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Interview with Jan Cina

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Interview with Jan Cina

The role you play has several contradictions and undergoes great development. How does an actor prepare for such a role?
Every shooting day is different. It was a challenge that took me to new, unexplored areas. Both as an actor and as a human being. I asked myself the question of how to prepare long before filming and I don't know if I found the answer. Everyone probably needs something different. I'm the type who often fails to prepare enough, and it was no different in this case. So I objectively prepared myself enough - I tried to search for the memories of witnesses, I read a part of the study dealing with the life of the gay minority in the Czech Republic during the twentieth century and I was on a course with an acting coach from England.

Have you ever struggled with a character that was as complicated as Lanik?
I think not. Although I have already done several characters including drug dealers, autistic persons, and evil men, but the character of the actor was the first.  I feel like the director saw some of my darker side. The character of Lanik was the most complicated for me so far. Especially when it comes to moral contradictions.

Lanik is an actor like you. Did you find any points of contact that you have in common with the character or at least something that impressed you about him?
Apart from the classic things related to theater, there were not many points of contact. Honestly, the principle of a lie resonated most in me. At least, I hope I use it as little as possible in my life, but it's true that thanks to him, I realized when, for example, I hid something.

Can you imagine yourself in the position that your character has? Can you guess how you would behave?
I feel that I would behave differently, better. However, I would like to add that thanks to a closer look at a time that is completely unimaginable and scary to me, I cannot say responsibly that I would have endured all the circumstances to which people were exposed to.  I appreciate way more those who sacrificed themselves or their closest ones.

Did your view on the 1950s in the country change during the preparation and filming of The Informant?
It only deepened and confirmed to me the feeling of injustice, absurdity, and fear that this time was full of. And I think it's still true that Russia, then the Soviet Union, is not a good friend and is a very bad influence. And by Russia, please, I do not mean the beautiful landscape and culture and the normal people but the power elite who disrespect others.

Do you have someone you know, either in your family or among your colleagues, for whom this period was similarly complicated?
It is true that witnesses of that time usually no longer live from artistic circles. My partner and I are in contact with two gentlemen who have spent their entire lives together, and life in the communist era was difficult for them due to their orientation. They had been working in the theater all their lives, they were now about eighty years old, and they had to fight a lot for their relationship. They had to keep it a secret. One spent a few years in prison because of his orientation, and yet it was worth it. They didn't let themselves break. 

How close do you think the series is to the reality of that time?
The events that take place in the Czechoslovak Army Theater are inspired by real events. And some of the characters have their prototypes. When you film an escape across borders for days and nights, you physically feel the risk people were exposed to at the time and what was running through their heads. Or when you realize that an inappropriately chosen word or a self-expressed expression at the time could mean punishment from expulsion to imprisonment and death. Forty years of suffering because of what you think, how you live, and who you are is frightening. We must be very careful that something like this never happens again.

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