Whoosh! Issue 33 - June 1999

AN INTERVIEW WITH MARTON CSOKAS
Exclusive to Whoosh!
By Bret Ryan Rudnick
Content © 1999 by author
Edition © 1999 by Whoosh!
1853 words



Marton Csokas as himself.




Author's Note: Marton Csokas is a skilled actor. His bio contains two full pages of accomplishments to date. I mention only a fraction of them here. His film credits include: Broken English (Gregor Nicholas, 1996), Twilight of the Gods (Stewart Martin, 1995 - a short), Game with no Rules (Scott Reynolds, 1994 - a short which starred Danielle Cormack and Jennifer Ward-Lealand), Casual Sex , and The Minute . He's no stranger to television either and has appeared in Xena, Hercules, and Shortland Street (his appearances: 1994-96), to name a few. His theatre appearances also reveal his versatility, and you may have seen him in Closer, The Herbal Bed, Julius Caesar, Arcadia, Frontmen (which he wrote) The Cherry Orchard, The Merry Wives Of Windsor, Who'S Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, and As You Like It, again to name but a few.

He's a capable writer as well as an extremely talented actor, is co-founder of Stronghold Theatre, and won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for the cast of Closer, Production of the Year in 1998.

He's at home with humourous roles as well as serious ones, but in every role, he brings an intensity that never fails to impress.

Whoosh! readers will recognize him primarily as Xena's paramour and fellow warrior Borias, but he's also been cast as Khrafstar and has been seen in Hercules as Tarlus in PROMISES (H31/218).

I was fortunate enough to spend a little time with him in Auckland March 9, 1999, and as he graciously took some time out of a very hectic schedule, we chatted for a bit in a chic Auckland cafe.




Being an Actor (01-05)
Being Borias (06-16)
PAST IMPERFECT (17-21)
Closer (22-27)
The Future (28-29)
Biography



An Interview With Marton Csokas


As the chick eyes his bic, Marton suddenly felt uneasy...


Marton Csokas, in a scene from the motion picture, Broken English.


Being An Actor

BRET RYAN RUDNICK:
[1] How did you begin your acting career? Have you always been an actor?

MARTON CSOKAS:
[2] No. I went to a school which was not particularly encouraging of the arts in terms of a career. In hindsight, that was good, in case I failed in this career. It wasn't until I was 18 or 19 and traveling that the idea of acting really appeared. I was in London, looking around at various exhibitions and theatres, and that appealed enormously. I ended up at one point in a secondhand bookstore and saw a book on theatre and the art of theatre, and that was very attractive.

[3] I ended up after that going to University for a year at Canterbury and Christchurch in New Zealand. I studied generically in a number of different subjects: literature, art history. I was involved in a writer's club and theatre, which I had done a little bit of in school previously. One thing led to another, and I eventually graduated from New Zealand Drama School.

[4] Somewhere along the line I decided I wanted to be an actor, though I didn't start that way professionally. I worked in cafes and so forth to get along. The very first acting job I had was one where we put everything on ourselves. We did the sets, the publicity, posters, everything. That was interesting.

[5] I was a Presenter for awhile. I co-founded a Theatre Company, and we put on some plays. I did some television series. That's the good thing about New Zealand, actually, the experience that you can gain gets you ready for the next thing you do. Once you get one kind of work, you tend to keep getting that kind of work. I've done some work in Australia lately, as well as doing some films in the United States. I did Broken English (Gregor Nicholas, 1996), for example, a couple of years ago.



Being Borias

'Side lighting' was in his contract


Marton Csokas as Borias in THE DEBT.


RUDNICK:
[6] I think your first experience with Pacific Renaissance was in a Hercules role, is that right?

CSOKAS:
[7] Yes. I didn't have a huge desire to do the program after seeing the first script I auditioned for, but I didn't get that role. I auditioned again for another role, didn't get it. I auditioned about six times and along the way I thought, "I have to change my approach to this". But someone saw me in Arcadia, which is a play I did with the Auckland Theatre Company, and I got in that way as Khrafstar [THE DELIVERER (50/304)]. I think I got Borias as a result of my work in Broken English.

And you, sir, are no Iolaus


Marton Csokas as Khrafstar in THE DELIVERER.


[8] R.J. Stewart wrote the script for my first appearance, and that was to take place in Mongolia or thereabouts. I was trying to do a combination Russian/Chinese kind of accent, which didn't quite work out. He was at a wardrobe fitting and mentioned that the character was based on Attila the Hun, and should be sort of Hungarian. Well, that's no problem for me to do a Hungarian accent, but it turned out a little more generic than that. I liked the character.

RUDNICK:
[9] Are you from Hungary?

CSOKAS:
[10] No. My father is Hungarian and my mother is from New Zealand. I was born in New Zealand.

RUDNICK:
[11] So you could draw on family experience as a Borias influence?

CSOKAS:
[12] To a certain extent, yes. And then when we started shooting, we were on location with the horses, it was beautiful. I loved it.

