Konstantin: Welcome to Rumikay Talks podcast. This is a space where I interview professionals from the entertainment industry and discuss popular film-related topics. Our goal is to help and motivate aspiring filmmakers to get their films made. Welcome to episode 18:
Andrea Osvart is a multi-award-winning European actress with nearly 25 years in the industry and over 50 credits starring opposite movie stars. Andrea's mission is to educate actors about long-term success and career longevity. Welcome.
Konstantin: So let's start with Something simple. Where were you born, and where did you spend your childhood?
Andrea: I was born in Hungary, in Budapest, but I grew up in a small village in the countrysid; theree was the so-called “Eastern block” during communism in the ‘80s, where I grew up. I remember many things, like not much were happening, and we didn't have the means to do anything during those years. So I would say there was quite a big scarcity, but my mom would not be happy to hear me say that because she always wanted to ensure we had everything. As a little kid, I aspired to have more as an adult, so I always envisioned myself living in the capital city or moving to a big city and making my dreams come true. So eventually, this is what happened later on.
Konstantin: In terms of the career pursuits in your family, you were the only one who became obsessed with art, acting, modeling or?
Andrea: Yeah. I don't know where it comes from because my parents have normal jobs. My father is a vet, and my mom is a speech therapist for kids. My sister became a journalist, my other sister is an economist, and my younger brothers also have normal jobs. So I am the only one who chose this adventurous lifestyle of becoming an artist and an actress.
Konstantin: It's just a risky path, the arts in general. But I do it because it's just what comes out of me, what I want to express myself, and this is my chosen path.
Andrea: Me too. Ever since I was small, something in me wanted to come out, no matter how. So first, I started as a model, and after, I became an actress. Then I went into producing, but I always pursued this dream of expressing myself and contributing to the world through art.
Konstantin: At what point was there a point in your life when you realized you wanted to pursue acting? You said you started modeling. Were you acting in your head right there, or it entered your life sometime later?
Andrea: I think I was six years old when I first thought of becoming an actress. But then I put that thought aside because, as I said, it was not a realistic dream to become an actress during communism in Hungary. But when I was, when I turned 16, I started modeling. It all just happened that I could make a living out of doing fashion shows and catwalks, photo shoots, and those turned into TV commercials. By doing TV commercials, I realized I like motion-picture better. And then I went to an acting school, and that's when I remembered that, oh my God, this is what I was planning to do when I was a kid. But I wasn't that conscious, obviously, all the way through.
Konstantin: What was the first film set you were in, and you felt like, Oh, I'm an actress now?
Andrea: It was an unbelievable experience. Even today, if I think about it, I got a call on a Thursday night from a casting director as a model. She asked if I was available the next morning, and I wondered what. She then said I should shoot a scene with Brad Pitt. I said, Okay, I'm supposed to go to school, but I guess I can skip. Haha. So it was one of my first professional experiences to be involved in this wonderful movie: Spy game, by the late Tony Scott. It was about 20 years ago already. However, the film is ever-green. I played the niece of Robert Redford in that movie, and I had a scene with Robert Redford and one with Brad Pitt. So that was quite an impressive start, I have to say. They also brought me to London to shoot the second scene; as you can imagine, I was maybe 19 years old, and I could barely speak English. So they took me to London, put me in a limousine, and booked me a five-star hotel. All I had to do was deliver my line in that scene, and then they flew me back to Budapest. So it was a nice start.
Konstantin: That's a nice start. When you were on the set of Spy Game, did you get a chance to talk to Brad Pitt or Robert Redford, or someone else in person who inspired you during that adventure?
Andrea: Yes, I was playing opposite Robert Redford, and although I couldn't speak English very well back then, I remember him telling me about the importance of acting schools. As I said, I was a model then, and he emphasized that my looks were insufficient to pursue an acting career. And this is a craft so complex that one needs to master it properly to have a job and not just one role. So he encouraged me to pursue this profession and attend acting schools.
Konstantin: I'm sure you attended a few different acting schools and spent your time and money. What do you think are the most valuable lessons that you've learned while you were studying acting?
