‘Rebels don’t commit suicide’

It’s difficult to imagine actor Giorgos Dialegmenos as a public prosecutor given his well-known, absolutist views. Then again, because these same views so often resemble accusations, perhaps it’s not that hard to envisage. Interviewed here by Kathimerini, Dialegmenos himself admitted that he would never have pictured himself acting such a part, since he makes no distinction between prosecutors and cops. Yet he accepted the part of public prosecutor in Takis Papayiannidis’s film «November’s Secret» (To Mystiko tou Noemvri), based on the novel by Mimis Androulakis, which has been on at the cinemas as of last Friday. In the film, the public prosecutor, one of the so-called Polytechneio generation, is incorruptible; indeed, he is so much against all forms of corruption that he ends up taking the law into his own hands, which in turn leads him onto dangerous roads. Various personal traumas and conflicts also contribute to his downfall. Had this part been acted by any other actor, none of these details would be of much importance. Dialegmenos, however, rarely decides to undertake a role in the theater, let alone in the cinema, although he started his career as an actor and still remains one. It is not the fact that he is a well-established playwright that renders him so selective, but his very firm views about current affairs, which often cause conflicts with his «work environment.» Thus he usually prefers to focus on the writing of a new play, which is what he is doing these days: His new play is set at the beginning of the 20th century, but that is all he is willing to reveal at this point. What made you participate in this film? I usually try to avoid cinema productions when somebody gives me a script to read through, because I’m not fond of filmmaking. There are only two leading characters in a film, the director himself and the director of photography. Everything else is technical: where you will stand, where you will look, on which line you will stop, where they will place you and nothing beyond that; it’s like being chained. That’s why my usual response to any director’s proposal is «Don’t bother me,» and I just suggest an actor who can play the role. That is what I told Papayiannidis too, although I liked the script because there were things in it that I sometimes think about. But then it was tempting, because I saw the part as a theatrical interpretation seen through a cinematic lens. I don’t like playing myself, either in the theater or in the cinema, and that role was so different from what I am, it was a challenge. So I ended up accepting it. I also wanted to try to act parts that foreign actors such as Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman have done in the United States: to interpret and not just to act a role that seems so different from me. I’m the kind of person who is all over the place, while my character is rigid, abrupt and straightforward; all his conflicts take place in his inner soul and don’t include any physical gestures. That is how most public prosecutors are. So are there no similarities between you and your character in the film? There are no similarities on the surface. I worked on that part as I would have done with any other theatrical part, namely through movement, voice and internal restraint. I have my own firm views about the way that the prosecutor sees justice and how he renders it. Of course, I wouldn’t commit suicide in the end and I would not even attempt to do so, which he does. I would go on until the end. I strongly disagreed with the director about the ending, and we finally reached an agreement, something between suicide and assassination. But I insist: Rebels don’t commit suicide. In other respects, could you have acted as he did? If things led me to that point, I might have, but not as a prosecutor because I consider prosecutors and cops to be one and the same thing, at least as far as their mentality is concerned. This is the way I see them; I don’t believe in the people who do this for a living. I’ve had first-hand experience of both because of 60 lawsuits that a neighbor filed against me in Votanikos. I know them only too well, they go through 150 trials in just four hours – talk about a decline in values.