Friday, November 9, 2012

Homework Assignment: From A Vampire On Stage To Dubbing In A Blink Of An Eye

Krisztina Nádorfi is an actress who is mostly known for her lead role in the musical Tanz Der Vampire (Vámpírok Bálja); what people may not know is that she is also big in the dubbing industry – actually, she might be the voice of one of your favorite characters!

Reporter: What was that movie or song or play that made you realize that you wanted to be involved in acting?
Krisztina Nádorfi: It was a play: Doctor Herz. My sister used to go to Madách Theatre a lot at the time and she kept going on and on about this play that I decided to see it myself and, well, I got stuck. I was about twelve when I saw it and it really got a grip on me. So it was in that moment that the idea of working in this industry came to mind. I was already singing in the children’s choir in the radio – so I had the music part down. From then on I spent all of my time in Madách. I had seen my favorites at least 20 or 40 times.
R: Such as?
KN: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the old version of course. Another example would be Vörös Malom.
R: And where did you study?
KN: I enrolled in the Aranytíz Musical Studió – and it was there that I really started to lay the ground work for this career. I kind of grew out of that environment so I moved on to Vasutas Musical Stúdió with Mária Toldi. Almost at the same time I also started to work with the Rock Színház, although that was not their name anymore. Either way they started to tour in Germany and were still looking for people for their adaptation of Dorian Gray and fortunately I got a part in it. That was the point where my so called professional career began: after the German Dorian Gray I played in Evita. No, I did not speak German. They just gave us the lyrics and we had two coaches who helped with the pronunciations. So the tour took up about four years. Afterwards I got situated in Sopron with István Mikó where I played in something every year, mostly musicals of course.
So this was the beginning for me. I tried to learn everything I could about this environment but actually it was the actor and actress colleagues who really helped me along the way. But this is a kind of thing that you cannot really learn while sitting at a desk in school. However it really depends on whether or not you have a talent for it.
Krisztina playing Sarah in
Tanz Der Vampire
R: How did the Tanz Der Vampire (VámpírokBálja) come along?
KN: The original idea was to present the show in 2006, but this was pushed back a year. The producer, Dr. Edit Simon, was an acquaintance who let us know that the show was coming to Hungary. We had no special treatment at the audition, seeing that in this case the producer had absolutely no say in the matter of the casting. But we were given a chance to familiarize with the play beforehand. It wasn’t too soon that we realized that this was no help at all... So just like anybody else, we sent in our CV’s and we were given an appointment. There was over 900 of us with three rounds of additions. There was an extra addition as they were still looking to fill parts; the stakes were so high that they didn’t manage to find every character they were looking for.  There was director Cornelius Baltus, with Dennis Callahan the choreographer on his side. You know this play is presented in the very same way in every country, although ours was the first one that had rotary stage. Which now they use in other shows abroad as well: like Belgium, and if I remember correctly Vienna as well. Basically Kentaur’s designs where such a hit that all the other shows wanted in on them. It was quite entertaining to see the pictures of my costume on other actresses. And not just costumes and stage, but also actors and dancers where contracted to play abroad. Anyway, getting back: The auditions were really rough. Looking back at it now I can see that they took it very seriously. The best part however was that Cornelius never looked at our CVs’ previous our singing on stage. They were there in front of him, but facing downwards. He was not interested in where we came from; he only wanted to know what we can do on stage.
R: Do you agree with Cornelius’ approach?
KN: 100%. I understand that people need the known people for audiences to go to the theatre. This is really the Hungarian mentality: If you don’t see someone either in television or in magazines you don’t care for them. This implies that you will not see a stage play if you don’t know anyone from the cast. Unfortunately there is some true to it, though. However this way the underdog never really gets a chance. This is why a person such as Géza Egyházi, who was previously a waiter, could become the lead in a musical of such humongous fame abroad! There is plenty of hidden talent out there who we never discover because of this closed mentality. There is need of directors who would take the time and polish these diamonds in the rough. So we end up with the same 10 people in literally everything.
R: I find that people who are already known have an easier time staying in the public’s eyes while not giving a chance for others.
KN: That is not necessarily true, seeing that sooner or later they will become old as well. There is and will be need for fresh blood. There is a great example, of Julia Roberts in NottingHill (Stárom A Párom): She is a star now, but she will be an old lady soon who will only resemble a star. Not to mention that even political affiliations are now concern for hiring actors. And it is my personal belief that art and politics should not be mixed; and actor shouldn’t have to shout out his political belief but stand out of the crowd to enforce art.
However, getting back to playing favorites, of course having a known name associated with a play is method used abroad as well. But abroad, just a few kilometers from us they take this really seriously.  I mean kids can sing in a way you didn’t think was possible.
Krisztina with Sándor Nagy on stage
R: I remember that before my very first day in a Hungarian school, my dad took us to see the musical. (It was September 2nd, Sunday). You were playing Sarah (the lead) and your counterpart was Nagy Sándor (playing Graf Von Krolock). Can you tell me, did you have a favorite Krolock?
KN: Not really. I loved to play with all of them as they were all different. They made each show different. We had plenty of fun on stage. This would count as background information (she said laughing): we were able to give a performance that moved the audience. Sándor, Géza ... Bálint Merán! They were all great. Also you can get kind of bored after playing the same part over and over – so we tried to entertain each other as much as possible.
R: I’m guessing you have no favorite Alfred then either? (Characters played by László Sánta and Tibor Héger).
KN: No, of course not. They were all fantastic. An example of our fun time on stage would be the scene where I drop my sponge – made of a material that jumps around of course – and it landed on places that weren’t in my radius. Plenty of times, Laci Sánta for example, would save me by pointing at it “Your sponge!” so I would have an idea in which direction I should start looking for it! Seeing that all of our moves where co-ordinated and there was really no place to be ourselves: the only chance we had to have fun was thanks to the fact that all of these actors played the part a bit differently.

