Calm actor in explosive role

When I called up Errikos Litsis for an interview, the man who held the leading part in Yiannis Economidis’s surprise film, I was politely informed that he was not at home. Apparently, the explosive father figure in the film «Spirtokouto» (Matchbox) had gone to the cinema and could only be reached after 9 p.m. I put the receiver down without assuming the almost obvious. As of two Fridays ago, when the film’s screenings began, Litsis has been going to see it every night. «I go to receive my reward. Some people who recognize me congratulate me,» he confesses with honesty. «None of the actors expected any financial reward from this film, just some moral recognition,» he adds, realizing that his actions could be misinterpreted. «Viewers are impressed by my calmness and by how different I am from Dimitris, my character in the film. They are aware of the work we all put into it, especially Yiannis, the director. I like to compare Economidis to Iakovou, the coach of the national weightlifting team. All of us actors had to lift about 500 kilos each and he was the one encouraging us to keep lifting them. A coach is very important!» Litsis’s first meeting with Economidis also sounds like a scene from a film. Litsis just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time: He was stopping by a casting agency to leave his CV for another film and the woman at the desk informed him that another director, also looking for actors, was in the next room. The director was Yiannis Economidis and the two of them decided to work together. «It was just to be a small part in a movie that was never eventually made.» Nevertheless, rehearsals took place and the initial acquaintance developed into friendship. Economidis saw in the – at the time – unknown actor, the leading character for his first full-length film. Until then, professional acting was a rare occurrence in Litsis’s life, as he was earning a living as a DJ. In the 1980s, he took part in amateur theater productions and he later took up acting lessons. In «Spirtokouto,» the 48-year-old Litsis plays Dimitris, a petit bourgeois family man who reaches breaking point when his small fragile world collapses along with all the things he considers important: his business, an orderly family life and his wife’s faithfulness, which he had thus far taken for granted. «I have seen many people like that around me. I know couples who have fought because there was not enough salt in the food and friends who have almost knifed each other over football. It may seem ridiculous to somebody who is uninvolved, but for those who are actually experiencing such a situation, it is dramatic. The characters in the film experience the same thing.» Having worked on the film for six months, Litsis has compassion for people who just drown without any obvious reason. «Dimitris loves his wife, but he has lost all communication with her. This is the film’s plot: The children have lost their parents and vice versa. But Dimitris doesn’t know it.» Shortly before the end of the interview, Litsis asks a favor. «It will be good for the public to know that the film contains a lot of humor and that going to see it does not mean spending two hours just watching troublesome situations.» And he is right in making that point. Concerning his future plans, Litsis says that after the «Spirtokouto» experience he would like to do something of equivalent value. «Otherwise, I will feel that I’m betraying those few people who came to see me in this film. If I had not taken part in this film, I could probably appear in a television series that is not so demanding. I can’t do that now.»

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