Gajos, Janusz

(1939-)
   Outstanding film and theatrical actor. After graduating from the acting department at the Łódź Film School, Gajos starred in one of the most popular television series ever produced in Poland, Four Tankmen and a Dog (Czterej pancerni i pies, twenty-one episodes, 1966-1967), directed by Konrad Nałęcki. In this adventure war film, Gajos played the commander of the the tank Rudy on its road to Poland from the Soviet Union. Also in 1967, he appeared in a war drama, The Barn at Salvator (Stajnia na Salwatorze, 1967, Paweł Komorowski), as an underground soldier who gets an order to kill a friend who has betrayed his organization. The genuine, instant popularity after Four Tankman and a Dog and identification with the role proved to be a curse for Gajos. In the late 1970s, he successfully tried to change his image by starring in Sylwester Szyszko's film The Millionaire (Milioner, 1977), for which he received an acting award at the Festival of Polish Films, and appearing in the role of the down-to-earth custodian Turecki in the television program Olga Lipinska's Cabaret. The popularity of this program and Gajos's role proved to be another obstacle for his career. Another stereotype started to function, despite his outstanding roles in films made during the Solidarity period that were banned after December of 1981: Filip Bajon's television film Shillyshally (1981), Andrzej Wajda's Man of Iron (1981), and Ryszard Bugajski's Interrogation (1982/1989).
   Toward the end of the 1980s, Gajos starred in Janusz Zaorski's popular Soccer Poker (1989) and gained critical acclaim for his role in Wojciech Marczewski's Escape from the "Freedom" Cinema (1990), where he starred as a disillusioned Communist censor who fathoms the misery of his present life. He also appeared in Krzysztof Kieslowski's Decalogue 4 (1988) and the second part of the Three Colors Trilogy: White (1994). Polish critics praised his performances in Juliusz Machulski's Squadron (1992) and Kazimierz Kutz's Death as a Slice of Bread (1994).
   In recent years Gajos has appeared in a variety of genres, playing different characters. He played policemen, often corrupt ones, in films such as Władysław Pasikowski's The Pigs (1992), in the popular television series The Extradition (1995-1996), and in Patryk Vega's Pitbull (2005). He also starred as an alcoholic man in Janusz Morgenstern's acclaimed television film Yellow Scarf (2000), as a thief in Jacek Bromski's It's Me, the Thief (2000), and as a character who tries to escape from Communist Poland in a political suspense drama by Wojciech Wójcik, There and Back (2002). Gajos also appeared in epic adaptations of the national canon, such as Filip Bajon's Early Spring (2001) and Andrzej Wajda's Revenge (2002).
   Gajos was recognized in different Polish plebiscites as the best or the most popular actor and television personality. In the plebiscite of weekly Polityka, he was voted the third most important twentieth-century Polish actor. He received seven Best Actor awards at the Festival of Polish Films for leading and supporting roles (including starring roles in Interrogation, Escape from the "Freedom" Cinema, Shilly-Shally, and The Millionaire) and the Polish Film Award "Eagle" for his supporting role in It's Me, the Thief.
   Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema by Marek Haltof

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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