Krisztina performing the maing song, 'Totale Finsternis (Total Eclipse Of The Heart)' with her
male counterpart Sándor Nagy

R: Do you have a favorite song? Both performing and/or as an outsider?
KN: ‘Piros Csizmák’ (Red Boots) (click here to hear the song!). I believe it is the best song and at the same time the hardest. The viewer may not know or see that we have a couple of songs before it that completely drain our energies, not to mention our lungs... This song is one of those examples when we breathe through our skin! But that extra kick makes it much better.
Me and Krisztina after the New Year's Eve show on
December 31, 2007
R: What ended your run with the show?
KN: My contract had expired. After a talk both they and I agreed that there was no need to extend it. It was time to let the youngsters have a chance at it.
R: Dubbing. That seems to be an interesting jump from musicals. Tell me, how did you get across this job?
KN: A friend of mine was dubbing and once I asked her to help me get in, seeing that I too was interested in it. It was just my luck that on the same day I left my phone number (this was at Filmhatár Stúdió) they needed someone and called me in instantly. And that is how it all started – and it seemed like a really good fit for me. It is important to be hard working, that way the directors will want to work with you, and they call you to other places; then the production managers get to know you and slowly my name was at every studio’s desk. But this is a whole different career. People think it is easy, it is not. You need to learn it the same way you would with any other profession.
R: Did you have any prior training?
KN: No, I was lucky enough to have a talent for it. Not many do. There are these training programs that help you speak better. People think of them as schemes to rob one of their money, but they are in fact very useful, not only for those who plan a future in the dubbing industry; also for those who have problems talking in front of people, or have basic communication problems. Think of job interviews where you need to sound your best; or if you embark on a career where you need to stand out in front of three and more people and speak in a way that you are understood. I can also give you examples of people who clearly aren’t meant for dubbing, even if they are great actors. You can of course learn the technique; however you need to be able to act with your voice. Biggest difficulty being that obviously you are not the one playing the part: You just need to provide a voice for the actor who has already played that role. But in this industry you need to trust the directors. If they know you, they work with you – it takes a long time to get to the good roles. It is a really, really, really slow procedure.
R: What was the latest work you’ve done?
KN: The latest? Erm… oh yes, it was a voice over for a dating reality show.
On her recent trip in the US
R: Can you mention any roles that you are particularly proud of? For example on the big screen?
KN: Yes, in Avatar I was the voice of an Asian technician in the beginning of the movie. It wasn’t a big part, but still, I am quite proud of that. I also voiced some of the characters in the movie Valentine’sDay (Valentin Nap). Another favorite would be the typical blonde: in this case Sherry, in the movie Must Love Dogs (Kutyátlanok Kíméljenek). That scene was even uploaded to YouTube with the Hungarian dubbing (laughs), people seemed to like it. (You can see the scene below!) I mostly enjoy roles that have something special about them, this last character was such a stereotypical character that I enjoyed it far more then I would’ve with others. I don’t particularly enjoy those Spanish and Venezuelan women who don’t really say nor do anything that needs any kind of emotional involvement. Although we do like these soap operas that go on forever – they pay the bills.

