Photo: Sandra Vitaljić

ZRINKA CVITEŠIĆ

CROATIAN ACTRESS, STAR OF LONDON THEATRE

“I feel that I can do anything now, that there isn’t a project I couldn’t tackle.”

Despite being a star on both British and Croatian stages, Zrinka Cvitešić – and this can be seen in the passionate way she talks about it – actually looks forward to ordinary things; the time spent in her olive grove in Donji Humac on the island of Brač and working on land are high on her list of priorities. That buying an olive grove wasn’t just a passing fancy is confirmed by the fact that the oil she makes from her olives has been receiving professional awards in recent years. When she gets tired of London and the stage, she comes to Brač. Which is relatively often. She still loves the job she has chosen as she did at the beginning of her career. A lot more mature and experienced today, she speaks about the theatre and film from the position of a person who has, with a lot of skill and experience in acting, managed to also nurture an almost childlike joy that she has found in acting since the very beginning.

Last autumn, she had a role in the play Two Ladies at the Bridge Theatre, a major drama theatre in London, where she shared the stage with the famous British actress, Zoë Wanamaker. Cvitešić played an American first lady, who, in this case, wasn’t Slovenian, but Croatian. Wanamaker, on the other hand, portrayed the wife of a French president. Two women bond while waiting for their husbands, who are participating at a global crisis summit.

Cvitešić took the West End by storm six years ago, with the play Once. For the role she played in that musical, she later received the Olivier award for a newcomer of the year, in the company of such stars as Helen Mirren and Daniel Radcliffe. Since then everything she’s done has been met with success.

What was it like to act alongside Zoë Wanamaker, to share the stage on an equal footing with an actress who is one of the greatest in the English theatre?

When I got the script and was told who was playing the other leading role, my first reaction was: “Well, perhaps I’d rather not because… I can’t do it!” First of all, I’m a great perfectionist. It’s part of my personality. When I start a new project, the first thing I always feel is insecurity, as if I were at the beginning of my career. Secondly, I was terrified because I hadn’t had such a major challenge as Two Ladies in my whole career: working with Nicholas Hytner, one of the five leading theatre directors in London, and Zoë Wanamaker, one of the greatest actors in the English theatre, who comes from a family that is crème de la crème of the English society. Her father recreated Shakespeare’s Globe in London; Laurence Olivier also belonged to that family. In the play, I’m on the stage from beginning to end, just like her. I was petrified. However, by doing this job both in Croatia and abroad, I have come to a conclusion that the greatest artists are often the least complicated people. They are always the ones to help you the most and you can learn a great deal from them.

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