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Detsembris 2015 linastus Ameerika kinodes ema Teresa elust rääkiv film „The Letters“, kus tippnäitlejate kõrval mängib kaalukat kõrvalosa tuntud portreekunstnik Aapo Pukk (53).

Toivo Tänavsuu, Eesti Ekspress 27. jaanuar 2016.

Lapsest saati näitlejakarjäärist unistanud Pukk sattus oma elu esimesse päris filmirolli täiesti uskumatul kombel. Sissepääs Hollywoodi kukkus talle sisuliselt sülle.

Pukk elas perega aastatel 2007–2011 USAs Los Angelese lähistel Palos Verdes Estatesi nimelises väikelinnas. Ta tegi seal kunstnikutööd ega kavatsenud jalga filmimaailma ukse vahele torgata.

„Ühel päeval oli natuke pilves hommik, mitte ainult õues, vaid ka minus endas,“ räägib ta. „Astun korraks õue värsket õhku hingama ja näen: kaks inimest tulevad, mees ja naine. USAs on kombeks kõiki teretada. Vaatan neile hajameelse pilguga otsa ja ütlen good morning. Nad lähevad edasi ja mina lähen tuppa.

Siis näen aknast: naisterahvas on jäänud seisma ja vaatab meest, kes kõnnib selg ees tagurpidi, pea kummaliselt viltu. Meil on tore väikelinn, nagu Prantsusmaal: ilusad vaated, huvitavad katusekarniiside nurgad – mõtlen, et ju siis jäi seda vaatama.

Istun arvuti taha. Uksekell. Avan ukse ja mees räägib kahe minutiga kõik ära: et ta on filmirežissöör William Riead, teeb filmi ema Teresast ning tal on puudu üks näitleja – Max von Sydow’ noorepõlvevariant. Juba näitab arvuti taga mulle esialgset treilerit, suunab laualambi valgusvihu mulle näkku ja kinnitab, et olen täpselt see, keda otsis. Kui suu lahti teen, selgub, et ka minu aktsent on õige – von Sydow on nimelt rootslane.“

Pukk on tõepoolest hämmastavalt sarnane – nagu kaks tilka vett – praegu 86aastase von Sydow’ga, kui too oli umbes 30 aastat noorem. Pika karjääri jooksul on von Sydow mänginud kümnetes filmides, teiste hulgas Ingmar ­Bergmani, Woody Alleni ja Steven Spielbergi käe all, samuti ühes Bondi-filmis.

Pukk oli kohtumisest nagu puuga pähe saanud. Talle koitis alles hiljem, milliste staaride hulka teda kutsutakse: näiteks filmi „The Letters“ operaator on Jack N. Green, kes võttis üles ka Clint Eastwoodi mitu Oscarit noppinud linateose „Unforgiven“.

Kui Pukk perega tagasi Eestisse kolis, andis Riead talle stsenaariumi kaasa: joonis tekstidki alla. Talle anti jesuiidi pastori Celeste Van Exemi roll, kes on samas Calcutta kloostrikoolis hingekarjane, kus ema Teresa nooruspõlves tütarlapsi õpetab.

„Pastor ja ema Teresa kirjutavad teineteisele kirju, sellest ka filmi nimi. Roll oli üsna kaalukas – umbes kümme stseeni ja kümme minutit teksti,“ räägib Pukk. Film võeti 2013. aastal Indias Goas üles paari nädalaga, kohati kuni 45kraadises kuumuses. Enne oli Pukk Eestis professionaalsete näitlejate abiga oma tekste tublisti lihvinud.

„Näitlemist ma ei kartnud, aga kartsin, et äkki lähevad sõnad meelest. See võinuks kergesti juhtuda – juba esimeses stseenis oli üle laua mu vastas supertuntud Juliet Stevenson. Pinged kadusid, kui kuulsin tunnustust: well done. Režissöör ütles, et olen sündinud talent, keda oleks kahju filmikunstis kasutamata jätta. Keegi lisas: hea, et sain esimese rollina püha isa, mitte polnud pätt ja kaabakas – tavaliselt esimene roll kujundab edasised,“ muigab Pukk.

Detsembri alguses jõudis „The Letters“ USA kinodesse ning tuleb tänavu linale ka Euroopas. Menu oodatakse eelkõige katoliiklikes maades. Film on noppinud mõned auhinnad, kuid kriitikud on andnud sellele turmtuld, pidades seda liiga läägeks ja ema Teresat ülistavaks.

