Having a normal life

Karel Bucek a Jarmila Vodičková
Having a normal life Karel Bucek a Jarmila Vodičková Back

We talked to Faye Dunaway on her last day of shooting in Czechoslovakia

There was a piece of news at the beginning of this year which interested not only film fans but also the journalists. Fay Dunaway – Oscar winning actress (The Network) is filming in Mariánské Lázně. Similarly to the recent visit of the popular group Depeche Mode this star was not too eager to meet with the press either. She agreed to it only on the very last day of filming, which took place in the Antonin Dvorak Museum in Prague. 

What brought her to Czechoslovakia was filming the movie Burning Secrets in English-American-West German co-production. The movie is based on a short story by Stefan Zweige of the same name. Commission department of the Barrandov Studios cooperates on the filming as well. The director of the movie, an Englishman Andrew Birkin, who also worked on a movie which is known to our audiences The Name of the Rose and whose debut this film is, asked the Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, an English actor Ian Richardson and the child star from Canada David Eberts to be part of the film. Zweig’s novella tells an intimate story of three people from the beginning of our century. The wife of the American ambassador in Vienna is leaving with her twelve-year-old son, who suffers from asthma, to go to a spa. There her relationship with an Austrian baron starts. The son is aware of his mother’s growing feelings for the baron and he is jealous.

Our audience know Faye Dunaway from many movies, e.g. Bonnie and Clyde, Oklahoma Crude, The Three Musketeers (with Michael York), Chinatown, The Day of the Locust, Three Days of the Condor, or from a TV mini-series showing on our television at the moment Christopher Columbus in the role of the queen.

We had very limited time for our questions – only between the takes. Because we had prepared many questions our speed interview lasted ten minutes longer than originally planned.

– You arrived in Marianské Lázně in January, did you like celebrating your birthday in Czechoslovakia?

Yes, it was wonderful. The local crew prepared a cake, they brought me lots of flowers and other presents, I was touched how nice everybody was.

This is your first time filming in a socialistic country. How was your cooperation with the Czechoslovak team?

There is nothing to complain about the entire team is amazing. As far as communicating is concerned I think that everybody speaks English here and they try really hard to make our work be problem free.

– What is the guarantee of quality work for you – the director or the script?

The script, of course. And a good director is just a bonus. A bad director cannot improve too much and a good director won’t turn a bad script into something great. The material is always very important and for the actors somebody like Fellini, who can be trusted.

– You have filmed with American and European directors. Do you notice the difference between American and European film cinematography?

It is difficult to notice any difference in the directing style. For example, Miloš Forman and Sydney Pollack are both very strong directorial presence. Real film makers are real personalities. Of course, there is a difference between S.Pollack and Andrew Birkin, who is younger and this is his directorial debut. Maybe there is one difference in the fact that European directors are better and dive deeper into the characters and into their hearts. I think it is based on cultural and national traditions of the specific country and the self-sufficiency on interesting life standards and finally, also how they get money for their work. So, there are differences in those respective areas. But all in all, I do not think there are many differences between American and European or western and eastern directors, if their working conditions are comparable. This is typical for every other area of human activity when different personalities are in play.

– Your work lies mostly in film and television. Do you ever miss the theater?

My last time in the theater was last year in London and that was an exception. The theater mustn’t take over your life, you mustn’t give in to it. So, I do not have any theater related plans at the moment.

– What do you think about different approaches to film and television work?

I think films are much better, because the process is not that quick. You can spend more time on the whole source material. Television production is much faster and that doesn’t satisfy me so much.

– Have you had a chance to watch any Czech movies?

I have seen many but I can’t remember their names.

– Would you agree to working with Czechoslovak directors?

I would, unfortunately I do not know that many. I have seen the movie Daisies from .. yes, Mrs.Chytilová. That was a powerful film, I would like to work with her.

– What do you think of fashion trends?

Honestly, I am not that interested in fashion, which probably does not correspond to a popular idea film fans would have about me. I prefer practical and no-frills fashion. And that is all there is for me.

– When do you feel happy?

When I am with my son Liam. I am happy in my private life which provides different satisfaction than my professional performances.

– How do you accommodate to being a film star and a mother?

I have to be very careful and separate these two worlds. It took me long time to figure it out. Now was the first time that I have been away from my son for such a long time but he did come and visit me for two weeks. I don’t like being away from him for more than four weeks. But on the other hand, I do not want to disturb his daily routine too much. He is at school and all seems to be all right. Our time away is the only problem but it is not without a solution.

– What is the best way to relax for you?

Being with my son and my husband. Watching movies, listening to music in the company of my friends, reading a book – in other words having a relatively normal quiet life.

– What will remember about Czechoslovakia when you leave?

All the nice people. Everybody was extremely nice and friendly and so – generous.