Juozas Kiselius

Juozas Kiselius

Actor
Date of Birth: 22.06.1949
Country: Lithuania

Biography of Juozas Kiselius

Juozas Kiselius was a renowned Lithuanian actor and a recipient of the State Prize of the USSR in 1983 for his role in the television film "Long Road in the Dunes". He was born in the small Lithuanian town of Joniskis. From a young age, Juozas actively participated in amateur performances, but never seriously considered a career in acting. After finishing school, he dreamed of entering the Forestry Academy and becoming a forester. However, fate had other plans, and in 1967, Juozas unexpectedly enrolled in the Vilnius Conservatory in the acting department. He immersed himself in his studies and soon couldn't imagine his life without the theater. During his student years, he started working on stage. One of his roles during that time was Karl Riips in the play "Own Island" by Estonian writer Kaugver. Juozas described his character as a young mine manager who became not only a friend but also a mentor and educator. This role made him realize the value of qualities such as empathy, kindness, and their different dimensions, and how a person's leadership abilities can determine the line between true heroism and the ordinary.

Juozas Kiselius

In 1972, Juozas Kiselius graduated from the Vilnius Conservatory and joined the Vilnius Academic Drama Theater. His first role in the theater was Charlie in "The School for Scandal" by Sheridan. Juozas dedicated many years to the theater, portraying various characters such as Fenton in Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and Edmund in "King Lear", as well as Jan in "The First Day of Freedom" by Kruchkovsky and Busigin in "The Eldest Son" by Vampilov, among others. His performances were loved by the Lithuanian theater audience.

Juozas Kiselius

Juozas Kiselius began his film career in 1974, debuting as the young and charming Vilimas, a water seeker, in Gytis Lukšas' film "Bubenčik". Three years later, he worked with Lukšas again in "A Wreath of Oak Leaves", portraying Clemensas, a destitute laborer known for his honesty and sincerity. Although this role was not the main one, it played a significant part in shaping the overall tone of the film.

Juozas Kiselius' early characters were characterized by qualities such as openness, sincerity, and kindness, which can be seen in his portrayal of the protagonist in the short film "Green Doll" based on Ray Bradbury's story "The Doll". Speaking about his characters, Juozas said, "Such people attract me with their emotional purity, courage, and conviction. However, I am not talking about heroes. My characters, those often referred to as positive heroes, are simply honest and kind people, true to their words, loyal to their duties, and feelings... And, in my opinion, these qualities do not define heroism; they are the norm for a human being."

In 1978, Juozas Kiselius gained widespread recognition for his role as Arthur Banga, a Latvian man who made a conscious choice and remained loyal to his people during difficult times, in the multi-series melodrama "Long Road in the Dunes". His performance resonated deeply with the audience, and he received numerous letters from viewers. This role became his most memorable and beloved.

Following his success in "Long Road in the Dunes", Juozas Kiselius received offers from directors. However, he often found himself being offered similar roles. Despite his concerns, he approached each role with utmost seriousness, bringing depth to his performances. Among his works during that time were roles such as Anton Sobolev, the first secretary of the regional party committee in Iskander Khakimov's multi-series film "To the Coming Century", and Inspector Zeparin, who tries to help unjustly convicted teenagers in the detective film "Murder at Monastery Ponds". However, these films were eventually forgotten, and Juozas Kiselius remained primarily known for his role in "Long Road in the Dunes".

Juozas Kiselius' last film roles came during the period of the Soviet cinema decline. One of these roles was Rodion in Victor Deryugin's film "Wolves in the Zone". Rodion, a former police captain with a complex life, becomes a liquidator of the Chernobyl disaster, standing up against looters to uphold the law. This character closely resonated with the actor, and his lines in the film, directed towards the marauders, were delivered with great conviction.

The political and economic crisis in the country, along with the collapse of the film industry, took a toll on Juozas Kiselius' health. When doctors discovered a heart defect, it was already too late to take any action. On May 7, 1991, after returning home from a film audition, Juozas suddenly felt unwell. He managed to regain his composure and make it home, where his wife called for an ambulance. He spent three days in the hospital before passing away.

Juozas Kiselius was laid to rest at the old military cemetery in Vilnius. In his hometown of Joniskis, a yearly acting competition is held in his memory, at the school where he studied.

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