James Bond Nederland

Interview: Andreas Wisniewski, Necros Uit “The Living Daylights”

Eén van de door filmcritici beter bevonden Bond films, The Living Daylights, viert in 2017 haar 30-jarige jubileum. James Bond Nederland vond het daarom niet meer dan logisch om er een special aan te wijden. De gehele maand september hebben we de film van top tot teen doorgelicht, van leuke wist je datjes over Dalton’s eerste vertolking als geheim agent 007 tot aan alle leuke details over de rol van Jeroen Krabbé, een Nederlandse acteur met een fantastische staat van dienst.

Maar we hebben nog een interview te goed, waarmee we de The Living Daylights special écht kunnen afsluiten. En dat is een interview met niet zomaar een acteur. In de film speelde hij de rechterhand van Generaal Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé). De grote, blonde, afgetrainde KGB-agent, Necros. Gert Waterink sprak met de Duitse acteur die Necros speelde; Andreas Wisniewski. In een ongedwongen setting kwam z’n hele loopbaan aan bod, van zijn eerste werkzaamheden als danser tot aan zijn huidige, meer serieuze bezigheden als Zen-Boeddhist.

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS: Andreas Wisniewski, Bill Weston, 1987, (c) United Artists

JamesBondNL: I just returned from another spy film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and it features a hilarious set of cameo’s from Sir Elton John. You actually made your debut as a cameo in perhaps one of Elton’s most famous videoclips, Nikita. How did that happen?
Andreas Wisniewski: “A distinguished looking man at a West End party started talking to me and a few minutes later he offered me a part in “a music video”. The man turned out to be the great Ken Russell [regisseur “Women In Love”, 1969] and the videoclip for Elton John’s “Nikita”.”

JamesBondNL: The song is actually about a female border control guard stationed in East-Berlin. You were actually born in Berlin. Do you recall something of the Cold War tensions between East- and West-Berlin?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Sure I do. I used to live in Spandau near a military practise ground. I recall the sound of bombs exploding in the middle of the night. That was quite scary, until we became aware that it was an exercise. The everyday practicalities between East and West in Berlin were banal, though. Humans dealing with humans. The Cold War was clearly made by politicians, not the people.”

JamesBondNL: It was in Germany where you started your career as a classical dancer in the Bayerische Staatsoper, yet you didn’t further pursue a life as a ballet dancer. Could you elaborate on that?
Andreas Wisniewski: “At 25 I was already too old, too decrepit, and fed up. I am kidding haha. Well, a bit. Mainly, though, by that time I had my first experiences of acting on stage as well as in a (student) film. There was no turning back, I had tasted the ‘blood’ of acting.”

JamesBondNL: So British director Ken Russell basically discovered you. Then you went to London to appear in his horror film Gothic. How was that experience for you, including moving all the way from Germany to London?
Andreas Wisniewski: “I moved to the United States first. But I went broke quite quickly. So I returned to London where I had studied ballet. It was easy. I owned two suitcases full of stuff. I packed them. And left.”

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS: Andreas Wisniewski, Timothy Dalton, 1987, (c) United Artists

JamesBondNL: The late Sir Roger Moore once said “During my early acting years I was told that to succeed you needed personality, talent and luck in equal measure…….I contest that. For me it’s been 99% luck”. Isn’t that a bit of a sad fact of working in film? Knowing that so many potential actors in the end are not able to get that big dream job?
Andreas Wisniewski: “One can see it that way. But in Zen there is a saying “Better to wear shoes than cover the whole Earth in leather”. In other words oughtn’t I to find a way for myself to deal with it since ‘changing the industry” does not seem a viable option?”

JamesBondNL: So regarding that ‘luck’ then, how did you eventually got the part of Necros in The Living Daylights? Where there more contenders for that role?
Andreas Wisniewski: “That was 100% luck yes. The character description of Necros was a description of me.”