Andrea: I even went to Los Angeles to try workshops there. I remember I took off every summer for a month and went to LA. I tried different acting schools because I was curious about how American actors learn acting and how American actors are other than us. It was such a good experience because, of course, I realized that we are no different. We are just as valid as European actors as American actors. Sometimes there were exercises where I prevailed, and that gave me confidence. For me, this is not just a profession but a devotion: My life to the art of acting and movies.
Konstantin: Apart from your inner drive to express yourself, what do you think motivates you to keep auditioning or keep applying for new roles or keep finding new projects to act in or, right now, produce? What external factor might inspire you to do things, like, do you want to perform with Meryl Streep? Or Something like, Oh, I'd like to work with this director. Is there something like that?
Andrea: When I was younger, I pictured myself playing opposite A-list stars or imagining myself on billboards and running the headlines of industry news. But today, after nearly 25 years in the industry, what inspires me most are good performances by unknown actors. I can discover again and again that even if our industry is so competitive, it's nice to see talented actors on screen getting the recognition they deserve, and that is what inspires me.
Konstantin: I know you speak English, Hungarian, and Italian fluently, plus a little French and German.
Andrea: Right. My German is mid-level. My French is basic, but yes, I've lived in Italy for ten years, and that's where my acting career took off because I used to learn Italian before: I majored in Italian language and literature. So Italian became my second language, and then I perfected my English. So yes, I can be fluent in three languages at least.
Konstantin: Well, that's an achievement in and of itself. I watched your short film: Chuchotage. I think that's the movie where your skills in Italian and Hungarian came together in a beautiful climatic punchline. It's a comedy short film short-listed for the 91st Academy Awards, right?
Andrea: Yes. It's a 15-minute short movie that is very funny. And yes, it was a very big surprise even for us because it's so simple honest that it's not a pretentious little short film that has moved so many people that we got short-listed for the Oscars. So that was a big achievement for us. Yes.
Konstantin: Is there a particular director you worked with that you enjoyed a lot that you'd like to share? And what makes a great director, in your opinion?
Andrea: You know, I think everything starts with your personality. Because there are types of directors people are crazy about, but I am not; I don't like genre movies, for example. So my favorite directors are the ones who direct mainly independent films and thoughtful, deep, meaningful stories, and this is what I can relate the most with and would like to do as well. So my favorite director who I worked with is an Italian director who does a movie every ten years. We already did two, so I told him recently that it is just about time to do the third one because we've known each other for, I don't know how many decades. So yes, he's a very sensitive director, but he's not mainstream and doesn't want to become mainstream.
Konstantin: Well, I assume it's easier to work with a director who, you know, for many years than a director who sees for the first time. Or maybe you have experiences where you saw your director for the first time, and you were amazed, so the connection was flawless with them?
Andrea: Yes. Well, it also depends on the state of mind and your current energy when you find yourself in a project on or on set with new people. It's important to connect with everyone on a human level. I don't care if you're a director, actor, extra, sound engineer, or costume designer. I believe I would like to know you as a person, and we have to connect on a personal level, and that's where we can start to work.
Konstantin: How do you prepare for a role? What is the process? What is the process?
Andrea: It's changed and still evolving. There were times when I was so insecure that I would work on a character for three weeks before shooting and even jump on a train to go to my acting coach to pay her half of my salary just to make sure I broke down the script properly. Then, of course, after nearly 25 years in acting, I realized that sometimes I don't have to hand the power over to someone else over some decisions because sometimes I was instructed by an acting coach or a dialect coach in a certain way, but that was not what the director wanted, so I got a bit confused. So lately, I have much more confidence about what I'm doing, and I don't ask for the permission on how to build a character. I trust the process and myself enough today to do it independently. And I spend a lot of time with the character, you know, thinking about her, and try to imagine her a lot before shooting and just to have some questions about her -what struggles and difficulties she's having - emerge me into her being.
Konstantin: Are there particular moments from sets that you remember, like funny or magical ones that sometimes happen on set? Is there anything that comes to mind that you'd like to share?