R: Can you tell us something about the procedure that goes on behind the cameras and the microphones?
KN: Of course. Many people, for example, assume that we get a chance to see what we are going to dub over beforehand. That is not the case at all! We have our headphones on and we hear the original. The very first time we see our scene is after the minute we get our scripts, so we see the lips movement, the length and the mood of the characters. And then action! A couple more takes and moving on to the next scene. We don’t necessarily do the scenes in order. It also depends on whether or not we are sharing a scene with someone else. Of course the situation is different when we are re-dubbing. Last time we were working on Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood, which naturally we all knew by heart, so we had an easier time.
R: Are there any other actors with whom you just love to work with?
KN: Yes, Gábor Forgács. I simply fall off my chair laughing when I’m working with him. He is a real blast! We did Miami Vice together and it was really a great experience.
"Hercules And The Muse", with
Krisztina in the middle
R: I have heard that you were responsible for the initiation of the cast of Vampires adopting a “flying dog”, as in a big bat in the city zoo. Do you still do charity work for animals?
KN: Yes, I try to be involved as much as I can. Unfortunately after you come to the realization that you cannot save every single animal, not matter how hard you try, it gets a bit harder. But if I get any requests to appear or judge, for example at contests, then I say yes immediately. I love these kinds of things.
R: Let’s say that you get a call from one of the big theatres tomorrow, offering you a lead role in the coming up musical. Would you accept it?
KN: Hypothetically, I would think about it … and where I am at right now, I would probably say no. It would be very tempting indeed! But … (She sat in silence, thought about my question for a minute or two.) Well, let’s admit that it is very unlikely.
R: Hypothetically, let us assume just the same.
KN: I would think about it because it depends also on the musical and the part I’m offered. Surprisingly, I do not miss it as much as I used to. I get my same kick of adrenaline from dubbing. Not to mention less stress! Also, the theatre pretty much destroys one’s social life. I and my fiancée are planning a family, and that would have to be put on hold for such a project. Maybe the only reason that would tempt me is to let my fiancée see me on stage, seeing that he never had the chance. I would probably be in a bit of a quarrel if it were one of my dream roles.
R: So there is such a role that could tempt you into saying yes?
KN: There is. I have always wanted to play Éponine in Les Miserables (Nyomorultak). But I never got the chance to. In these cases type casting comes in. We are pretty much told to stay in our own areas of expertise. But think of The Lion King: That musical won’t be available in Hungary for a very long time, as the contract stipulates that only African-Americans can be in the cast. It would be quite hard to find the two leads, not to mention a whole cast! … Now thinking about it, another role would be Éva from Valahol Európában. And although I missed out on these, my heart is at peace now.
R: Plenty of musicals have movie adaptations. Do you have a favorite?
KN: Well, I’m guessing the new Les Miserables will be it (coming out this December!). Look, come on! What do you want me to say? That I like all the classics? Hello, Dolly!, Funny Girl … I think that Hello, Dolly! is still one of the best ones. I know that it worked the other way around, but Mary Poppins is a favorite as well. What can I say? I’m still a child at heart. Rent would be another good example – it was done pretty well. Although I think that in our Hungarian version the actress who played Mimi, Gabi Mezőfi, did a far better job. Oh, and finally The Producers.
R: Thinking of the goals you set out for yourself, are there any things that you still need to conquer, or are you just trying to enjoy life at its fullest and try to be happy?
KN: The latest. Once you grow up from the idea that every dream can be conquered you start to appreciate things the way they are. It is also important to not hang on these ideals. It is not always just up to us, you know? So many things can come between you and your dreams and if you take it too personally you can’t really go on. There is always room for improvement. And being where I am right now, I can say that I have no complaints. What more could I want? Perhaps bigger roles? The time might come for that. People know me; know what I am capable of. They also trust me and that is very important. And that goes for everyone in this profession.

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To see Krisztina’s official fan page, visit this link:
To see Sándor Nagy's official page please click here:

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