“In Zen there is a saying: “Better to wear shoes than cover the whole Earth in leather”. In other words….oughtn’t I find a way for myself to deal with it since “changing the industry” does not seem a viable option?”

JamesBondNL: How did the introduction happened between you and the rest of the cast from The Living Daylights? More specifically, how was your relationship on set with Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbé?
Andreas Wisniewski: “I remember having a few good conversations with Jeroen. He was painting while we were in Morocco, and we sat in his trailer and chatted.”

JamesBondNL: And while on set, did your work as a ballet dancer gave you a head start during fight rehearsals with stuntman Bill Weston?
Andreas Wisniewski: “On some level, yes. What ballet does well is developing the kinesthetic senses, and so the increased awareness of one’s body is a good platform upon which one can mimick all kinds of things. But there are also mannerisms that dancers tend to have that look unnatural and that one needs to get rid of as best as possible.”

JamesBondNL: Earlier we were talking about political tensions between East- and West Berlin during the Cold War. Today cyber terrorism seems to do a lot of damage to the world (think about Skyfall). Do you think the James Bond films, since The Living Daylights, have changed a bit from a geopolitical perspective?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Yes and no. There is still always the Bondian Ubervillain. And who would want to lose him?”

JamesBondNL: Did you and your family (your kids) see any of the more recent Bond films? And what do you think of them in comparison to The Living Daylights?
Andreas Wisniewski: “We all like the more realistic angle that the 007 movies tend to take us nowadays. Daniel Craig is also my favourite Bond. That works better for me……if I can believe that the man is homicidal….”

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS: Andreas Wisniewski, John Glen, Timothy Dalton, 1987, (c) United Artists

JamesBondNL: Was your role in a Bond film helpful for your next feature film?
Andreas Wisniewski: “To be honest? No.”

JamesBondNL: Do you think there’s a difference between working on a British/European production and an American production after you worked on Die Hard?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Both of these were super-professional productions. In addition to that the Bond set was incredibly relaxed.”

JamesBondNL: You actually continued working on spy/action franchises, like the Mission: Impossible-franchise. But doesn’t it make you afraid of being typecasted as a bad guy? Or should certain actors be happy for the fact that typecasting brings in jobs?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Afraid of being typecasted at my age? I’d be quite happy to play another twenty villains. If those were offered…. Worrying about that sort of stuff is for young people.”

JamesBondNL: Regarding Mission: Impossible 1 and Mission: Impossible 4 – Ghost Protocol, how did you get the roles? And did you actually play the same character in both of them?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Yes, the same character was the idea. By the time we shot Mission IV I had practically no hair. They gave me the wig to identify the character. For Mission IV I was contacted on Facebook! Three days later I was in Dubai.”

JamesBondNL: In the first Mission: Impossible film you are Vanessa Redgrave’s sidekick. How was it working with a British Oscar-winning actress like Vaness Redgrave?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Vanessa was great. I didn’t have many scenes with her, mainly because I didn’t have many scenes. But we talked on the set. About social issues if I remember correctly. I have also worked with Joely and Natasha, Vanessa’s daughters, and once had breakfast with her ex-husband Tony Richardson. Kind of a curious tidbit that I know four of the dynasty.”

“Afraid at being typecasted at my age? I’d be quite happy to play another twenty villains. If those were offered…. Worrying about that sort of stuff is for young people.”

JamesBondNL: And how does that compare to working with the actual leading actor, Tom Cruise?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Well, let me comment on Mission IV. I had half a day of shooting on the film. One scene with Tom to be precise. He remembered me. It had been his idea to bring me in to tie the movie to the earlier one. He was very nice to me. We talked about kids and sports and moviemaking.”

