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‘Madness is normal’: An Interview with Danica Curcic

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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.

'There was noth­ing that could stop me.'

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.

Cafeba­bel Berlin cov­ers the 64. Berli­nale Film Fes­ti­val

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