Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vesa-Matti Loiri (Sodankylä Morning Discussion with Peter von Bagh)

The Sodankylä School, 17 June 2010. Vesa-Matti Loiri (born 1945) is a beloved Finnish actor, singer, flautist, sportsman, and comedian. There was standing room only at the school hall. Loiri performed with a hundred per cent presence.

Which was the first film you saw? - Early influences include Kaunis Veera with Assi Nortia, Gunga Din, Harold Lloyd - later Ansiktet and Shichinin no samurai.
Early days - After the war it was a time when everything was scarce. I loved the sports, all kinds of them, running, football, in the winter hockey, but football was the main sport. - A favourite book of my youth was a collection of Eino Leino's poems, Smiling Apollo.
The theater school. - It was deemed that my "voice is all rotten". Aatto Sonninen the voice specialist taught me the yoga breathing technique.
Pojat (The Boys, 1962). - Telepathically, I had already read the novel and dreamed about being able to play in that story. - Mikko Niskanen was worried that the film won't succeed if he doesn't find the proper Jake.
How was Mikko Niskanen? - Mikko was boss, the team was great, we had an almost onomatopoietic mutual respect - we sometimes didn't even use real words but something barely resembling words.
You are a team player. - I never set to become a star. In the theater, in films, in sports, in music, I am a team player, a band player. - Spede (Pertti Pasanen) stole me for himself. - It was bitter that my collaboration with Mikko didn't continue. The reason was my greed.
Lapualaisooppera (The Lapua Opera, 1966), directed by Kalle Holmberg, with Loiri as Kosola. - We worked together a lot with Kalle, crossed thresholds of shyness. The team spirit was incredible. - In Sweden at the Dramaten people like Jarl Kulle were scared because of our force. - In The Seven Brothers the question was to reinvent the freshness. You can get stuck (leipääntyä) in some phase of your evolution. - Theatre in Sweden, including Ingmar Bergman's, was at the time light boulevard comedy.
There was a rupture - you found the comedian inside you. - I grew first in the army, 14 cm in 3 months. - On television, at Jatkoaika, and at Mainostelevisio with Pekka Parikka, I got to act comedy. I got bit parts with Spede, but I managed to magnify them. With a couple of exceptions Spede was ambitious before the Uuno Turhapuro films.
Models? - I had two: Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton.
Uuno Turhapuro. - Was born out of a tv sketch about a couple quarreling about a lotto prize which hasn't even been won yet. - At best it was a hell of a good team, like Paul Jyrälä, Kari Sohlberg. It was fun to do. - With Spede, he wanted to be the hero. With me, Spede withdrew. I sensed that he would have liked to play Uuno, himself. - Uuno was like a radio transmitter which receives signals.
Turku City Theatre, four years. - We played The Seven Brothers 60 times.
There was no schitzophrenia with playing Uuno and the classics during the same years.
A good comedian knows tragedy, but it is not the other way round. - You can compare that with a talent of music. - The actor must stand behind his role. - It was tough with Brecht, Kosola: I wanted to create characters you can understand. - The comedian sees the sore spot.
Ere Kokkonen. - Ere got me to do comedy, really going, starting with Noin 7 veljestä. - Jussi Pussi: Ere also wanted to do another kind of movie. - Ere was inspiring, jovial, wonderful. - Ere was avid for contests but a bad loser. - The Uuno gear is a variation on Finnish sports and army wear, all run down. - Uuno Turhapuro This Is My Life was based on the insight of Ere, the continuity and the emphases, inherited from the world of Tarkas.
Jaakko Pakkasvirta and Pedon merkki. - Jaska is a remarkable director, I digged him a lot.
You are assigned the scenes of fragility, of facing death. - Jaska had trust. He saw the sensitivity in the same way as Mikko. The shamanism. - Films have been made with low budgets here.
Jon cannot be shown because of the rights trouble. - One of my very dearest film roles. He could be Jake who has grown up.
Rakastunut rampa. - Was a disappointment.
Ulvova mylläri - Arto Paasilinna is quite a guy.
Rauta-aika. - I met Paavo Haavikko quite often. I played Ilmari the blacksmith. The text was difficult: the main sentence terms (in Finnish subjekti, predikaatti) were missing, the dialogue was ultra-laconic, but when we got it, we went on with it even during the breaks. Had nothing to do with the Kalevala. Haavikko was a hell of a bright guy.
You have a unique live lift in your concerts. - It is shamanism. - Light is important, it must not be too bright: I want to see the audience, exactly like this. - I keep waging a small fight about the lighting. - I got to speak for the Finnish hockey team when Curt Lindström was the coach, about exposing yourself, what you prefer to do best, you have been selected to a small team, facing a unique audience, each situation, each time is different. - Once during a concert I realized I started to glance at the watch, think what I'm going to have for dinner and count how many songs are left. Then I decided that if that ever happens again I have no right to go on doing this. If I'm not totally involved, seeing the uniqueness, when the audience has come just to see me.
Exposure. - Making a film, it's a jigsaw puzzle, you need to withhold a certain trait. - The actor needs to be active. You need to know what the camera distance is. I create the spectator on both sides of the camera. I think I know quite a lot about how the shot must be concluded. Kari Sohlberg realizes this. - It would be terrible if there would be no live audience. - I have been incredibly lucky. - About a hundred guys auditioned for Pojat.
Which Finnish folk song does the audience evoke in you? - Tääll' yksinäni laulelen [Here I sing alone].
Which film would you take to the desert island? - Rashomon.

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