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: Vanessa Redgrave, Andreas Wisniewski, 1996, (c) Paramount Pictures

JamesBondNL: Both Timothy Dalton and Tom Cruise played a recurring character in a popular spy franchise. Do you see a difference between the two actors on how they approach their roles? And if we bring current actor Daniel Craig into this comparison?
Andreas Wisniewski: “It seems that way to me but if you really want to know you have to ask them…”

JamesBondNL: After working on a lot of films, you have accumulated a pretty extensive filmography. Are you still in touch with some of the actors you worked with?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Not many at all. After a film shoot the “family” ‘ explodes’, and you tend to run into each other on some other projects down the line.”

JamesBondNL: The Broccoli-family is known for treating its cast and crew as a giant family. If that is the case, and if you are still in touch with some actors, have you ever tried to organize a reunion? And would some actors be open for it?
Andreas Wisniewski: “I am not really in touch with them. Would they be open to a reunion? Don’t they do this all the time?”

JamesBondNL: Haha, I should perhaps ask them in detail Andreas. On to your acting, which is your main profession off course. Did it also become a facilitator for writing screenplays. Could you tell us something about that?
Andreas Wisniewski: “I have shelved dramatic writing. For now. I will dig it up again if and when I will have finished my current projects: a Zen movie and a documentary about a musician (he says hopefully).”

JamesBondNL: What advice would you give Bond fans if they have a great story idea for a Bond film and would like to pitch it?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Be realistic!”

“Vanessa [Redgrave] was great. I didn’t have many scenes with her, mainly because I didn’t have many scenes. But we talked on the set. About social issues if I remember correctly.”

JamesBondNL: Something very different from your acting work is your affiliation with Zen Buddhism. How did that exactly happen?
Andreas Wisniewski: “I had……a personal tragedy and I needed answers.”

JamesBondNL: Is Zen Buddhism a way for you to temporarily disconnect from the cinematic world? Or would you prefer to focus on Zen Buddhism fulltime by giving up on acting and other aspects of filmmaking?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Zen to me is a way to ENGAGE rather than to disconnect. Although I don’t live in a monastery, I am ordained, and to me that means that my whole life is Zen practise, wherever I am. So I can be an actor or a director and there isn’t even the slightest friction with Zen.”

Andreas Wisniewski

JamesBondNL: Throughout several decades in your life you have been travelling the world quite a lot. What complications does that bring for you? And from a family perspective?
Andreas Wisniewski: “It’s been fine for my family. I have been sharing raising my gang (of three boys) with my ex-partner, so I have been free to be away half the time. As for personal relationships it’s a bit trickier. I am now an expert on long-distance relationships.”

JamesBondNL: Is there a possibility for some editors within the JBNL-team to get a Zen Buddhism clinic? What would you advise us if we like to get into Zen Buddhism?
Andreas Wisniewski: “Best idea I have heard in a while. Get in touch with ZenRiver in Uithuizen. This is ‘my’ monastery. There is a great Zen master there, Tenkei Roshi, and some unbelievably helpful people. Do it! You won’t regret it.”

JamesBondNL: One last question Andreas. What is your ultimate favorite film that we should watch to get new creative inspiration, for either writing or any other aspect of filmmaking?
Andreas Wisniewski: “My all-time favourite is 2001: A Space Odyssey. Visionary. Beautiful. Mysterious. Ahead of its time.”

JamesBondNL: Thank you a lot for this extensive, in-depth interview. We hope to see you soon at a future film event, or perhaps even the upcoming premiere of James Bond 25 in November 2019.
Andreas Wisniewski: “My pleasure Gert.”

Gert Waterink

Gert Waterink

Gert werd al op vroege leeftijd geprikkeld door het intense schatergelach van zijn vader bij het zien van een James Bond film. Rond z’n 10e zag hij zijn eerste Bond-film op TV, “You Only Live Twice”. Toen nog uitgezonden bij de AVRO op Nederland 1. De rage was begonnen. Zijn favoriete film is “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, maar in het Daniel Craig tijdperk weet hij niet welke film nou beter is: “Casino Royale” of “Skyfall”. Gert woont en werkt nu in Barcelona, heeft als andere grote passie (film)muziek en verzamelt veel boeken over films…en James Bond.

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