From light to darkness

Nikos Sergianopoulos may or may not have had the intellectual brilliance of a writer like Costas Tachtsis or the grandeur of the great Italian visionary Pier Paolo Pasolini, but he shared certain habits with them and, unfortunately, a similar death – violent murder. He was killed in his home, like Tachtsis, possibly by someone he knew and had let in. He was found with multiple stab wounds, like Pasolini, whose body was discovered on a beach in Ostia on November 2, 1975, mutilated by the ragazzi di vita, the children of life that he so admired, the violent children of a violent life in violent suburbs. Like Tachtsis and Pasolini, Sergianopoulos, a dramatic figure, chased his demons, was chased by them and was eventually crushed. Alcohol, drugs, encounters with strangers, public ridicule and confessions on daytime television – the very same programs that sang his praises as an actor and dragged him through the mud when he was arrested for drug possession and usage. The 56-year-old actor never tried to lie or play to public sympathies. He didn’t hide what he was, or what he faced. He was disarmingly frank about his life, unarmed and unprotected on a glittering stage that feeds on hypocrisy and flesh. He acted in the limelight and lived on the fringes like a haunted hero in a Tennessee Williams play or a brutally realistic character in a Pasolini film. And he suffered a violent death in this dark place. What his death reminds us of is how unclear, how unexpected, the passage from light to dark can be. As Dominique Fernandez wrote of Pasolini, so Sergianopoulos presented himself before the angel with all the horror of a filthy corpse, yet the glow in the pupils of his eyes remained unchanged. He had placed his life in the hands of those who were the most unworthy of receiving it.