Archive from 'Interviews'
Danica Curcic, a Danish actress with Serbian roots, brings out the best of her two cultures: the Balkan and the Scandinavian. Apart from taking part in several films that come out in the fall, she also plays classical Shakespearean male characters in theatre: Hamlet, King Lear and Othello. She wants it all.
Cafébabel: ‘Danica Curcic, Denmark’. Your Serbian name is representing Denmark in Berlin. Does it influence the way you are perceived in Denmark? Does your split, Serbian-Danish, identity influence your acting?
Danica Curcic: I was born in Belgrade and grew up in a Serbian home in Copenhagen. I was just one year old when we moved. My father got a job at the Yugoslav embassy in Copenhagen. It wasn’t meant to be here forever, but then the situation back home started to deteriorate, the war began and my parents decided to stay in Denmark.
I try to see growing up with two cultures, two different temperaments, with two very different ways of living as a great advantage.
The funny thing is that Danica means Denmark in Latin. It’s a total coincidence. My grandmother was also called Danica. It’s an old-fashioned Serbian name.
But the name as such doesn’t really influence the way people treat me. It’s more the way I look. I don’t look particularly Slavic or particularly Danish. Which is a good thing as it enables me to do both Danish and Slavic roles, but Denmark is a small country and actors from other countries like Turkey, Eastern Europe, or the Balkans do occasionally have problems during casting. Sometimes, I am also told that I am a bit too dark for a typical Danish girlfriend role.
Cafébabel: Was it a conscious decision to become an actress and what was the role of your family in it?
Danica Curcic: My parents have always supported me. Especially my education was very important for them. Danes often have a different mentality. They take a year off and travel. For my parents it has always been essential that I do well in school, have good grades. There was no place to debate that. Probably as a result of it, I started film and media studies at university when I was only 17 years old.
At a later stage, it became very clear to me that I should leave theoretical studies and become an actress. I thought: ‘This is it. This is my calling. I have to do this and I’m gonna make it and it’s gonna be amazing.’ I was so driven when I took the decision! There was nothing that could stop me.
Tell us a bit more about your current projects.
The current one is theater. I am working with three other actresses on a Shakespeare collage at the Royal Danish Theatre. It is the opposite of the theatre’s norms in Shakespeare’s own times, when men played women’s parts as well. I got the parts of Hamlet, King Lear and Othello.
A lot of Shakespearean situations and characters repeat themselves. So our director and the dramaturg of the Royal Danish Theatre created a fascinating collage. Among others, Lady Anne from Richard the Third and Ophelia from Hamlet were combined into one scene. It makes a lot of sense as we’re a dealing with raw emotions as desire, jealousy or hatred in very clean situations. And still, I am very curious as to how it goes. We practically just started. It’s a unique opportunity for a woman actor to play maybe the most classical part of all times, that of Hamlet.
‘The challenge is to make extreme characters as human as possible, to defend them.’
Are there any specific roles that you like playing?
I did this extreme character in The Absent One (2014) – a disturbed woman who has been a fugitive and walked around with her dead baby for ten years. That kind of role allows you to get into the depths of yourself that you wouldn’t normally do. The challenge of extreme characters is to make them as human as possible and to defend them.
Do you think madness is something unnatural or rather that normality is just an accepted form of madness?
It all depends on your point of view. As an actor, one has the advantage to be able to step in and out. You can do almost any character. The most important thing is to find the truth within oneself. Even a mad woman has this truth. The word ‘mad’ has negative connotations, but everything is a reaction to something that happened. Everything is a consequence of something else. In this way, madness is normal.
Do you have any upcoming projects in Serbia? Do you find anything interesting coming from the cinematic scene there?
For now, I don’t have anything planned in Serbia, but the film scene there is very promising. I watched the film Clip (2012) and found it to be very powerful and direct. A portrait of two different generations – the one stuck in nostalgia, the other trying to survive in a country that has been destroyed. I also can’t wait to see Krugovi (eng. Circles, 2013) with Nikola Rakocevic who is also a European Shooting Star this year. I heard it is really great.
Kusturica’s Underground is for me one of the biggest films ever made. I would love to work with him. I haven’t contacted him yet, but I think I should.
