Last year was a big one for Hungarian-born actor/writer/educator Géza Röhrig, with the unexpected Best Foreign Film Oscar win for Hungary’s entry Son of Saul. Röhrig visited over 20 countries to publicize the film, sat on a panel with the Pope, and was awarded Hungary’s highest honor in the field of culture. But perhaps one of the more unlikely venues he popped up in was the pages of glossy magazines as a model for the high fashion brand and department store Barney’s.
With eight books of poetry published in Hungary, he is now writing a novel, the content of which involves several generations of a Hungarian Roma family. No stranger to hardship himself, the actor spent the first portion of his life in foster care, and was eventually adopted by a Jewish family in Budapest. Though he has a strong background in theology (with a degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and time spent at a Yeshiva in Israel) he also has a degree from the Academy of Film and Theater in Budapest where he studied under fellow Oscar-winner István Szabó, as well as a Masters in Eastern European Literature. In his youth he spent time in anti-authoritarian punk rock bands and boxing.
Though it brings less fame, it is writing that drives Röhrig as an artist. He tells Barney’s of the eight books of poetry he has published in Hungary: “Poetry has been my main focus, my lifeblood. But [you] accumulate things that are more prosaic as you get older. I got through stuff. I lost things and people. I lost a marriage. There are these things that I can’t poet out of my system, so to speak. I have to prose them out. Because they’re still sitting with me, you know?”
Röhrig is a recipient of the prestigious Kossuth Prize, given by the Hungarian State as recognition for the highest achievement in Hungarian culture. But Röhrig does not focus on such accolades. As he told the Times of Israel: “The joy is not in recognition. The joy is actually creating something.” Either way, it looks good on him.
All photos via thewindow.barneys.com
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