Directed by Bence Gyöngyössy, Hungarian film The Inventor (A feltaláló), which depicts the story of József Béres’s trial that moved the whole country, debuted in Hungarian cinemas on 6 February. It gives an incredibly authentic picture on life in the ‘70s. To find out more about the film, we sat down to talk with actor Tibor Gáspár who plays the main role.
It is a known fact that you were picked to play József Béres’s character without having to audition. How did you take it?
It was a very interesting moment, because it rarely happens that you get a role without going through a casting process. At first, I was very happy and felt lucky, but later, the idea that I am going to play József Béres, one of the greatest Hungarians of the last third of the 20th century scared me a bit.
Did you have any memories about him?
I was a high school student when his trial began and since only one TV channel and two radio stations existed at that time, we listened to the news in the evening and discussed how Béres drove another little wedge in the crackling socialism the next day at school. Like every young people, we rooted for him. It was hard to imagine then that the system could ever change. This is why József Béres was such a prominent figure in the last decades of the 20th century: his down-to-earth character and love for the nation carry an important message to the youth to this day.
Do you think you could identify with his character?
Let the audience be the judge, but I think we could show something about the essence of József Béres’s life that was very important in the past and is still actual now. I could probably convey his perseverance, endurance, trustworthiness, humour, and love for people. He was a very complex character with a quality life in the countryside. He did researches, worked on the field, listened to opera, went to theatre, experimented with mice, and dealt with people. For me, he is still an outstanding example. I kept this memory of him even though the film was shot two years ago.
The Inventor’s cast tells a recent, meaningful story to the viewer. Did that influence the atmosphere during the shooting of the film?
Of course it was lingering in the air, because we did not shoot a mild love drama that could take place anywhere from Buenos Aires to Tokyo, but a story about a Hungarian man and the Hungarian society. The whole cast knew that we were to show a slice of Hungary’s past that was very important, and started something that later evolved into a regime change.
Who is The Inventor addressing?
Many people will come to watch the movie who were personally involved in József Béres’s drama because of an illness, maybe they were his frequent visitors, or a family member of theirs were in direct contact with him. I would be happy if, between two American movies, young people would also come see this really up to par Hungarian film in which not only the story and the actors are Hungarian but the music and filming locations too. The film really makes you feel good for belonging to this country.
You’ve portrayed more than 200 characters throughout your career. Where is József Béres in the imaginary list of your favourite roles?
Earlier I said that I felt very lucky to be cast. I would like to add that when we were shooting the film, I was 60 years old. At 60, one usually feels that his life and career aren’t on the rise, but I’ve been given an amazing gift. I intentionally do not want to make a list because whichever role I am thinking or talking about is my actual favourite, but I can assure you that this film is definitely in my top 3.