Puki arvates on rahulik, ilma tänapäevase virvarri ja asjatu agressiivsuseta sissevaade heategijast naise ellu aga hoopis võluv. Filmi tegevuspaika ja kaadreid peab ta võrratuks. Ilmselt häiribki kriitikuid teose skandaalivaesus ning peakangelase katoliiklik taust.

Millises vägevas filmirollis näeme Pukki järgmisena, ei oska ta veel öelda.


Juliet Stevenson on the rewards of playing Mother Teresa

Actor says she was unprepared for the adulation she received while filming the biopic The Letters in the slums of Calcutta

Juliet Stevenson as Mother Teresa of Calcutta in The Letters.

Dalya Alberge

Sunday 8 March 2015

Famous actors are used to being treated like deities, but Juliet Stevenson was unprepared for the adulation she encountered in the slums of India. When she got into costume to play Mother Teresa of Calcutta, locals dropped to the ground, apparently believing that the Roman Catholic nun venerated as a living saint had been brought back to life to care for the poor.

“I was filming in her iconic white sari with the blue stripes,” Stevenson told the Observer. “People would come up to me, drop and touch my hem … in India, she’s still revered. She lifted tens of thousands of people off the streets and into her care.”

Stevenson is heading the cast of a forthcoming feature film about Mother Teresa, The Letters. Initially, the former Royal Shakespeare Company actress, whose solo performance in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, now at the Young Vic Theatre, has had rave reviews, was wary of taking on the role.

Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 aged 87, became one of the 20th century’s most influential religious figures, although controversial for some. An ethnic Albanian, she founded an international order in the slums of Calcutta dedicated to the disabled and the dying – “all those who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for”, she once said. Pope Paul VI described her as an “‘intrepid messenger of the love of Christ” and she was awarded the Nobel peace prize.

Stevenson said: “It was very daunting, because I’m so wrong for her. I’m 5ft 8in, quite strongly built. I’m not in any way miniature [Mother Teresa was only 5ft].

“I don’t have a religious faith, and she believed so ardently in a God. I also couldn’t differ from her more when it comes to her views on women’s rights, birth control and abortion … But it was a wonderful challenge.”

She watched and listened “endlessly” to historic recordings of Mother Teresa, taking some on location, to perfect the accent and mannerisms: “She was virginal, lived a completely chaste life, and hardly ate. So you’d expect her to be very unphysical. In fact, she was amazingly tactile. She had big hands and a tiny body, and was always holding and touching people,” said Stevenson, who has appeared in critically-acclaimed films such as Anthony Minghella’s Truly, Madly, Deeply and the Bafta-nominated television drama The Village.

Research is an important part of Stevenson’s trade. For her performance as an aristocrat in The Village, the drama series charting life in an English village through the 20th century (The Village: The Complete Series 2 is released on DVD on Monday), she read extensively and listened to historic recordings of upper-class figures such as Virginia Woolf, only to realise that their cut-glass accents were too extreme for modern audiences. “You can’t be absolutely historically accurate if it’s going to be too weird for the audience.”

She said: “I sometimes get frustrated when watching historical dramas on television with actors who’ve made no attempt to make that imaginative journey into the period, and who talk as though they have just stepped out of a London club. It’s compelling to watch when an actor has made the imaginative leap like Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall.”Moves to get Mother Teresa canonised have intensified since she was beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II, who also gave his blessing to the film being made, said writer-director William Riead. Having spent years getting the production off the ground, he is now planning a release this year in the hope that it coincides with her canonisation.

Last year an early screening of The Letters at the Vatican, at the International Catholic film festival, saw its lead actress and director take top awards. Its cast includes Max von Sydow, Oscar-nominated star of classic films such as The Quiller Memorandum, and Rutger Hauer, acclaimed Dutch star of Blade Runner.

Riead was inspired by Gandhi, Richard Attenborough’s Oscar-winning classic, in which Ben Kingsley brought the Indian leader to life: “Juliet has brought Mother Teresa back to life. That’s why the Indian people … were responding to her the way they were.”

The film partly draws on Mother Teresa’s secret letters, published in 2007, which revealed her crisis of faith, the torment of feeling that Jesus had abandoned her. Far from dismantling her reputation, the letters are “one of the arguments for canonising her”, Stevenson said. “She kept going in spite of her personal feelings. She kept her faith alive and she went on doing the work she did in the name of God.”