C. Photo Credit: harald fuhr_efp (2018)
Interview with Irakli Kvirikadze:
“I am very proud to be part of this New Wave”
Name: Sabine Kues
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Irakli Kvirikadze studied acting at the Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Film State University. He first hit the screen in 2014 with his part in one episode of the omnibus Tbilisi, mon amour. Wanting to continue his studies, he moved to New York City to take acting classes at the famed Stella Adler Studio. While in New York, he met director Rezo Gigineishvili who offered him the lead role in his award-winning film Hostages for which he received further attention. The film premiered at the 67th Berlinale in the Panorama section and has since been screened world wide. After shooting the film in Georgia, Kvirikadze relocated to Los Angeles, where he currently lives and continues his training. He gets his inspiration from everything, mostly by absorbing people and himself. He loves watching his six-year old sister who gives him a great deal of truthful emotions, something that inspires him a lot. Children are, according to him, a great source of inspiration.
As part of the 2018 Shooting Stars, Sabine Kues caught up with Kvirikadze at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.
Hostages was screened last year here at the Berlinale and has been received very well. How has that effected your career as an actor?
Irakli Kvirikadze: The film was a huge success and was shown all around the world and opened doors for me. A lot of things have changed. I have gained more self-confidence, took myself more seriously and worked very hard to succeed. Since last year’s premiere, I moved to Los Angeles where I currently live and I’m working on my accent and pursuing my acting career.
Why did you choose the United States?
I.K.: The reason why I moved to the U.S. is because I have a Green Card and I’m a permanent resident of the United States now. First, I wanted to give it a try and then I stayed there because it is kind of challenging. I would love to work as an international actor – everywhere where there is an interesting offer. I would like to be in the American industry. That is why I am working on my American accent to widen my opportunities in order to not be type cast.
Is there a specific director you would like to work with?
I.K.: There is a huge list. Especially Americans. Quentin Tarantino is definitely one of my favorite directors and Pulp Fiction is my favorite film. I would love to work with him.
How did you initially catch the attention to be cast in your first film?
I.K.: The first time, I was shot in Tbilisi, I Love You, which is a franchise of New York, I Love You and Paris, I Love You. I had the opportunity to be in the same film as with Malcom McDowell who is a great actor and has worked with Kubrick in A Clockwork Orange. The film is divided in small novels and I was in one of them and whose director I knew very well. That was the first part I got.
How did you get involved with your second film, Hostages?
I.K.: I was sitting in a restaurant in Georgia and all of a sudden Rezo Gigineishvili, the director and his scriptwriter sat down right next to my table. I know the scriptwriter and after fifteen minutes they invited me over and told me about this film they were making. Rezo thought I am the character he is kind of looking for and he wanted to cast me. Hostages is based on true events and I knew the story. The story is very popular and very famous in Georgia. It is kind of every young Georgian guy’s dream to play my character, Niko.
It is from an era that you personally didn’t experience. How did you prepare for the part?
I.K.: It happened in 1983, so it was a few years before I was born. But, for Georgian people it was kind of a big deal and I had an opportunity to meet Niko’s friends and his parents who were surprisingly supportive. It was a huge responsibility to portray this character because I knew I would be compared to him.
Especially when the relatives were involved, I assume.
I.K.: Yes, my character’s father did not want to be involved in this film because it was too painful for him. The mom, surprisingly, was supportive and she told be how he danced and was giving me compliments that I look like him and move like him. It was a very big thing for me.
How was it received in Georgia?
I.K.: Well, Georgian people are very critical. As the story was very famous and they lived through it, they had different expectations. A lot of people remember the character I portray. There is an issue whether they were terrorists or heroes. The opinion is divided.
How do you perceive the development of Georgian Cinema?
I.K.: Every year at the Berlinale, there are at least four Georgian films. That is very good. There is a new wave. Ten years ago, the Georgian film industry was dead because of different political situations that were taking place in Georgia. But now, because of some great people that were taking care of the movie industry, it is coming back to life again. I am very proud to be part of this New Wave.
Will you continue making movies possibly in the USA and Georgia?
I.K.: Everywhere. As long as the script and the characters interest me, I would love to work in Georgia, Europe, the Unites States…
What is your next project going to be?
I.K.: I have an upcoming project, but it is super confidential for now. So, I cannot really talk about it yet. Hopefully, it is going to happen in spring in New York.