She has blond hair, blue eyes and speaks with a Northern European accent but that hasn't stopped Barbora Bobulova from becoming a fixture in Italian cinema and television.
Barbora Bobulova was born in Slavakia in 1974. She began acting at just 12-years-old. She was discovered in the late 80's by an Italian casting director and has been going back and forth between television and film roles ever since. In 2006, she won the Italian Oscar for her performance in Ferzan Ozpetek’s film, Cuore Sacro (Sacred heart). The film tells the story of a young woman who is a real estate giant and uses ruthless tactics in order to get what she wants. The role called on Bobulova to reach deep within herself and bring out uninhibited, raw emotion.
Her lastest role in Francesco Munzi’s Anime nere has her in the international spotlight once again. This time, she takes on the role of Valeria, a Milanese housewife married to Rocco, whose family business brings her to Calabria where she experiences a whole different world. Bobulova does a tremendous job in her role of this pristine northern woman who genuinely loves her husband and tries to assimilate into his family despite the differences in their cultures. Her performance was heartfelt and her pain, especially in the final scenes of the film was nearly overwhelming. It was an outstanding performance in a truly stunning film. Lucky for us Americans, Anime nere will be released nationwide next week.
I sat down with Bobulova while she was in New York a few years ago promoting Francesco Bruni's, "Easy". The film made its North American premiere at the annual film series, “Open Roads: New Italian Cinema hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. She told me how she got started in the business and what it was like working with one of Italy’s most respected filmmakers, Ferzan Ozpetek.
How did you get your start in acting and go on to become so successful in Italy?
I started when I was a child, when I was 12 years old. I was hired for a television film in Slovakia and that’s how I started to shoot some films. Then when I was 18, I went to the Academy of Theater in Bratislava. While studying, an Italian casting director came over there. She was looking for a Slavic actress for an Italian movie. They chose me, so that’s how I started to work in Italy. Now it’s already been nine years, and I work mostly in Italy.
What was it like working in a foreign country, acting in a foreign language?
In the beginning, they didn’t mind that I didn’t speak Italian. They used me as a foreigner. They used my accent. In television, sometimes they dubbed me. Now, it’s been several years that I’m playing Italians. I’ve been working on my accent with a dialect coach.
How did you come to work with Ozpetek on Cuore Sacro? Did you audition for the part?
He called me. He meant to make this film with another actress, but something happened and suddenly he called me a month before shooting and he wanted me to prepare one scene. He told me that I could just read it, but when I do something, I have to do it completely. So, I memorized the scene, and when he watched me, he was amazed that I knew the whole part by heart. I think that was also something that touched him and after that, he gave me this part.
What was it like to work with him?
It was a very strong experience. It was the most difficult film and professional experience I’ve ever had because the story was very complicated. The character was very complicated. In almost every scene, I was afraid that it was too much, like over-acting and could be pathetic because the themes and topics are very delicate.
Are there any filmmakers in particular that you’d like to work with?
Even if I live and work in Italy, I like the French cinema very much and I feel like the culture is closer to me. So, I feel closer to French actresses like Juliette Binoche.
Do you like the stories that are being told in Italian cinema now?
Yes, Italy has a lot of talented filmmakers. But it’s like a plant. It needs water and sun to live. The actors and writers cannot just act, they cannot just write. They need money. They need many things, or else it is very complicated. We had a government for a long time, who completely ignored culture and the arts. So, it’s been very difficult, but things are already starting to change for the better.
Anime nere (Black Souls) will be released nationwide in America on April 10th.