Andrea: Yes. It's been 20 years, but I always tell this anecdote about Brad Pitt when we were shooting Spy Game here in Budapest; the scene was very simple. He was supposed to knock on the door. I opened the door and instructed him to go up to the roof. I was very embarrassed. I guess I was 19 years old. Of course, I was stiff and probably couldn't remember my name either. So it was very stressful, and he probably saw that I was stressed. So, even for professional reasons, he wanted to loosen me up. So at one take, instead of thanking me and going up to the roof, he just knocked; I opened the door, I told him, “He is upstairs on the roof,” and instead of going up, he stepped into my room and locked the door behind himself. So he changed the script and the scene because he would rather not go on the roof and just stay with me in the room. So, it was a very funny moment, and all the crew was clapping and whistling and cheering for us, who remained for three seconds together in this separate room.
Konstantin: Yeah. That's something to remember, for sure. Yeah.
Andrea: It just was funny, yes. I'm not sure he remembers, though, but I do.
Konstantin: Well, maybe if I ever have him on this podcast, we can talk about that and ask him. So let's move to failures. Do you have anything in particular, a particular failure, that you'd like to share? Especially the one that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Is there something that comes to your mind? Either from an acting career or just life in general?
Andrea: Yeah, I try not to be so specific because I'm not here to badmouth any of my movies, but of course, I have like 45 credits, so I didn't like them all, of course. I disliked some films in the making because I probably didn't like the people I was working with. So it happened that I had very, very tough times on set: extremely long shooting hours or working with people I didn't respect. And that movie at the end gave me a moment in the US. For example, it was one of my main purposes and objectives to reach as an actress. I had all the press, red carpets, and movies released worldwide, giving me the credibility and recognition I dreamt about. It also gave me an industry reputation as well. So even if I disliked doing it and thought it would not become a nice movie, it eventually helped my career.
Konstantin: Yeah. In terms of acting and acting career. What is the thing about the profession or the craft that you sort of hate the most, and what is the one you love the most about acting?
Andrea: I think it's both because it's such an uncertain business. We never know what's next or what tomorrow will bring. So if I'm asked where I will be next week, I can have some ideas. But, still, I can never be sure because things happen so fast in the entertainment industry that tomorrow, I can get a casting call, and next week I might be on the other side of the world. This is something that I sometimes don't like. The actors’ lifestyle is so particular: we can't live life normally, but at least working in entertainment allows us to travel all over the world, meet exciting people, and create lasting things together. So there are ups and downs, but everything has a cost. It just depends on how much you want to pay for success.
Konstantin: There is an actor or an actress who wants to be in the movies. How do you go from, Oh, I want to act in a new film? Like, I don't even know what it is. I just want to work on a new movie. How do you go from that to having your film shirt listed at the Oscars?
Andrea: 25 years? No, I mean, I think there are no rules. We are taught to follow the rules and regulations in school, but I've discovered that the school of life taught me that I could do things my way, the way I want. I don't know how it is in Russia, but in Hungary, the drama school is quite a closed system, meaning that you cannot apply above 21 because you're too old. And if you are accepted in drama school, you're not allowed to work until you finish it, like for four years. Maybe it's a residual of the communist mentality, but I said, even if I was only 20 years old. No, I, I'm, I don't accept this. I'm going to do it another. I will do it my way, and I will show you and prove to you that it's not the only way this can work, and I can make this work. So I moved to Italy and took acting courses abroad, which didn't take four years, but maybe just a year or a month. I did different ones, and I started to attend castings and signed up with an agent. And this is how I started my career, which was not typical in my country, how to do it. So what I'm trying to say is everybody must feel Something inside themselves, why and what they want to do with themselves in this industry. Why do they think they want to become actors? And if that feeling is strong enough, then there can be no obstacles that can stop you. You just have to find a way around the challenges.
Konstantin: I think the most important thing for actors, especially over the creative people, is how do you deal, like, with all of those things? So the obstacles with failures, like how do you maintain your mental health? Do you have any practices that you do for yourself to like? Manage that.
