A Tribute to Žarko Laušević: a Remarkable Artist and Dear Friend

The older I get, and with the time and space to reflect on life, everything fits in a way that is hard to describe. This morning’s news of Žarko Laušević passing has shaken me to the core because he was not just one of the greatest actors from our homeland, but also a dear friend.

As if by some strange coincidence (which I don’t actually believe in), I was looking through old documents and pictures, which those of you who follow my Instagram stories may have seen the other day. There was a picture of my mom and Žarko, who always gave her credit for signing him up for a reciting contest, which was the beginning of his very successful acting career later on.

Because of their friendship, and while I was doing my graduate studies here in New York, I had an opportunity to spend time with him alone, interview him, and ask questions. It was for my Psychology class called Telling Lives… I grappled so much with “coincidences” even back then, but as a very good student, I captured it all on audio and on paper, and even translated it into English.

My fascination with what Žarko was saying was insatiable because he was not just one of our greatest actors, but an artist through and through. He painted beautifully and wrote so well too, which now everyone knows as he published his memoirs.

He was loved by so many, which was obvious to anyone who ever was blessed to be around him. My heart especially aches for his family and friends who loved him dearly.

From the conversations I had with Žarko Laušević, New York, October 2002:

“On the first class meeting, a professor of Latin from my hometown asked: what is your name, when were you born, where were you born, and why? That was like a question from a teller asked so quickly that those who were asked had no time to think about it very much. 

You sit in the first row, it’s your freshman year of High School, before the frightful judge of the frightful and new authority, and you recite at least the things you know for sure – the name, the date, the place… then, dragging the talk about the place of birth, starting with the country, the republic to the smallest communities, hospitals, streets, hoping that while doing so, you would find an acceptable answer to the last part of his question – why were you born?

And then you shut up, at the end, ashamed of this lack of knowledge.

In some ways, later, you end up dragging discussions about biographical details that are, thank God, a choice of some higher power, while running away from a single deliberate question that an old professor asked.”

Rest in Peace, dear Žarko. You have given us all so much and your work and art will surely live on.