Part of project “Tireless People under 40”
Hristo Petkov – age 39
The first thing I associate Hristo with nowadays is chess or FIFA on his phone. You tell him something, he simulates listening. And every time you are very interesting to him, but first he will finish playing his chess and then will give you his attention. This FIFA, chess and Liverpool are the things that can drive you crazy around him. But if we put them aside, he is one of my closest people, and our history has been written for nearly twenty years. I included him in this project “Tireless People under 40”, because he catches the last train – in four months he will turn 40. And this will be his gift for the anniversary, not just the text, but the photos here as well. I have promised him that I will take the best photos of him and I hope I have succeeded. I wonder where to start the story, because in the last twenty years millions of things have happened. I have fought with him only once at NATFA. I was annoying him and he attacked me. We fought in the lobby in front of everyone.
Before NATFA, he had lived in the Netherlands. He knew English and Dutch, and he had a Cambridge diploma. He turned out a smart boy. To me, it was very exotic. After returning to Bulgaria, he had to study one more year of secondary education, because this last year was not recognized in Bulgaria. I do not know why. So he decided to study it at a school with theatre classes. Not by chance, since in the Netherlands he had written poems and won awards. Besides applying to NATFA, he also applied to Sofia University with major Philology. He got admitted to both places. As I said – a smart boy who turned out talented as well. He chose NATFA. And so we met in the class of Professor Nadezhda Seykova. The Academy builds lasting relations with the people you become close to. It is normal because you spend the years with these people from morning to evening, even at night. We established our triad – Hristo, Zachary Baharov and I. Many things changed since then, but my friendship with Hristo remained. We have many memories from the academy. I had the confidence of the best person to invent etudes, and the best one playing them. I was kind of a favourite. The professor gave us a fragment from the Russian classics. The character that we were supposed to play was a puffed-up mincing idiot – a character role. The whole class was divided into pairs and all men had to play this character. The best one would play it at the exam. I was sure it would be me. I kept repeating that I would be the winner. The day of the show came and Hristo blew me and all the men in the class away. He was exceptionally funny. He was the one playing that character at the exam, not me. But since then, it has become apparent that he has great comedian talent. He can be very funny. I have watched him in many such roles before. Now, people see him more in serious roles, in which he is also very good, but if he happens to play something funny, go see him, you will rediscover him.
My first most exciting adventure in the world also happened with him. We went to visit uncle Plamen, his father, who was an ambassador to Islamabad, Pakistan. He arranged us also a trip to India. Dear God, the things that happened to us and the things we did. The embassy was huge and very nice with a big yard. But we could not leave it because this was a year after the New York attacks. We could not go anywhere without a driver. The three of us visited the hottest spots among the Talibans. Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and all the villages around these cities. Everywhere Talibans. Uncle Plamen did not mince his words with them, he did not care much for them. And since he was brave, we were not scared either. Well, we were constantly scared, but in an adventurous way. We were afraid of all the machine guns, beards and harsh looks around us, but also curious. They had not seen white people live, and if they saw such on television they were presented as their biggest enemy. So Hristo and I were automatically their enemy. The looks they cast us. Once we asked his father’s secretary, a local Pakistani, to show us around. This happened without the knowledge of uncle Plamen. We had a great day with this young man’s friends, who had heartbreaking stories. Who fled from where, what wars participated in. In the afternoon, at the embassy, we got the wrath of the ambassador. He was very worried and thought it was his secretary’s fault. It took us a week to convince him that we were the guilty ones. Then we left for India. I will not talk about that. I have a short film. I made it then. Very funny. If you want to laugh, watch it. See what loons we were.
After that we both went in different directions professionally, but we were always close. I joined the National Theatre and he joined Sfumato Theatre. He spent about 10 years there, playing many things, but also giving a lot of himself. The productions they put there are not easy, on the contrary. Long rehearsals, constant revisions of the productions, even after their premieres. He took everything from there and after those ten years he joined the National Theatre. Then the second phase of his career began. He started shooting in movies and series, he started playing in productions of different genres with different directors.
