early November, SCI
FI Wire ran a brief story about Angel, wherein Jeffrey
Bell described what was in store for the folks at Angel
Investigations. "I think what we're going to do
is sort of scatter people, to a certain extent, emotionally
and physically," Bell told them. "We'll be
bullying them and bandying them about for a while, until
they need to come together to fight this horrible Big
Bad that will show up in episode seven, I think it is,
which will be the show right before we take a break
over the Christmas holiday."
Bell added, "So we're kind of putting big, nasty,
horrible things in everybody's way so that they really
are uncomfortable with each other. This way, when they
do have to come together there are a lot of fun and
horrible and interesting things to play. The Big Bad
will be a corporeal force. It's going to be a thing.
I'll leave it at 'a thing.'
Well, ladies & gentlemen, the "thing"
has arrived. It's crawled up from the bowels of the
earth to tear a path of destruction through Los Angeles,
and while we still don't know exactly what it's here
for, we know two things: It's major, and its arrival
doesn't bode well for anyone. Even coldhearted Lilah
Morgan has agreed to help by handing over some Wolfram
& Hart info to Angel & Company. The "Senior
Partners" of her firm have been cooking up an apocalypse
since the dawn of time, but this is not the one they
had in mind, and she's as scared as anyone. In The Beast's
big debut, he not only tossed Connor & Cordelia
aside like used tissues, he faced the combined might
of a heavily-armed Angel, Gunn, Wesley and Lorne, and
made it very clear that they are entirely out of their
league. There's no denying that this is the Biggest
Bad that this crew has ever come up against, and as
it set off a flaming tornado that brought fire raining
down on the whole city, we were left wondering, right
along with our heroes, what anyone could possibly do
to stop it.
So now that we've seen The Beast up close and witnessed
at least a little of what it's capable of, we are led
to wonder about the man behind the make-up. Where do
you find an actor with both the physical dimensions
and the dramatic intensity to convince us that he's
the living embodiment of Hell?
The producers of Angel had to look no further than
Vladimir Kulich. At a broad-shouldered 6'5", the
Czech-born actor has made a career of playing characters
who command respect and don't get pushed around (although
nothing's been confirmed, a project has been discussed
that would see him taking on the role of Thor). Best
known for his role as Buliwyf, opposite Antonio Banderas
in John McTiernan's 1999 Viking epic, ‘The 13th
Warrior', Kulich has attracted a loyal fan base that
is thrilled to see him temporarily joining the cast
of Angel. On breaks from his long days on the set (sometimes
upwards of 16 hours), Vladimir was kind enough to set
aside some time so we could discuss his career and the
experience of being the Beast.
You're obviously quite the commanding presence,
and you've played a lot of very physical roles. Do you
alter your workout regimen to suit the character, or
is it more about generally staying in shape for whatever
"I really don't train physically any differently
for any role. In the past I used to do physical exercise
to help become the character, but what happened was
that the body got ahead of the spontaneity of the work
and so it became a transparent performance. Working
with Christopher Plummer, he noticed that I was lifting
weights because the character was a big strong person.
He said to me, " Why don't you just act strong?"
I haven't picked up a weight since."
That's a great anecdote, and it calls to mind Laurence
Olivier's dismissal of method acting when he worked
with Dustin Hoffman in The Marathon Man. "My God,
man! Why don't you just ACT?" Good point, as the
real art to the craft is portraying something different
than what you already are. So since you don't train
for individual characters, what do you do to stay in
"I did a brief stint as a professional hockey
player and lately have started ice skating again as
a form of nostalgic physical therapy."
Sorry, do you mean you once played professional
hockey, or you had a role as a hockey player?
"I played junior hockey in Quebec. John Ferguson,
the great Montreal Canadiens player, number 22, would
come to watch me play. He was a great fighter, and I
was a fighter. When he became the coach of the New York
Rangers he gave me a shot at the Rangers' rookie camp.
It was a short stint and I ended up in the Rangers'
farm system, got tired of fighting and retired at age
You were born in Czechoslovakia and moved to Quebec
at a young age. Did you stay in Quebec until you moved
to the states?
"No, later I moved to Vancouver and started a
river rafting company near Chilliwack, BC."
What are your impressions of Canada, especially
now that you've left?
"I still love Canada but find it a difficult
place to be when it comes to working in film. Sometimes
you just have to go to the source."
Very true. A lot of Canadian actors move to Toronto
or Vancouver to work, but it eventually leads them to
the U.S. for just that reason. Where were you living
when you got your first paying acting job?
"My first paying job was in Prague. I was a crying
boy who lost his balloon in a small Czech film."
