Few actors have received such a talent as Rudolf Hrušínský, whose performances in front of the camera – for example in The Incinerator – still cause freezing in the audience. In his time, he also shone on stage, whether as Jago in Othello or Baron Krüg in White Disease.
Hrušínský did not need a distinctive costume or make-up, a look and expression was enough for him. “It has always had simplicity. Hrušínský was a genius of simplicity,” Jan Tříska once said of an artist who could masterfully play practically anything with the use of economical means. Whether it was a beast in the Incinerator or a poet of life who loves the beauty of the landscape in the Village of My Center. However, he was just as believable in the character of Major Kalaš from a series of still popular criminals.
Rudolf Hrušínský entered the history of Czech cinema mainly in one role, the devilishly ethereal Karel Kopfrkingl, who was fanatized by Nazi ideology, killed his Jewish wife, son and tried to kill his own daughter. The film adaptation of a psychological horror based on a model by Ladislav Fuks, shot by Juraj Herz during the political release in the late 1960s, ended up on the index during normalization – and so did Hrušínský.
A deserving artist (and even a laureate of the Klement Gottwald State Prize) signed the manifesto Two Thousand Words in 1968 and refused to revoke his signature after the occupation of Czechoslovakia. He lost the opportunity to teach at the Faculty of Theater, cooperation with him was interrupted by television, radio and film, and roles in the National Theater also came sporadically. It took seven years, and František Vláčil broke the barrier when he pushed Hrušínský into the film The Smoke of the Potato Stem (by the way, referred to as Vláčil’s relief of the regime).
“I was happy for that. Before that, I sat at home thinking of unpleasant things for years. They prepared a perfect psychic murder for me,” Hrušínský, who met Vláčil later, wrote in his memoirs. For example, in the village of My Center, the director had a small role as grandfather Ticháček, who is being investigated by Dr. Skružný. In Vláčil’s very last film, The Mage (1987) about Karel Hynek Mácha, Rudolf Hrušínský then worked as a reciter of poetry verses.