 he appeared in a supporting role in the Hungarian production The Son of Saul directed by László Nemes – a film that took the Oscars and the Cannes festival by storm. He also played the supporting role in Tomasz Wasilewski’s United States of Love.
Czarnik’s co-operation with Nemes went so well that the Hungarian director decided to cast the Polish actor in his subsequent full feature, the film Sunset. Czarnik played Sándor, the brother of the main character. Interestingly enough, at first Czarnik was supposed to speak Hungarian in the film. As he disclosed in an interview for the Polish edition of Vogue:
At first I was just trying to parrot the language. I wouldn’t even know what the verb in each sentence was[…] My good ear for music helped a lot. With time I started to use the language more consciously. However, I’m still unable to have a normal conversation in the language, so I can’t really improvise in it. László claims I sound like a 19th-century Hungarian!
Eventually, Czarnik’s character’s voice was dubbed. In an interview for Co Jest Grane 24 the actor said:
When I was preparing for the role – which, well, might seem absurd after you’ve watched the film! – I read over 5,000 pages about the history of Hungary. Precisely speaking, I strongly recommend two books – 'Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat' by Paul Lendvai and 'Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture' by John Lukacs.
The actor also starred in Wojciech Smarzowski’s The Clergy, Kinga Dębska’s Zabawa, zabawa, Plan B, Agnieszka Holland’s Mr. Jones, Michał Rosa’s Piłsudski, and Jacek Bromski’s Solid Gold.
Originally written in Polish by Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, Dec 2011, translated and updated by NS Nov 2019.