Hungarian actress Réka Tenki returns this year to the Berlinale as one of the ten up-and-coming European actors selected as the 2018 Shooting Stars. Last year, she was seen in Competition in Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul, the winner of the Golden Bear and Hungary’s entry as Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. She was also named one of Variety's “10 Europeans to watch” in 2017. Growing up in a “theater family”, Réka Tenki has been at home on the stage since she was young. She studied at the University of Theatre and Film Art in Budapest and is a member of the Örkény Theatre Company in the Hungarian capital. She has worked in Television and Cinema throughout her young career. In 2012, she appeared in István Szabó’s The Door alongside Helen Mirren and Martina Gedeck and can currently be seen in the period murder mystery Budapest Noir by Éva Gárdos.
Sabine Kues caught up with her at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.
You started out very early in the film business. How did you get into acting?
Réka Tenki: I studied at the University of Theatre and Film Art in Budapest and, as we were close to the Film Academy, we had a lot of opportunities to make films with these new directors.
Last year, you were not only in Competition at the Berlinale, but Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul took home the Golden Bear, and is now also nominated for an Oscar. What effect has this success had on your acting career?
R.T.: Every award is one step in my career and I’m very proud of the Golden Bear and the Oscar nomination. I would like for this to be a chance to meet lots of interesting and talented people. And, if it opens up some new possibilities internationally that would be great.
In On Body and Soul you play this tough and smart woman. You are still very young, but you play a slightly older woman. How did you prepare for your role?
R.T.: It is only half me because the hair was not mine and I weighed more back then because I have just had a child. Ildikó Enyedi who directed On Body and Soul had a strong sense of what she wanted from me. I am often cast in dramas to play sensitive characters, but when I get the possibility to play an interesting character that is not necessarily a positive character in the film, that is very interesting to me. The character is not like me and I like that.
Is that what also attracted you to your part in Budapest Noir, which is a film noir taking place in another era?
R.T.: Yes, and I love the ‘30s because women are women and men are men with all the dresses and the make-up and the noir feeling. I saw a lot of films noir with Humphrey Bogart before we started shooting. It was an amazing experience for me to be this woman photographer close to the war in the ‘30s who was very brave to take these war photos. I liked the character for being strange, brave and knowing what she wants.
Besides Film, you can also be seen on stage and TV.
R.T.: Yes, because as an actress in Hungary you don’t have this kind of possibilities in Film. There might be one film a year and therefore my main job is at the theater. I think the Shooting Stars is a good chance to show this passion for Film and that I would like to work more in the film industry.
According to you, are the women in the industry struggling more?
R.T.: I think it depends on where you were born. I believe there are more possibilities for actresses in England or Germany. Hungary is a very small country. But, I think if you are talented you will have a chance.
This interview was conducted in collaboration with Fade to Her.
Name: Sabine Kues
C. Photo Credit: harald fuhr_efp (2018)
Interview with Réka Tenki:
“The character is not like me and I like that”