That character is excellently written and I molded him out of the traits of people I met in the turbulent nineties. Crnjanski said that home is where you choose it to be – everything important in my life happened in Belgrade
We’re talking to Tihomir Stanić, a distinguished actor with over 100 roles in theatre, film and television, film producer and professor at the Academy of Arts. His role of inspector Predrag Marjanović in TV series „My Father’s Murderers“ gave the domestic television one of most interesting characters in recent history, it gave Stanić new popularity, while households around Serbia got their favorite charismatic, morally gray policeman.
It’s maybe rude to say that the part was tailored for me, but it sure was in accordance with my expectations. After talking to policemen and their families, businessmen, prosecutors, I can see that the show is thematically socially relevant too. In the first season, it said that it was taking place „not so long ago, in a country of drawers and folders“. That wasn’t unintentional. We were lucky to have the screenwriter and director Predrag Gaga Antonijević back from America, because his energy is similar to the one we had 25 years ago. He gave it back to us professionally. To me, even privately. Thanks to the popularity of the show „The End of the Obrenović Dynasty“, many low-ranking and high-ranking people from both sides of the law and existence insisted on being pals with me. Both high-rank and low-rank. Due to my rich life experience, I sort of knew inspector Marjanović in advance. I built him out of the traits of people I’ve met then. Just before shooting the second season, I wrapped up a show called „Dogs are Barking in the Wind“ where the character and the make-up were different. While the crew was putting make-up on me for inspector Marjanović, on the first day of shooting, I went through my lines and recognized that man in the mirror. I’d left him for a year, and he became real. That has never happened to me before.
What sort of roles attract you?
No rules. I was always led by intuition. That’s the only thing we can’t control, and planning never bears fruit. I accepted this role unconditionally. We didn’t negotiate schedules and fees. I was called for an audition, because Gaga didn’t know me. He told me that he has somehow never watched anything I have done. I told him that I saw everything he has done, but that I didn’t like anything. I didn’t want to do the audition – I did only one, prior to enrolling at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, when I was barely accepted, thanks to Dejan Mijač who had recognized my gift. If I hadn’t applied that year and if Mijač hadn’t been there, we would have talked about atomic physics maybe, since I wanted to study that as well. Ten days later, they called me again about the show and offered me the role, under the condition of losing a few pounds. Every actor is prone to thinking that someone else got the role which was intended for him. I understood long time ago that my roles are only the ones which find their way to me and which I do accomplish. That’s why you shouldn’t hide in places where the role can’t find you. For a while, they were looking for me at the theatres, and I was sitting in theatre bars. They didn’t expect me there, so they didn’t go there. They couldn’t believe that a man so noble, kind and intelligent can ruin his talent. Luckily, I haven’t had a drink in 16-and-a-half years. I drank the amount intended for me on time.
What can you say about the third season?
The show became unpredictable, just like life is. I think that even the authors don’t know in which direction the show will develop anymore. When I’m in good form, I imagine the next day before I go to sleep. Even some events that are borderline miracles. And they happen, more often than not. I think that the characters took things in their own hands. The actors are affecting their destinies through their approach as well. The most accurate thing to say would probably be that we’re all shaping the show together.
You were the artistic director of the National Theatre of Republic of Srpska when you designed a film project of national importance. What is it about?
Technical director of that institution Dragoljub Milić came to Belgrade in 2005 with a calling card which had all the information wrong, apart from my name, under which it read „artistic director“. Every Montenigrin woman’s dream is to have a son who is a director somewhere, my mother is Montenigrin and I accepted to do something for my homeland within two years. I took Petar Kralj, Svetlana Gojković, Đuza Stojiljković, Miša Janketić there… I learned a lot from those people, and they did plays there while working with young actors. Some plays still live on. My friend’s son asked me why there was never a film about Jasenovac. Goran Marković asked me if I would film it, and, for some reason, I said I would. I found a production company and did movies The tour, The Enemy, So Hot was the Cannon, The Counterfeiter… in order to learn the craft and acquire the references. During a meeting with representatives from governments of Serbia and Republic of Srpska, I laid out my plan about the Jasenovac movie. At the expense of great personal doom, which I had survived thanks to working with Zepter company, I kept my word. The money I was promised never came through. I succeded, though. The film will be made next year.
What’s your relationship to Belgrade?
Miloš Crnjanski said that the home is what you choose it to be. Everything important in my life happened in Belgrade, so I can say that I was actually born in it. I don’t know where else I would rather spend my day. I like passing through my village of birth Šeškovci or through Johova, where I grew up, but only on my way from and to Belgrade.
And to Ivo Andrić?
I am Andrić himself. In 2001, I started learning by heart the first four chapters of The Bridge on the Drina, part by part, every day for five months. Professor Ljilja Mrkić Popović helped me. At first, I would recite it as Ivo Andrić, but that hindered my expression. At that time, I couldn’t find any roles of which I wouldn’t be ashamed, so this became an existential and artistic escape. Production business separated me from Andrić, except in some special occasions, but I ’ve been returning to him lately. I recite it with great joy, to anyone who asks me: „Remind me, please, how does it start…“ In a restaurant, or the garden of Zepter hotel, or when in company. His sentences have magical powers. They’re simply true and truthful.
By: Slavko Stefanović