| 105 er of the theatre andmy own strength on stage, becausemyprofessorsof lifewere inthe theatre. Like Ognjenka Milićević, in whose class I graduated. My generation viewed the National Theatre as a conservative can. The JDP andAtelje 212 brought the spirit of the new age. PARTISAN SONGS AGAINST STAGE FRIGHT MyfatherwasMontenegrinandmotherwas fromValjevo. My father was condemned by the Informbiro despite having been, like my mother, an anti-fascist ghter inWorldWar II. My parents met as revolutionaries in the Partisan unit for the liberation of Belgrade, where I was born. Back thentheyweresomethingthatwe now call ‘young rockers’. They desiredsomenewworld.Asaboy,my mother tookme to recite partisan songs at ceremonies in local communitiesinValjevo,whereIgrewup. Inmyrecitationofthesepoemsshe wantedtoshowloyaltytotheparty andthestate.That’showI freedmyself of stage fright at an early age. However, stage fright isbornof an increasedsenseof responsibility; it isahealthysensewhenmeasured. DIDWE DISGRACE OURSELVES? Theatrepremieres are always unjust, due to theincreasedchargeoffeelingsof insecurity.Then anactordoesn’tfeelthesatisfactionofconquering the audience, like a precious dropof water in his hand. Theatre director Slobodan Unkovski used to say that preparing a play was like a big plane that’s taken o . And you never knowwhere and how it will land. One doesn’t need to be a hundred per cent self-con dent in work; it is necessary tobe reservedtowardseverything.Only later does an actor feel that they’ve conquered the craft. It even happens tome today after the premiereof aplay I consider that I’veperformedmy worst role to date. It’s hard for me to leave the dressing room and I always ask my colleagues: Did we disgrace ourselves? WHEN AN ACTOR’S SHIRT ISTOOTIGHT TherearescenesonTVand in lmwherewe act fragmented, separated by changes in lenses and technological needs. There are no introductions,noplot,nounravelling...Formostactors,myself included, their soul ismostly intheatre.There aregreatworld lmactors,butmostofthemstartedon the theatrestage. All rolesoutside the theatreare liketight shirts thatanactorwants totear inorder toregaintheir freedomonthoseboards. It is on them boards that pleasure is at its greatest. Actors arecapableof feelingmore joyon the stage than the audience ever notices. My theatrical birth came with the play Spawning Carp at ZvezdaraTheatre, backwhenthat theatrical address rstopened. I inscribedmyactingstatusat JDPuntilmy retirement.Atonepoint I was also the JDP’s acting director. POPULARITYWITH AN EMPTY PLATE My popularity began at the same time as my most di cult existential situation in themid 1970s. I played the character Tihi in the TV series Otpisani [Written-o ], which hadhugeviewing guresbecausetherewas onlyonenationalTVchannel. I couldn’t feed myself,becauseIspentmyroyalties from the series. The role of Tihi simply happened to me; I didn’t have a great selection roles to choose at the time. Prior to the start of lming, Icouldn’tevenhavedreamt howmuchtheaudiencewould fall in lovewith it. After lming Iwashelpedoutbymyfriend’s mother,asshepreparedmeals for me, and I slept in an attic on Hadži Milentijeva Street. I didn’t feedmyself with popularity, although I receivedover 200 letters a day from the audience, some of which I even opened. I believed that was a win for acting. When I was introduced to one bard of acting as a young actor, he said –Who is this? Never heard of him! He wanted to bring me back down to earth.Thatroledidn’tgivemewings,butrather closed all doors to new roles for me for a while. And in the theatres I also suddenly found they didn’t propose new roles for me after the success of Tihi. MIRKO,WATCHOUT FORTHE BULLET Shooting26episodesof thatseries lastedabout 3.5 years, under theproductionof Radio-Television Belgrade. And that meant extremelyhighqualitywork, superbtechnical aspectsonstage,pyrotechnics, shooting conditions, great music. RTB is a solid team ofprofessionals.Thatstoryportrayedthevictoryof youthandgoodagainstevil. Itwasn’t ideologically tainted. One line from the series:“Mirko,watchout for thebullet”,was repeated in mockery among the nation. But the fact is that theWritten-o were like local cowboys and Indians, inwhich themost positive characters win. GAGA AND I The twoof uswere likea single soul, no rivalryeverexisted.Wewerecompletelydifferent people who genuinely loved and respectedoneanother.TowardstheendofGagi’s life,30yearsafter the lmingof theseries, I learnedhowmuchhe’dpraisedmewhen I was anovice, arguingovermewhen someoneattackedme, defendingmeas talented and someone who would be a great actor and not an acting “beauty”. I know his human virtues; I would never allow a word to be spoken against him. Dragan didn’t have the misfortune of the role of Prle in Written-o making it di cult for him to secure new engagements, on the contrary – they scrambled for him. We also performed together in the play Posetilac [Visitor] at Atelje 212, where he played the psychoanalyst Freud who comes to meet God, who I was interpreting. I jokedthat theygaveGagi that role, asaprettyFreud,becauseonly I’mGod. I’LL ACT AS LONG AS SOMEONE WANTS METO When Iwas aboyof ten I fell froma tree andmyspleensplit.Mylovedonesfearedthat Iwouldn’t survive.Thedoctor comfortedmy mother by telling her that there were cases of some people surviving without a spleen for over 30 years. So I believed that I would reach the limit ofmy lifeandworkat theage ofaround40.AndI’vesofarbeenblessedwith almostdoublethat. I’llactaslongassomeone needs me to. Due to nine months of shootingaroleinaTVseries, I turneddownaround ten theatre roles irrevocably. I’msorry about that. Perhaps someday I won’t be in a position tochoose. I’vealways advocated for the idea that an actor should choose what they perform.Actorsarealwaysonthewindswept actingmarket.Destinyplays itspart intheselection of roles and who becomes an actor. No one is to blame for what someone was meant to act. Or not... MARRIAGE AS A PRIVILEGE MeandMilicaMihajlović,mywifeandactress, talktogether likecolleaguesonthejob. Sometimeswedon’tdiscussallthedetails.We arevery strict andprecisewitheachother in ourwork.Lweattendeachother’spremieres. Milica“pullsmeup”when I doubtmywork. I sparehermycriticismlessthanshedoesme. It is a privilege to have such a relationship. Our sonRelja (16) isn’t interestedinacting. I believe that’shisgood fortune. He’s focusedonrock‘n’roll. Isometimesconsultwith himregardingsomerole.Hehasgoodtaste. Hedoesn’tindulgeme.AlongwithRelja,both my son Vukota and daughter Iskra always had theburdenof attendingmypremieres. Relja is at the age when he spends a lot of time on a computer. I don’t know if he’d go to the theatre if it wasn’t part of his life. I’m notastrict father.Thequestion I havenoanswer to is what I learned frommy children. I haven’t had and don’t have enough time formychildren.Mygranddaughter issomething wonderful inmy life. The theatre has been the site of the greatest acting freedom since time immemorial U sva vremena teatar je bio mesto najveće glumačke slobode