That’s me and my mother, Vesna, on my birthday. How beautiful she is on that picture! It was taken in Serbia so it must be just before we came to Denmark. Both my mother and father are from Belgrade, and they moved to Copenhagen because my father got a job at the Yugoslav Embassy. It was not meant to be in Denmark at all. But then the war came and it became difficult for them to travel back so we stayed. I’m still speaking Serbian with my parents – my vocabulary may not be that great, but I speak the language fluently. We went there for summer vacation almost every year since I was born and I came close to the Serbian.
My most beautiful childhood memories are from the summer vacation with my family, which was always held in the same area of Montenegro. I still go there, just not so often. There were lots of children, at least three families gathered. We walked in the water, played cards, cooked food and held parties. Here I am with my beloved grandmother who died when I was eight years old. She is buried in Denmark, even though she didn’t live here. Unfortunately, she died of cancer while she was up to visit us. It all happened very fast. We held the funeral at the Russian church in Bredgade.
Here I am with my father, Mihajlo, on the beach in Montenegro.
We moved to the 2nd floor of a building in Amager, where I went to kindergarten. I couldn’t speak Danish when I started, and my parents didn’t speak Danish during the first years in Denmark, and they didn’t know much about how the Danes lived. But in kindergarten, I met Bell. Her parents welcomed us with open arms and were a great help for my parents. Here we got invited to a real Danish Christmas at home with them. Bell is on the right, I’m on the left, see how great we are in those clothes (laughs)! In the middle it’s my dear little brother, Ogi. He is three years younger than me, and we are still very close. For many years I was sure I would go stay abroad. It became Denmark anyway because I have my roots here and I have my family, which means everything to me.
A skilled pianist – about 1993
Here I’m in the piano with my childhood friend, Bianca with the violin. I started school at the Institut Sankt Joseph in Østerbro, where we also lived a few years before we returned to Amager. There I met Bianca, who is Brazilian. Her mother was my piano teacher, her father was a painter and I would just go home with them. Bianca and I have played together since we were 6-7 years old. Many years after this picture was taken, we started working in the summer as barmaners on cruises. My parents drove a travel company, which owned two riverboats, one in Volga and one on the Danube at that time. We performed in the evening with such classic gypsy ballads. I figured I was going to be a pianist, but then I went to the Sankt Annæ Gymnasium and met up with my music to ‘open stage’. When I heard the first students playing, I thought, that I didn’t, I didn’t, and I didn’t want to. Nor did I have the discipline or the will.
Debut as diva – 2001
This was my first theater role. I played an Italian diva in the Sankt Annæ Gymnasium’s big student show. I’ve dressed up since when I was very young and I’ve always known that I would be an actress. In high school I really began to think about acting, especially on movies. I once tried to be admitted to the theater school, but I didn’t dare to take it seriously until many years later. That’s why I applied for film science at the university. It was probably the closest I dared come to my dream at that time.
The picture was taken at the Burning Man Festival in the desert of Nevada, where I really got my inner hippie out (laughs). I went directly from high school to the university. We don’t take a gap year in Serbia. My mother and dad would support me in every way – it was just in the air that I had to take a higher education. After my bachelor in film and media science, I could feel that I should have my body. My then boyfriend was a real hippie from California. He lived just near a clown school, which I became very fascinated with. I went to that school for a year. It was a very physical theater school, based on comedia dell’arte, and I learned how to make a clown, mask work and melodrama. But I didn’t have to work with the drama and go into depth with words. So I searched and entered the theater school (the Danish National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance) back home in Denmark. I feel that I grew up during the two to three years abroad.
Family celebration in Serbia – about 2008
In Serbia you celebrate a family party. It’s a big celebration, which is traditionally the big party of the year. So everyone is gathered in the whole family, up to grand-grand-cousins and cousins. In Serbian, all family members are just called brothers and sisters, and perhaps a little about what a close family context means. Here is my uncle and I in a loud mood at that year’s family celebration, which we celebrate every year with my Serbian family. Just notice the musician in the background – listening music to big Serbian parties! My dad, Mihajlo, has always been such a real living, full of anecdotes and stories, and he’s really good at getting through.