The disappearance of a man, a famous musician, is investigated in the film Urma by the policeman Mihnea Nicoara (Teodor Corban) called by the family, but – as the investigation progresses – the enigma grows. The disappearance is presented in flashbacks; In itself an enigmatic figure, Anton is a solitary man, with a creative job, with an unstable temperament and, most likely, with an incurable disease. Is he dead or alive? Where is Anton?
In a police officer a certain role is played by the intuition of the detective. What is your character’s intuition about the mystery of Anton’s disappearance?
“The cliches run all the time, like incense hell” (Teodor Corban)
Teodor Corban: It is a profession that involves a certain type of thinking structured on regulations, on specific types, on a certain kind of analysis and, last but not least, on routine. The policeman works all the time with strangers and that is why his way of expertizing information turns him into a regular scoundrel. He’s a man who’s always curious about being involved. Intuition is a feeling that all people have, but the Commissioner has cultivated and exacerbated this quality.
In the role of detective, did you have a role model? I mainly refer to the police genre with a slower tempo, such as Urma.
Teodor Corban: I didn’t want to look for a model. But, working on this role, I activated my memory and remembered a situation that I went through many years ago and that marked me. Through a complex of circumstances I came to be interrogated in the case of a crime, which of course I had neither in my womb nor in my sleeve. The victim was a neighbor and my interrogation was probably part of the procedure. Well, this episode was a unique experience; the investigator had a way of being, of asking questions, of looking at you, of accentuating pressed just a few words … that froze you. He was polite, cold, sharp as a surgeon. I came out of it trembling, as if it had induced me to feel guilty. Here I was, on the occasion of this role, I remembered that formidable experience. And I used it as much as I could, I fed off that trauma as if it were an acting lesson.
Was there a cliché you wanted to avoid as a detective?
Teodor Corban: The cliches run all the time, like incense hell! The cliches are the death of the actor. All the more so in a policeman, where the traps of “deja vu” are at hand. Everyone is soaked by the clichés of the American police movie, especially, everyone knows how a cop should look and behave. This was a great danger. That is why I wanted Mihnea Nicoara to be equally human, a man with his life problems, with a biography and outside working hours, even if in the film it transpires very little.
What do you think is the essential quality of your image that recommends you as a cop or detective?
Teodor Corban: Here the director can best answer you … I suspect that my choice is due on the one hand to my physical data and my appearance as a sober individual, who imposes a kind of authority, and on the other hand I believe (and I hope!) that he needed my kind as an actor, with the experience and the kind of malleability and transparency needed to create a raisonneur character.
The way the movie ends, the character of the policeman becomes a secondary one and his effort is useless. Could it have been something he discovered that could overturn the situation?
Teodor Corban: Paradoxically, yes, my character is also main and secondary. Mainly because Commissioner Mihnea Nicoara delivers and reveals with the viewer the waters of the whole story. Through it, step by step, one enters the “mocirla” of that strange family, one of whom is missing, and the others around him do not cooperate. And the policeman becomes secondary when his dramatic function ceases, because the heroes of this family become primordial. It is an atypical story, with an unexpected ending, in which the role of policeman – guide disappears to reveal an incredible death. What could have happened as a result of the investigation is difficult to say. Here we can only speculate. I can answer you as I told a viewer his question, that if there will be a second part of the movie: “Yes and it will be called ‘Nicoara counterattack'”.
Tell us a few things about the specific means of expression you have thought of in shaping your character.
Teodor Corban: In the film the actor does not abound in means of expression. They are the essential ones: think, truth, naturally … A policeman during the investigation must be as hermetic as possible to outsource; you have to look in control to be able to dominate. Dosage – this was probably the most important element of the game.
Do you consider yourself dependent on a particular type of cinema? What would that be and why?
Teodor Corban: I am dependent on many films, actors, film directors. Everything I have seen in my life has been deposited in one way or another in me. I have favorite movies, actors who have been a beacon to me, genres of movies that follow me. I think they are a sum of all this. Look, for example, I didn’t think of him when filming Urma, but Jean Gabin’s image in Commissioner Maigret haunted me. But, explicitly, I can’t say where I got my character from. We are the depositors of an enormous amount of information, and when you access the “chamber” of the mind, you come across things you never thought of.
What movie projects are you running? What theater projects are you involved in right now?
Teodor Corban: In the summer I will be part of an ambitious project, supported by Hospice-Romania, on cancer patients and promoting their palliative support. More specifically, it is an artistic feature film made by some of the most sound and beloved actors in Romania. At the theater I repeat in a project “3 on a swing” by Luigi Lunari, in which I play and to which I also sign the director.
In acting you are guided by a certain rule? Irina Rădulescu said `I always look for simplicity and truth`.
Teodor Corban: In acting, in general, I prefer not to have rules, because I know that nothing is cast in bronze. The rules in the art are made to be demolished. But to demolish them, you must know them.
How do you relate to the actor Dem Rădulescu? For some of your generation it was the idol of childhood. For others, the indispensable dose of survival.
Teodor Corban: Dem Radulescu is a talisman that I always carry in my heart and mind. He is and remains a personal good, being at the same time a national good.