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The principal of the theatre Na Jezerce talks about travelling to see his family in Australia, theatre and politics...

Fast confession - Jan Hrušínský: I was Strict as a Dad, as Grandfather I Spoil my Grandchildren

Tereza Janatová
14.Feb 2018
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8 minutes to read

Actor Jan Hrušínský in an interview with Luxury Prague Life talked about how he splits his grandfatherly duties among his grandchildren Karlička and Viktor who live in Australia and grandson Vojta, who lives close by. He also shared with us photos from his private album, confiding what would attract him in a foreign country and also the truth about his plans to emigrate. However, he has not forgotten about his theatre and the new plays on which work is being done slowly but surely, and, inter alia, what it looks like when he doesn´t click with the actors. 

You are a grandfather three times round. One grandchild is here and two are in Australia. How do you divide your grandfatherly care between grandchildren, who are on the opposite side of the globe?

It really is very far. So the joy is all the greater when you see them after a long time. We have now had a heaped measure of it. Moreover, the older grandson, Viktor, who is two and a half years old, began to be sensationally communicative so we immediately became great mates. When we were coming from Australia I looked at a YouTube page with my films and it begun to load up Car Tom, Car Patrol and other children's fairy tales, which we watched with Viktor, having had great laughs and fun. Míla was more engaged with Karlička. She is only nine-months old; I will wait until she becomes a more grown-up girl. 

Prodej exkluzivního bytu, Praha 1 - Nové Město
Prodej exkluzivního bytu, Praha 1 - Nové Město, Praha 1

Little girls are also cuddlier with their grandfathers.

They are great. I know because we have two daughters. Well and here in the Czech Republic we have a grandson Vojta who is now a half-year old. Always, when he smiles at you it is such a reward and it lights up the whole room, but I am sure you know that yourself, too.

This is true, I do know. The children are still small, are you able to make some programme for them?

With Viktor we drove around in a car, we had all sorts of ice cream and treats he doesn´t get that often as his mother watches out that he gets a healthy diet. So I spoiled his diet a little - as a grandfather I can afford it. As a father I would maybe think twice about it. (laughter) That tolerance within those limits, where one starts to consider things, like where are the boundaries, that you can beautifully overstep as a grandpa.

So, as a father you´ve been much stricter.

Yes, I think so. We have brought up our children well and I think that they also have a great attitude to their own. It works on very friendly basis, but at the same time they will not allow them to do anything they want. It is not ´liberal´ upbringing, where that child then comes somewhere and annoys everyone else.


Luxusní vila na prodej, Praha-západ - 370m
Luxusní vila na prodej, Praha-západ - 370m, Okolí Prahy

How do they like living in Australia?

Australia is terribly friendly and accommodating. When I compare any park in the vicinity of Perth with Czech parks, I have the feeling that I am in the most beautiful botanical garden in the world because everything is perfectly maintained there, to accommodate people, there are places to make a barbecue everywhere, ping-pong tables and bats, here they wouldn´t have probably lasted even ten minutes, because someone would steal them. For example there is a café in such a park, where there are mobile libraries and you can take a book, there are chess tables, and fantastic playgrounds outside. When you come to a beach or wherever you don´t pay for parking. I asked Nikola: "Come on, you don´t pay for parking?" And he said: "No, after all, we pay taxes." These are things that politicians in Europe should consider. 

So I assume that they are not planning to return to the Czech Republic...

Unfortunately, no. But the holidays will come up and they will be here throughout the summer. I am terribly looking forward to that, when we have all the three children together. We don´t get a chance to be with them all that often, only from time to time. Now we have been there after two years. Perhaps if we did not have the theatre, it could be done. Firstly, it is quite an expensive journey and secondly very tiring. Well and when you go as far as that, you wish to stay there for longer, but because of the theatre we cannot. 

Given the age of the grandchildren, is it going to be for the first time that your son will fly them over from Australia?

No, no, little Viktor has already been here. Karlička will fly for the first time, so we will see. We hope that she will not make the journey too unpleasant for the other people on the plane. (laughter)

When you're so far apart how do you communicate? Skype?

Skype and Facetime. We have found out that both with Nikola and Ivana, as well as with the little ones we talk much more intensively than if they lived directly above us, because like this you really find the time. At least once a week we meet up like this on Facetime or Skype and talk about what is new, what has happened... With Kristýna who lives here just above us, we do not do that for maybe even three weeks.

And Kristýna is back, acting?

Kristýna is from a theatre family so she knew that she should give birth in summer (laughter) and that she should give birth so as to be able to act again by the end of September. So she did a last performance in June with quite a big belly and by the end of September she was on stage again.

I am really interested now, in your opinion as her father and at the same time her boss who pushed her out of the post of a principal of the Na Jezerce theatre onto the stage. (laughter)

My dad was born after the performance on stage..

His mother had finished that performance, didn´t she?

Of course. She wouldn´t cancel a performance because of childbirth! (laughter) So this is nothing new for us.

You have such a discipline in your family!

I had a speech prepared for the wedding. When Kristýna and Matějgot married, I made a condition that she must give birth in the summer. Of course it was but an exaggeration and by chance it worked. We got the beautiful news in America. Matěj was there at the birth and we were told that Vojtík came to this world terribly quickly. 

Now we are doing an interview with you here in the theatre, you are back from Australia, so hurray back to work! You have been gone for 15 days... Are you behindhand with anything?

