Polish-born Dagmara Domińczyk, who stars in “Succession” as Karolina Novotney, the head of PR for Waystar Royco, embraces her Eastern European heritage in the upcoming animation “My Love Affair With Marriage.” Directed by Signe Baumane, also behind 2014’s “Rocks in My Pockets,” the film – inspired by Baumane’s turbulent past relationships – will premiere at Tribeca and Annecy.
New Europe Film Sales is handling sales at the Cannes Market, alongside Un Certain Regard title “Godland,” Berlinale premieres “Beautiful Beings” and “A Piece of Sky,” as well as two other animations, “The Peasants” and “Yuku and the Himalayan Flower.”
The actor, who voices main character Zelma, torn between traditional views on marriage, a women’s role and her own happiness, felt “an instant connection” with the Latvian animator.
“We understood each other. We both come from the Eastern Bloc – it’s something we have in our genes, in our DNA. For Signe, it was important to find someone with similar roots and intimate knowledge of this world and this culture,” says Domińczyk.
“Also, my love for acting started with me reading out loud in English to practice my accent. In a way, it was like going back to how it all started for me.”
Despite the film’s autobiographical, highly personal elements, she never intended to mimic Baumane, instead trying to embrace the “warped, bizarre, beautiful fairytale” aspect of the story. Michele Pawk and Matthew Modine are also in the cast.
“Signe really wanted it to be lyrical. She allowed me to create my own Zelma,” she adds.
“She is so fucking brave to reveal and unpack all these things about love and marriage that are ugly and strange, and complicated. This script was full of honest, brutal truths about what it means to be a woman. I can’t wait to show it to all my girlfriends, but also to my 16-year-old son.”
Baumane, alongside her partner and collaborator Sturgis Warner, chose Domińczyk after coming across a video of the actor reading an excerpt from her novel “The Lullaby of Polish Girls,” published in 2013.
“Instantly, I was transported into her world. I wasn’t sure if it was because she was such a good actor, such a good writer or because the novel [following three friends forced to deal with immigration, love affairs and a shocking tragedy] felt so close to home,” she tells Variety, comparing Domińczyk to “Atlas, carrying the weight of the film on her shoulders.”
“She had to convey Zelma’s strength, but also her naiveté and vulnerability. Dagmara’s voice became a guide for my animation. It informs the way the character moves.”
Domińczyk’s family moved to the U.S. when she was a child, but she remained sandwiched between two worlds.
“I was raised in a Polish home, spent all my summers in Poland, but I used it to my advantage. In Poland, I felt different – in a good way. In the U.S., I decided to own my ‘Polishness.’ I never hid it and I never felt embarrassed of it,” she says.
“My mother cleaned houses for a living, my dad was a cab driver. I was used to going without things as a kid and it didn’t bother me. Later, it translated into my career. I would say that 90% of it is guided by the material and the people who are involved, not by how much money I am going to make.”
Apart from her acclaimed turn in HBO’s smash as Novotney, Domińczyk – who made her feature debut in 2000 “Keeping the Faith” – was recently seen in David Simon’s miniseries “We Own This City” and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s drama “The Lost Daughter.”
“Right now, in my 40s, I am getting really wonderful roles. But there was a good chunk of time when I was a mom and my husband was a movie star, and I followed him with our little boys,” she says. Domińczyk is married to actor Patrick Wilson.
“For most of my career, I never played foreigners. But there were other things that kept me from fitting into this ‘Hollywood image,’ like the fact that I am not super skinny. That used to be problematic.”
“Now, I am getting more and more scripts where it doesn’t just say: ‘45, dark blond, chubby.’ It’s not about physicality anymore – it’s about what you bring to the table,” she adds.
“In a small way, it helped me: I no longer feel like I have to be a size two. Maybe with knowing that comes a certain confidence. And confidence is exciting to people.”