And when did you first decide that you wanted to
be an actor?
"The first time I had to bring my uncle a pitcher
of beer while he was performing on stage I knew that
I would be an actor. I was maybe 4 or 5 years old."
That's understandable -- any job where people bring
you pitchers of beer sounds pretty good to me too. You've
certainly come a long way from a crying little boy to
the architect of Armageddon. As far as I know, this
is the most make-up intensive role you've ever had.
I have to think that the hours spent getting into it
every day and the general discomfort are challenging.
After the number of hours you've logged in the suit,
is it getting any easier to contend with?
"They say that 99% of the actors in California
are unemployed constantly. So bring out the glue and
Good point. And once the transformation is complete,
do you make a point of staying in character? Does it
require a lot of focus to stay that evil and intimidating?
"Once they put the makeup on me and I slip into
that 50 pound suit, I can't help but crack up laughing…
I mean the absurdity of a grown man getting paid for
walking around in that very expensive Halloween costume!
So it's easy to stay relaxed and humorous while working.
And, no I don't like to stay in character between scenes.
I wait for the word… ‘Action!'"
was the casting process like? Was this a role you had
to chase after, or did they pretty much decide you were
the one before calling you?
"They called me in based on my work in the 13th
Warrior. But I still had to read for it. They also told
me that Ron Perlman was up for it. Knowing that just
made the project much more desirable."
And now that you've got the part, how much are they
telling you about the character and the whole story?
Do you know how it's going to end, or are you just finding
things out one script at a time?
"Well put it this way… any time I've asked
questions about the character or his evolution, they
gave me a clear answer. But now I find it more fun to
know nothing. I read the material at the last moment
and just go in there and do it. This way I hopefully
will not fall into the trap of playing the ending."
So when the horns come off, what do you do to unwind?
I'm curious about your hobbies and passions outside
"I love architecture. The older I get the more
sensitive I become to my environment. It's amazing how
space can make you feel good or bad. I like to rebuild
houses and always try to open up the space no matter
how small the building. It's kind of like a stage or
a movie set for me. And, I'm playing the guitar. I never
thought I'd be able to learn to play but it's really
not that hard and it's a nice release to write your
own little song and force it on your friends."
Andy Hallett, the guy with the green skin and the
little horns you've been flinging around the set, is
quite the singer. I could see a lot of commercial potential
in the two of you performing together in your respective
costumes. Can I start booking the tour now?
"You mean like Siegfried & Roy? You mean
I was thinking more like the demonic Simon &
Garfunkel. What did you know about Angel before signing
"I don't watch T.V. so I'd never seen the show
prior to taking the job."
"I think this show is well written for the genre
but frankly I prefer something a little less contemporarily
hip and happening. But hey, who am I to talk?... I shop
at the Gap! But seriously, I see how some of the directors,
like Skip & Terrence have to struggle to make believable
such a fantasy in less than 45 minutes per episode."
Amen to that. It's such a hive of creativity at
every level, so I think they'd be a really exciting
bunch to work with. I've heard that some of your favourite
actors are Sydney Poitier, Juliette Binoche, and Fanny
Ardant. I've always admired the first two, although
I admit I had to do a little research to find out about
Ms. Ardant. Is there anyone else that you'd jump at
the chance to work with?
"The dead ones… Richard Harris, Oliver
Reed… you know, the MEN!"
I sure do. The legendary hellraisers. I'm always
surprised by people today who don't know how fascinating
Oliver Reed was. What a character. How about people
"Robert Downey Jr…. Viggo Mortensen. And
as for the great women actors, don't forget to free
Poor Winona. I guess everyone's got their quirks.
What traits do you like and dislike most about yourself?
"Sooner or later you better embrace it all, or
you will miss out."
What's your vital daily ritual?
"Give Spanky what he needs."
"Spanky is my dog."
Gotcha. How do you spoil yourself?
"I tell myself I was good. Even when I wasn't."
I think there's probably at least a partial secret
to success in that. What do you consider to be a mind-altering
work of art?
"Laser Eye Surgery."
Not exactly what I had in mind, but I know what
you mean. I just got glasses this year and I now live
in a totally different world. Last question: What should
everyone shut up about?
"Smoking in Bars. There are more important issues
like avoiding war."
And with these timely words still reverberating, he
stood up and pounded his mighty fist into the ground,
sending up a terrible ball of fire, and disappeared,
leaving the air thick with smoke, brimstone, and general
good impressions. Thanks very much to Vladimir for being
so generous with his time and cooperative in the completion
of this article.