Our experience is that during the first half of January people do not really go to a theatre a lot. But Christmas and December is sold out. In December, we had around forty performances including tours. 

Don´ tell me about it. I wanted to order tickets - there was absolutely no chance!

Well that´s great, do write that in there (laughter), I like to hear that. Our theatre was sold out until the end of February even before Christmas. Last year Milan Kňažko received the Thalia Prize for the theatre Na Jezerce for the play Shylock and yesterday we learned that Ondřej Kavan is among the ten nominee actors for his role of Hitler in the play He Is Here Again. So I am very pleased indeed. Now the March pre-sale is just starting. 

What novelties are you planning?

We will now be preparing two comedies. In the middle of March Honza Hřebejk will start to practise a play She Is Fascinating, which is about the worst operatic singer in the world, to be played by Jitka Sedláčková. I will play with her, as well as Mirka Pleštilová, Libuška Švormová and Václav Tobrman. And then there will be a debut of director Petr Vacek who will direct Saturnin. The première is to be on 30th May. In the autumn we will do one play for the fiftieth anniversary of the August occupation, which is a subject which in Bohemia hasn´t for some reason been addressed very much. The play is being written by scriptwriter Jan Drbohlav, incidentally author of the screenplay Habermann´s Mill. And in December there should be a première of Jaroslav Dušek, who will play a few main characters including female ones!

Jaroslava Kretschmerová is to appear in Saturnin. So far I haven´t seen her in any play in your theatre…

Jaruška will be here for the first time. She will play aunt Kateřina, alternating with Jitka Sedláčková. Pavel Nový will play the grandfather.

He has not played here either.

Neither he did. It is also a première. I am looking forward to it very much. We are trying to make the people feel good and for them to know that the plays are to be on for a long time here. We have had plays that were on 200 or even 300 times. I hope that the actors, who will come to us now will stay with us as long as possible, too.

According to what do you exactly make your opinion, your bet, so to speak, about an actor? From acquaintance, because you know that that person is okay and a good actor or is it enough just to notice actor´s talent and that´s it?

We are looking for all the aspects that you mentioned. It must be a great actor who is well suited for the character in the play and of course it is super when it is a good person too, that he is easy going and there will be no conflicts. Some performances are played for fourteen, fifteen years and those actors are here all the time so I long for people with whom we will get on not only in professional terms, but personal, too.

What does it look like when you don´t get on with someone professionally?

I am rather disappointed that I´ve been mistaken. I accept it as my fault, but it doesn´t happen very often.

You take it as your own fault?

In most cases. I don´t like conflicts. With them, you couldn´t run a theatre for so long anyway. 

How many people have left because you didn´t get on?

During those fifteen years there were about four cases. About 130 people work here, so it is not that much.

You also comment a lot on the political situation.

I comment on politics because not only am I an actor, but also as a citizen of the Czech Republic who has lived here from birth; I pay taxes here and I have the same right to comment on anything just like any other man. I do not like that our country is heading in a little different direction than the one set out after 1989, I do not like the fact that in many aspects we are losing certain parts of our freedom. Someone asked why I was not heard sooner. To that I say that sometime in the 1990's some politicians begun to steal, but they only stole money. Now they steal money too, but they steal freedom too and I consider that to be much more dangerous and worse. When they forbid you to talk, travel or you see that there are again tendencies to fence off the republic with barbed wire, close borders under the pretext of preventing someone else coming here, I am strongly against it and I wish very much for these trends to stop.

How are you satisfied with the elections?

I am disappointed it was only a few votes. The lead was as close as could be. Rather, I regret that this is a loss of further years, when the Republic could have gone in a completely different direction. It could again gain confidence. Notice that the newly-elected President was congratulated by the main representative of Russia and China and of course by the extremely polite President Kiska from Slovakia. Otherwise no one. Nor even his favourite Donald Trump. This in itself is very worrying. Not that I would go and hang myself because of it, but...

Emigration and so on? Nothing like that? (laughter)

But hold on! Even some stupid Parliamentary Papers magazine wrote that I have e-mailed Mrs Kornová that we need to emigrate! But I don´t know Mrs Kateřina Kornová at all. I have never met her, nor did I e-mail her.

And what did Mrs Kornová respond I wonder, since we are on the subject. (laughter)

I also wonder. She has never written to me. What a shame. (laughter)

Last question. What would you wish to happen in your life within a one-year horizon?

I would like to be healthy and the same for the people in my circle; I´d like it if there were gradually more honest people in the Czech Republic with good intentions with our country.

Fast confession:

The name of your first love?


Who would you like to be in the next life?

An actor.

Do you frequent other theatres than your own?

I do. Gladly.

What Hollywood role was made for you?

I do not know.

Your favourite play of the Theatre Na Jezerce?

He Is Here Again! (Er ist wieder da!)

What can you not live without?

Perhaps without air, water, bread...

What would you have liked to become if you were not an actor?

Anything I would be good at.

If you could choose anyone, whom would you elect as President?

An intelligent, decent democrat.

How do you cope with criticism?

Quite well, I got used to it.

Who is your best friend?

I have several.

Do you believe in God?

Very partially.

What are you most afraid of?

Now you have taken me by surprise. I feel that I have ceased to be afraid. I am not afraid any more.

What you like about Miluška the most?


Which world language would you like to be able to speak?

Really good English.
The interviewee asks the Editor:

When will you come again?

I will try to as soon as possible. I will look at the programme and come.
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