RUDNICK:
[13] Did you go to the South Island for that?

CSOKAS:
[14] No, it was farther north on the North Island, but it looked a lot like the South Island.

RUDNICK:
[15] After Borias first appeared in THE DEBT (52,53/306,307), a lot of people took notice of that character. Prior to Borias, Xena was the winner in any conflict, but with Borias it seemed much more equal.

CSOKAS:
[16] In some ways I think that's true. I think Borias ended up being more a lover than a fighter. I came back as Khrafstar to do all of one line in THE BITTER SUITE (58/312), and then went away on location to do ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69,70/401,402) as Borias again.



PAST IMPERFECT

C'mon..you, me...a platter of oysters...whatdya say?


Borias and Xena in PAST IMPERFECT.


RUDNICK:
[17] I had a number of people comment how much they enjoyed your performance in PAST IMPERFECT (77/409). The counterpoint of Xena's son's birth and Borias' death was much talked about.

CSOKAS:
[18] I liked the story. Garth Maxwell directed that and did a fine job. The crew were very professional and created a great atmosphere to work in. Garth Maxwell just kept pushing us to get the best performances. There were really no boundaries or limits.

RUDNICK:
[19] Do you have any particular moments that stand out for you in these appearances?

CSOKAS:
[20] There was a fight scene with Dagnine and Borias. We kept on going backwards and forwards out of sequence. So I had to keep changing makeup, taking off blood and such and putting it back on. It was very quick and I loved it. It seems like so long ago we did that, almost a year. I really enjoyed working with all those people.

[21] Whenever I work I try to get as much out of it as I can, then leave it behind, because if you don't, you become emotionally attached to it. People appreciate your work for different reasons. If they come away with anything, that's great. Someone else will always want to comment in a negative fashion. But the best thing for me to do is get what I can out it and move on.



Closer

RUDNICK:
[22] When you're doing a play now, like Closer, it must take a lot of energy to do a show every night and twice on Saturday.

CSOKAS:
[23] It can be very exhausting, but it's also quite rewarding, psychologically and emotionally. I like plays such as Closer that explore relationships. I like the thought and care that goes into theatrical productions. When you rehearse something for five weeks, you have a strong foundation to build on, and you can use your experiences to improve your performance. Even as the play is performed, things change. What was perfect two weeks ago seems redundant, and yet at the time, it was the best thing to do.

RUDNICK:
[24] Do you find your performance in Closer has evolved much since you've started performing it?

CSOKAS:
[25] Yes. There are so many different ways to say things like, "I love you", and the audience reactions can be very, very different every night. Last night was an interesting night. The audience seemed much more sedate, and so we got more intense over time. It was an unusual energy.

RUDNICK:
[26] It was interesting to contrast audience reactions to that play, which is quite a modern play, to those I saw last year in the same theatre during a production of The Herbal Bed, which I believe you were also in.

CSOKAS:
[27] I did that with the Melbourne Theatre Company. That was an interesting play too. The danger in a play like that is using too much of a modern psychology in performance. People would react differently to the relationships in a play like that and the relationships in a play like Closer. The whole dynamic of guilt and interaction is different.



The Future

RUDNICK:
[28] Do you have any plans when Closer is finished with its run?

CSOKAS:
[29] I'm going to Sydney. I have an audition for Lord Of The Rings. I may possibly do a feature at the end of this year, and I may do a feature the beginning of next year. The immediate future? I don't know. I may do some more work in Australia. We shall see what we shall see for the future. That's one thing I like about being an actor, you become self-reliant. There are things you learn along the way, in and out of work, that are invaluable.

Borias practices his lamaze posture


Borias pondering kidnapping Xena so they can raise their child together. .




Biography

Bret Rudnick Bret Rudnick
Whoosh! Staff
IAXS Executive Committee
"You can never have too much money or too many Amazons"
When he's not working for a big Science/Engineering company that (amongst other things) designs, builds, launches, and operates exploratory spacecraft, Bret writes fantasy novels and short stories. Bret is a man of many skills, having also previously been an Olympic-qualified archer, a drummer in the Butch Grinder Band, a news reader for Public Television Station KVCR, and a Deputy Sheriff for the County of San Bernardino, California. He also collects Japanese swords, armor, and art. He and his dog hunt down stray Bacchae in New England.
Favorite episode: HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110), WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP (30/206), and THE QUEST (37/213)
Least favorite episode: IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)
Favorite line: Xena: "What's this?" Gabrielle: "I'm... an amazon princess?" Xena (rolls eyes): "Great." HOOVES AND HARLOTS, 10/110; Xena after being goosed by Joxer: "Are you suicidal?" WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP, 30/206; Joxer: "Ha. Ha." A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222); Autolycus: "I'm not just leering at scantily clad women, you know, I'm working!" THE QUEST (37/213)
First episode seen: CRADLE OF HOPE (04/104)
Least favorite episode: IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)

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