Andrea: Yes. Yes. And thank you for asking because this is what I've been doing for the past year. As a life coach, I've started to coach actors, performers, and creatives: on how to deal with transition times. In entertainment, like in between two jobs or after a big success, there is a downhill or after a big flop, how do you feel and how do you pull yourself together and, and other, other issues that can affect our mental health. I just don't wanna talk about the MeToo movement. Still, it's just one example and one segment that can damage a person's mental health in the entertainment industry. There are things so powerful that actors take refuge in substance abuse, drugs, alcohol, or even plastic surgery. I think it's a sort of self-destruction. Actors often destroy themselves, or the system obliterates them. I have a method of keeping sane, and I would like to pass it on to actors who need them.
Konstantin: So that's the coaching you have right now, and that's what you're doing?
Andrea: Yes, I'm still actively acting, but in my free time, I'm learning a lot. I've been reading books about performers’ psychology, and I am working on a program for actors and performers because it's such a specific lifestyle, and I've been through it for 25 years. I connected the dots and realized many things; my self-help and coping mechanisms work, which I partly put out in my blog and my ebook, which you can download for free. But I'm also offering this coaching program for performers who need someone on their side to handhold them in difficult times.
Konstantin: So what, what do you emphasize the most? What's in your classes when you work with aspiring actors?
Andrea: My teaching is everything outside of acting; there are schools for that and wonderful teachers for the craft of acting. I'm not teaching acting classes, but I'm teaching consciousness and energetic choices for actors to change their perspectives because it's hard to see from the inside. It's important to have an independent view of strategic thinking and coping mechanisms or to align short-term goals depending on what you want to achieve and where you want to be.
Konstantin: So it sounds to me partially like almost playing a role of a guardian angel for the actors.
Andrea: It is because agents don't do this, don't provide this service; they have other things to do; managers, publicists, have other things to offer. But sometimes you need a person on your side who is not family because they don't know this industry well enough to give you proper advice. You need someone who is not directly interested in you for making money for them but for you to have a long and thriving acting career. So hence, sometimes they push you into things just to make money. Many actors are out of control of their acting careers, and the entertainment business is doing them because they don't know how to control their careers. And this is what I've been trying to teach: Strategic thinking, planning, and preventing actors from mistakes they all make.
Konstantin: Yeah. What advice would you give to someone from Hungary, Russia, Macedonia, or anywhere else? What do they need to do to be in British or American films? Where should they start?
Andrea: You mean a total beginner?
Konstantin: Yeah. Well, at least you have some training already, and now you have established some skills in your own country, so now you want to move on and try another language.
Andrea: I see. I always encourage my actors to move, to relocate for a little bit at least, because once you are in a different environment, you discover so many new sides of yourself. It also happened to me: getting distant from the regular talk from friends or family sets you free. In a completely new environment, you can become anything you want. And let me tell you one thing about acting in a foreign language. It is deliberating. I realized that Italians were so open and grateful for me to try to act in Italian that I could feel that even if I made mistakes or didn't pronounce everything perfectly, they would still love me. But, you know, when you act in your native tongue, you have this pressure to deliver perfectly, a hundred percent. So I think it's much easier sometimes when you speak a foreign language, at least on a conversational level; you should try and find the courage, if you haven't found it yet, to buy that flight ticket and go on an adventure.
Konstantin: Yeah, I agree with you. There is some kind of liberation in that.
Andrea: Yeah, because you've also been through it, right?
Konstantin: Good to know someone else feels the same way.
Andrea: Yeah. I think so. I think back on my career, and I think this was very helpful for me to act abroad.
Konstantin: And in terms of film sets, what do you think are major differences like working on a Hollywood film set versus a European film set in America?
Andrea: I did one super big production, with a 46 million dollars budget, something like that. It was great because I thought, yes, this is what I wanted, but you know, there is this quote, "Watch out what you wish for because it might become true." On that set, everybody was so distant on a human level that I could barely know anyone. Like, you know, I was sitting alone in my dressing room most of the time. It was set in a way to be there one hour before, and everybody was so busy that nobody had the time to have coffee or chat with me. So on the one side, it was a nice experience because there was money. Still, on the other side, European productions are much more family style, where you know each other and have time for each other. Then you can connect on a human level. I think this also has to do with the size of the production because where there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of crew members, it is impossible to feel like you are part of a group you can own. Still, if it's just 50 people, for example, or a hundred people, you can know everyone.
