Irma Vitovska-Vantsa
by Olha Skorokhod
Short profile

Ukrainian theater and film actress, producer, public figure; has been working at the Young Theater (since 1998). Honored Artist of Ukraine.

From the latest news about Irma Vitovska  –  your post, in which you expressed your thanks for the next nomination for the "Golden Dzyga" Film Award, but hinted that it is worth giving to other actresses.

Every year the prize should be awarded honestly. The last two "Dzyga", I think,  were awarded deservedly. To play a role like Baba Prisya, and even under the condition of restricting the expression of emotions through specific makeup, is a jackpot for the actress. And last year's role of Galia in My Thoughts Are Silent was perhaps my best role at the time.

I am grateful for the nomination this year as well, but I have seen the works of other actresses, Yulia Matrosova and Oksana Voronina. So, it turns out that they are competitors, and I admit that they are much better. These are higher levels and deeper possibilities of characters to sound. In terms of the subtlety of the acting, psychological transformation, and delicate switching of the characters, their works are wonderful.. So it would be weird if I won this year. I think it would be unpleasant not only for me but for everyone. Adequacy and the ability to live in a competitive environment are the key to progress. After all, it's not that interesting, because it's important to get a Dzyga when you really act phenomenally. That's why I’ve expressed my opinion both as an actress and as a member of the Ukrainian Film Academy.

Nomination for the role of Paraska in The Old Miller's Tale surprised me. I was in the right place in that movie, but I can't say that it was a difficult character for me.

Is Paraska's role at the level when the actor actually plays her own character?

No, Ostap Stupka and I were just playing in front of the camera and thinking about it. It needed to be like that because it was a fairytale! We were creating a contrast for a couple of main characters. And I am very grateful to Ostap because Paraska by herself does not exist, these characters are very attached to each other.

But the role is written especially for you…

Screenwriter Serhiy Havryliuk said, "Irmochka, I wrote a role for you." I don't know, maybe he exaggerated, but it turned out well. The fifth Golden Dzyga Award is coming soon.

Do you feel the positive development with the acting nominations?

Of course, this also applies to the quality of films. We have been growing and competing with the previous year. That is, every time we do better than the previous year. Of course, there are still some weaknesses, but now the nomination includes serious quality work, and I don't even know which of the nominees I would single out more.

Do you feel more inclined to be a theatrical or film actress?

It's a different way of life, but since 2016 I've been more attached to cinema. This is a temporary phenomenon because I can dedicate the next two years mainly to theater.

Critics believe that in terms of acting, Ukrainian theater today mostly adheres to conservative trends, which is not the case with cinema. Don't you think this is a paradox? There is a sad joke that Ukrainian theater universities teach to act in front of the camera without a camera. How do you explain this phenomenon?

In fact, we really were not taught to act for movies. I think this will change. I have long advised to introduce the practice of working in front of the camera from the first year of university. By the way, the year of the pandemic helped me personally. I am somewhat involved in the Institute of Culture and the Arts, and decided to use distance learning to allow students to try out sketches in a large and large – medium plan.

Last spring, I taught the first year and wrote them contactless sketches of the state of expectation, from which you need to get out in a contrasting state (that is, there should be a fear, disappointment, or a pleasant meeting). And in those one and a half minutes I had to see the process of changing the character. I set them the horizon as a requirement (so that the range of view worked)  –  I had to see the whole process that took place in the actor's head  –  trying to see the object on the horizon, doubts…

I also composed a close–up sketch where there was a different degree of the head rotation. There were a lot of sketches about waiting for a man from the front, and I am glad that young people are not indifferent to what is happening. The large film plan does not allow you to "grimace" or to give amplitude, as you can in theater. There it is necessary to show all emotions subtly. I'm talking about grimacing for a reason because at first the students were really doing that, they couldn't figure out how to convey this documentary existence. After this story, I made a definite note: theater is reincarnation, and cinema is dissolution. Despite the fact that you also play a certain character in a movie, but the way of existence in a movie is still an absolute lack of visible acting. There are film genres that involve conventionality, but actually learning to exist outside of it is a task. The theater has its nuances: the big stage  –  one, the small one   –  another, the microscene  –  the third. It is the microscene that is closest to cinema.

In the manner of presentation, do you make a difference between television and cinema?

I would not say that they are completely different; it depends on the level of the series. TV is a dynamic, constant filling of the air. There is no content that would hold on to long compositional pauses  –  when the shot flies and we see how the operator conducts the action. In addition, the television format is mainly interested in leisure: dynamics, action, pleasant pastime, distracted from which for 5 minutes, you will not lose anything in understanding the plot. In cinema, the course of the plot can be stopped and extended longer. The language of cinema presupposes the independence of each member of the creative group. Your wide popularity began with television.

You became a star thanks to the sitcom Lesya + Roma.