One of our most recent shared experiences was the shooting of the series “Devil’s Throat”. We played brothers there. Since I am friends with the producer Evtim Miloshev, I did not audition for my part. But Hristo went to a casting. He auditioned for another role. I knew they might take him, but I did not know exactly for which role. I read the script and realised that the two brothers should love each other and be very close. Only then the drama in the series would be real. It should be obvious that despite their different destinies they were true brothers who grew up together. In cinema, everything stands out. You should not play it too much and then it would turn out good. There should be a right situation of the relationships between the actors, which would be used in the shooting and the story. Since I have been close with the producer for a long time, he knew about my friendship with Hristo. He knew almost everything and called him Itska. So, being a good producer, he made the right decision. Hristo would play Asen, Philip’s brother. This was really the most logical thing, and it was going to be easy for us, in fact we would have nothing to play, our past would do the best work. Shooting started and we went to Smolyan. I will tell you two stories. The first – we had a fight scene in the seventh episode. The director was worried how this fight would happen and there was a risk it might turn out fake. We heard that stunts were to be called out. Then we intervened and said we would do it real, by ourselves, without rehearsal and training. They were sceptical, but we convinced them. On the day of the shooting, as we travelled to the set, we agreed about how to do it. We based it on our fight over a decade ago in the lobby of NATFA. I did not worry at all, neither did Hristo. I know he will protect me, he also knows I will protect him. The camera started rolling. We told the cameraman and the director in advance where we would fall, how far we would go and how long approximately it would last so they could start the car with our father. They understood our setting, we got ready and started. The team thought something had happened and we were fighting for real. It turned out very authentic. Everyone was pleased. Hristo and I, we had small wounds from the gravel on the ground. Then we told ourselves that this could happen only between me and him. I would not place such trust on anyone else. The other thing I will tell you about is the final scenes. I started nagging at him a month earlier. I told him everything was about proving ourselves. To show what actors we are and what school we represent. Since in his spare time he was playing tennis, cycling, going to the spa at our wonderful Orlovets Hotel in Pamporovo, while I was shooting all day, I did not get the impression that he was preparing for these scenes. So I was nagging at him. On the day of shooting the scene with his mother, I got up early and, without him knowing, I went to the psychiatric clinic in Smolyan, where the shooting was happening. I wanted to watch him. I was very worried and I very much wanted him to do it great. I watched him on the monitor, he did not know, and I cried a lot. Not only because he played it very good, but because I was proud of him, I was proud that we had studied together, that we had developed together as people and as a way of thinking, and that we were friends. I was already sure the series was very good. During the broadcast, when everyone was wondering who the killer was, I wanted them to see the final episodes because of these scenes, and I knew the viewers would love them. After the series finale, people were talking a lot about Hristo. Somehow they noticed him, not the theatrical audience, as it was before, but the whole of Bulgaria. Hristo did a very good role in one of the best series.
I happened to meet uncle Plamen in the garden at “The Deceased” (he is now a consul at our embassy in Istanbul) and asked him if he had watched “Devil’s Throat”. He said he has it and has not watched it, but is glad it is over because the whole embassy was discussing the series on Friday and no one was working. He wants to sit and watch it when he is out of work.
One of Hristo’s best qualities is that he is always in a good mood. I consider this a very good quality, because I am always in a bad mood and when I see him, he somehow conveys the positive to me, and for at least an hour or two he infects me with it. He has problems, but they are somewhere in the background. The other thing he managed to achieve is his son Konstantin. I think he has inherited his father’s character. Positive with a good heart.
I can write much more, but I will stop because it turned out long. Watch Hristo at theatre and cinema. He will have premieres of two films, and there are many theatre productions with him.
And one request. Please like his Instagram profile – here is the link – because we have a bet that this material and these photos will raise his rating many times over. I just want to be right again.
Supported by NIVEA
Text – Vladimir Karamazov
Photographer – Vladimir Karamazov for #karamazovfoto
31.10.2019 Vladimir Karamazov®