Konstantin: Yeah, I would agree with that. That's the case sometimes. But, especially in Los Angeles. I feel like in New York, people are closer to each other, especially actors; I feel like actors are much freer in New York than in Los Angeles. I mean, for the most part, because sometimes they can even travel together on the subway.
Andrea: Even the structure of the city allows that because, in LA, everybody's in their cars, and the distances are so big that it's very difficult to match schedules, so we get distant from each other. So maybe that was one of the reasons or one of the factors that added up until I decided to move and leave LA and come back to Europe.
Konstantin: Do you have a favorite city where you love to act? I mean, that's a weird question, but if you do, please share. If not, we'll move on to the next question.
Andrea: If you haven't been to Budapest yet, it is the most beautiful city in the world. And I'm not talking politically now, but just the sight of the town is so majestic. Buda and Pest are two different parts of the city divided by the Danube, a huge river. So I think it's just picturesque to be in Budapest. And this is my choice to live in Budapest. I lived in Rome, I lived in la, and now I decided to live in Budapest because, It's, it's a lovely and livable city with nearly 2 million people. So it's big enough to feel like you are in a big city, but it's not that big that you get disconnected from people.
Konstantin: So apart from, you know, career, personal reasons that you decided to stay in, in, in Hungary, what are other, I guess, fun factors or like a factor that, you know, influenced you to stay there? For example, in LA, I always come back to, Oh, well, the weather is amazing, you know, there are millions of other more important reasons, but like, Oh, the weather always keeps me there. But is there Something like that, like maybe food or, or, or particular place? See, architecture, anything?
Andrea: I think my heart mainly also architecture is beautiful, but because we are in Central Europe, it takes me one hour to fly to Berlin, two hours to fly to London, and one hour to Rome. So I'm pretty close to everywhere, and it takes me three hours on the train to go to Vienna. So I'm in the middle, right in the middle, so no excuse. I can just jump on a plane anytime, and I'm close to everywhere. This is another advantage of living in Budapest.
Konstantin: Feature films versus TV shows. What do you think is better as a job? We can focus on acting or producing, whichever you prefer. And what do you think is the future of both for people who are just starting? Should we make more feature films and more TV shows?
Andrea: If I knew..., my instinct is that more television and streaming networks would prevail. In my opinion, feature films won't die, but I know, at least in Europe, that movie theaters have struggled a lot since Covid. Also, recently, we have had this economic crisis. People spend less and less on movie tickets because they have streaming platforms, and it's much more comfortable to watch movies at home. So I wonder if there's going to be a solution to that. Hopefully, yes, because let's be honest, we actors, we all would prefer to be in feature films, I think.
Konstantin: Yeah. So now let me engage a little bit of your creativity, your creative mind. If you don't mind, this is the question I always ask towards the end of the interview. If you were an extra-terrestrial, like an alien from another world, from a perfect world where everything is organized and balanced and gluten-free, so to speak, what would you be? And then you come to us with all its problems and possibilities, but what would be the one thing you would fix? That you would put all of your knowledge and resources into fixing one.
Andrea: From a European point of view, I would fix people, people's minds and encourage them to believe in themselves more than they do because, at my age, I'm 43 now, I meet a lot of people of my generation who don't feel at the right place because they didn't do this or that. So I would change the mentality or the pattern of thinking, the programming of their minds of not daring and not trying things they want.
Konstantin: Yeah, that's something the world needs for sure.
Andrea: Yeah. If I could just change that, I think the word would change. And I want to emphasize that I'm giving out complimentary coaching call sessions online for actors in the entertainment industry. This first transformational call is free of charge, so you have nothing to lose. And I would invite everyone to get on a call with me. I would love to connect and get to know your situation and have my insight on your situation because I think if we connect, we can overcome many issues together.
Konstantin: Andrea, it was a great interview. It was so nice to have you here. You inspire me. While reading about you and watching your films, I was like, Oh my God, I need to write this new film.
Andrea: Thank you for your time. Remember, you can book a free coaching session with me if you have any self-doubts or difficulties you're facing in your career; feel free to reach out, and we can walk it through.