I became a recognizable media figure. There is popularity today, but tomorrow it can disappear. And the star is a person of the era. You can call me whatever you want, but I do not condone being called a star. Excuse me, we can only talk about the star in the past, “Was I a star in this country in a certain era?”. I was offered to install a star near Gulliver shopping mall after Lesya + Roma, but I refused because there were living legends there. I would simply be uncomfortable in front of them. And when I got prominent roles and honors, and when a star appeared, for example, Ada Rogovtseva, I honestly told myself that it was possible.

The role of Lesia was a long time ago, and the public has known you for it for a long time. This image of a sweet, spontaneous woman has become attached to you, although in the theater you accidentally played characters opposite to her. Involuntarily, it seemed that in another hypostasis you would no longer be perceived. When did you feel that this trail left and you began to be perceived as other characters?

The media presence of my own name ensured the work of the presenter on television, then Irma Vitovskaya left Lesya. "The Kid Can", "Little Giants", "Show Must Go On", "People's Star"  –  I appeared on different channels as Irma Vitovskaya. I was offered many roles similar to Lesya, but I refused. I don't know when everyone started to perceive me differently, and the first professional who offered me a new image was Anatoliy Mateshko in the TV series Shark. And accordingly, these were then roles of a different nature, far from Lesya. However, these series did not run as often as Lesya + Roma, which was in rotation for seven years after implementation. Of course, if you see Lesya every day, it is reinforced.

I switched to the roles of bitches, and I was only offered such roles. Then I got tired of it, and then… war. I closed the topic with Russian – language TV series, finishing two projects in 2014. Then there was only the State Cinema, and I don't think Baba Prisya or Galya intersect with Lesya.

Yes, many people adore Lesya and Roma, they want to capture this moment, and it's great. This sitcom went down in the history of television as a series of the era, but not in the history of cinema and art. I understand that Lesya will not leave me anywhere, but now Irma Vitovska is in a big movie.

Are there roles that you consider crucial in terms of personal and skill development?

All for which I received recognition from the experts. The Baba Prisya who is theatrical, the Baba Prisya who is in Brama, the Galya who is from MyThoughts are Silent, another role in the TV series Waiting List  –  there cannot be many such roles a priori.

You played the role of Baba Prisca both in the theater and in the cinema.

The basis is common  –  the play by Paul Arie. How did you feel the difference in the incarnations of one image? With the help of intelligence and two wonderful directors. When Stas Zhirkov took me for Baba Prisya in Stalkers, I told him, "With me it will be either a great success or a great failure." My certain historical knowledge helped me to convey everything that the woman went through. I know perfectly well how she was brought up and formed. She has known much more from birth  –  from steppe women and beyond. This is a spontaneous archetype of Ukraine.

Theatrical performance allows you to start with the grotesque and certain conventions and then move on to the second act, where everything is narrowed down to certain symbols, harsh metaphors, and farce. That's why Stalkers came out.

As for the film Brama, there is no such reception; you can not avoid detail. What would it look like with the exterior around you  –  the reactor and the whole shitshow nearby? In the movie, Baba appears from the beginning as an antisocial person who smells of blood, shit, and meat. A savage who has not communicated with humans for 10 years and has certain animalistic reactions because she lives with wolves and hunts hares. We cannot reject this reality. But it is unrealistic to put the whole play on the screen because it takes a lot of time to immerse yourself in life around you.

Do you think of such a detailed background for each role?

Yes, I find the appropriate plastic, too. When I was doing make–up for Baba Prisya, I asked the make–up artists to pour more makeup on my eyelids so that irritation would arise. So we organically achieved the effect of old eyes. After those masks, the epidermis suffered a lot. It is very difficult, even in that makeup it was problematic even to drink: lips were sealed, teeth were closed. And sleep at the same time for 3 hours for several weeks, because it is 2 hours from the hotel to the location. But I am happy that I got such a jackpot as this role. I wish every actress would get something like that  –  to play someone very distant from yourself.

On the contrary, you called Galia's role in My Thoughts Are Silent a rehearsal of your future experience.

That's how I was influenced by reading the scene in the car because of which I agreed to act. I thought, "That’s awful if I hear such words from my son!". When I acted, I created a mismatch in my head, putting children's photos in front of my eyes, which contradicted the character's son's words "Nobody needs you." So I achieved the right emotions. We eventually tried to not rehearse that scene, but we discussed it for a long time to see if we felt the same way. For my character, the scene was the culmination, and it made it easier for me to build the states of the heroine before and after. We shot it pretty quickly; I took to it right away.

Another difficult scene is, in addition to it, when Galya talks about pea soup in the hotel. In that delicate moment, it was impossible to fall into candid humor, although the text was funny. In the car, Galya grew old in front of her eyes and let her son go, at that moment losing the meaning of her life. It was important to keep this state in the following scenes, but to show the change. We were looking for this dosage, and that's why rehearsals started from the scene about pea soup. She wakes up renewed  because that "bird" has already flown away, and she is now free. They are united again by the scene in the temple  –  also a pure metaphor.

The trailer of the second part of My Thoughts Are Silent has already been presented. All the fans of the film were very happy, but don't you think that returning to this story will destroy the catharsis that we saw in the deep meaning of the first part?

I rely on Antonio. The film is still in progress, and of course, there should be an explanation for why the mother reappeared. I also care, because we  –  the actors  –  are not responsible for the end result. But I hope Antonio knows something by introducing a third person into the story. Taking another person into your family and giving them to your son is also difficult, so don't count on easy comedy. If it was the story of two again, I would refuse. Continuation for two could be justified only if a lot of time had passed and the mother before leaving for the Lord had begun to wonder, and Vadim should have taken care of her.

Such stories are always complex. Most recently, everyone was impressed by the reincarnation of Anthony Hopkins in the film Father.

You also starred in Antonio Lukic’s film in the series "Sex, Insta, and ZNO"

Yes, I always shoot with Lukic.

Do you understand each other so well?

Yes. Directors often form "their" list of actors. I don't see a problem with the fact that Antonio can transform me into different stories. In "Sex, Insta, and ZNO" I made three episodes in a day. Lukic knows he doesn't need to spend much time with me. He doesn't even have time to negotiate his wishes; I understand them immediately. In fact, it is with many directors like that, and after such interactions I remain in their constant pool.

The Italian director I finished filming Cosa Nostra with said he would shoot me often now. I'm joking that I can only play a speechless role because I don't know Italian. Such wishes of the directors mean that I realize what he wants to see in the shot.

You recently joked that you are being used to discover new talents. Do you feel that you have a certain mission in this regard?

Of course, I think it is necessary to give my experience to open a new name. This is always a risk because there is a chance of failure. Therefore, first of all, there must be a good script. If the story doesn't touch me, then I don't agree to act. Solomiya Tymoschuk's debut film will be released in 2022, where you will see a radically different Irma. A lot depends on the partners, and Nastya Pustovit and great actors play there with me. I went to film with Solomiya because it was an opportunity to show myself in a completely different way. My character immediately enters the picture very encapsulated with a heavy load of problems and in a big depression.

And I did the King of Rap because we met with the now deceased Yura Minzyanov and Miroslav Latik and decided that it would be cool. I acted in a small supporting role there, but this was the whole fate. There, from a comedy, everything grows into a tragedy. In general, I like to enter in minor keys and exit in major keys or vice versa.

Are you very attached to your characters?

I remember your touching posts about theatrical performances in which you acted for a long time. I love all my images, even unsuccessful roles. I understand when my role is a failure. And the reasons for failure are different; it's not always related to skill.

Was your development as an actress accompanied by regret for certain roles that you never got to act?

I used to really want certain roles  –  as with all young actors. And now I'm calm: I act in what I have. First, the lack of expectations does not spoil life. I don't sit and wait for specific roles, chasing pipe dreams and wasting my time. And I don't even get involved in unfinished work. I love to go to negotiations, to get "pregnant" by an idea, but before the rehearsals start, I do not tune into the full, because internal abortion is the worst. In my youth, there was such an abortion. I don't have much time left. All the work needs to be done clearly.

So you were previously worried about certain roles?

Yes, when they did not work out, but there was a feeling that the appropriate age had passed. Why beat yourself up? This is a logical period, all young people go through it. Every actress has a big ambition about herself, otherwise she is not a real actress. With maturity comes comfort and understanding that there are many wonderful things  –  family, friends, travel, rest, inclusion in another job. After all, there is a war in the country, it is necessary to be involved in social problems.

I can not ignore your initiative to create a film union. As far as I understand, the situation turned out to be a bit confusing…

I reacted to a lot of posts in film groups from social networks. The last straw was that I was offered to play in a Russian – language product  –  as if our war was over. I wrote a post in which I reminded that the war was going on and that we would never make Ukraine Ukrainian with such indifference. For me, the categorical question is which way to stand, and language is a marker of this. To continue filming in Russian means to continue to keep the majority of citizens in encapsulation.

However, there was an information noise around my person about it, and it reached me. In sincere intentions, for some reason, they are looking for my desire to receive some dividends. To devalue a person's success, one must either silence that person or give that success a different interpretation. So they think about my position   –   that I am either crazy or show off. They say, "Of course, it's easy for her to tell if she's okay." Although no one knows what my affairs really are, I am a closed person.

Then I started getting answers from colleagues and realized that many people are filmed in Russian – language series out of despair. The fact that there are not enough Ukrainian – language proposals is a difficult issue. I slept with this information and realized that I am already a red rag for many, and I really have no right to demand such a sacrifice from them. Perhaps my words humiliated and offended my colleagues. So then I wrote a post saying that it is necessary to protect the rights of all Ukrainian actors, regardless of what language they play. They must have equal decent conditions with the actors who will be dropped here.

Short profile

Ukrainian theater and film actress, producer, public figure; has been working at the Young Theater (since 1998). Honored Artist of Ukraine.