Parents who were educators raised her to be polite and cultured, while she gained courage and heart on the theatrical stage. She gained immense popularity throughout the former Yugoslavia as a young actress playing Šurdina's wife in the series "Vruć vetar", and since then, she has never left the hearts of the audience. In an interview for 011info, celebrated actress Vesna Čipčić recalls her beginnings, recounts a priceless piece of advice she received from the famous Čkalja, and reveals how she managed, with the help of a single candle, to save her mother and herself from a storm on the turbulent sea. 

Although you were born in Belgrade, you actually started your journey from Kikinda.

Exactly. My parents were teachers in Vrdnik, and I was born in Belgrade by chance when my mom came to visit her sister. Looking back now, although I spent most of my life in Belgrade, Kikinda is still in my heart, as well as Divčibare. 

As soon as I think of that town in the North Banat, I can immediately feel the tranquility that prevailed on the square back then on Sundays. 

Although I couldn't live in such a peaceful environment anymore, it is still necessary for me because that's the only way I can bear the chaos here in Belgrade. 


When did you return to Belgrade?

Together with my parents, I made a circle and settled again in the same municipality where I was born. That area was called western Vračar, where I have been living for the last 20 years. Belgrade, when I was in high school, was the center of the world for me and also a silent suffering. Simply put, Kikinda became "too small" for me. 

Every time I visited Belgrade, I would already feel butterflies in my stomach on the Pančevački bridge because I was entering that big, glittering city. And then, when I passed the entrance exam at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, my great desire to live in the capital came true. 

All in all, Belgrade is my city, which I adore. I think it's most beautiful after a long absence, and that's why I gladly return to it. Although it's chaotic, as I said, I consciously decided to make my home here in Vračar because I knew it would be easier for me and my children because of kindergartens, schools, and universities. 

However, all this hustle and bustle didn't stop me from creating my own microclimate in the backyard of my house, with greenery reminiscent of Divčibare, where I can play freely with my grandchildren. Friends, when they come to visit me, say that here they can feel the Kikinda wind, but also the Dalmatian melody. Honestly, I feel blessed to have found this home, which irresistibly resembles those "elbow-to-elbow" houses in Vojvodina. 

Belgrade then and Belgrade today are quite different. What is it about today's Belgrade that you don't particularly like?

First of all, the pace of life and disorganization. I see that best when I go to Ljubljana. Everything is organized there and reminiscent of the Yugoslavia I once lived in. Living in that peace and organization is something I consider more suitable for today's people and times, which have become insane with all this rushing around. 

That's actually the biggest problem. I can't and don't want to run around anymore. If you can't catch a taxi for an hour to get to an event in the capital on time, then what's the point of all this, I ask you. So, I decided that there would be no more running for me. 

I'm also bothered by the fact that Belgrade is losing its identity and its primary character. I'm against the city's devastation. I look at this wonder of Belgrade on the water. If they were already building it, it should have been on the other side of the river where it's clean. Those tall buildings where skyscrapers belong should go there. And all this concerning the fairgrounds and the Expo and the stadium... I have no words. If only these Belgrade facades were tidied up and lit up a bit, then we would be a beautiful city. Then, when people see that everything is so beautiful and polished, even these ladies who walk their little dogs wouldn't allow what shouldn't be allowed on the grass or the sidewalk. 

Well, hopefully, there will be an end to that. 

I can be happy in my yard, which I keep clean, but it's just a piece of it. When I go outside and see the people, a world that is sad, gray, and dissatisfied... When you meet someone and ask, "How are you?" and they reply, somewhat confusedly, "I'm fine." I want to hear people say, with a full heart, "I'm great. I'm planning a nice trip." I rarely hear that. I'm sorry it's like this, primarily because of the children. Although it's not easy for us older folks either. We've experienced how things can be, but today's children haven't. 


You returned to Belgrade back then for your studies. How do you remember the entrance exam?

Before I answer that, a little digression. I'm someone who, as they say, when I love - I love. And that applies to all situations in life: I still drive with the same passion as when I first sat behind the wheel; I cook with a smile and gusto as when I first picked up a spoon and cooked lunch; I feel the same excitement today when I step onto the stage as I did when I first stood on the theatrical boards. 

Anyway, when I finished high school, I came to Belgrade to take the entrance exam. In Knez Mihailova Street, I bumped into a film critic, Milan Vlajčić, who recognized me from the amateur festivals where I performed with the Kikinda theater. He asked me where I was from in Belgrade, to which I replied, "I came to enroll in acting." Not to take the entrance exam - to enroll in drama studies. 

I must admit that he was a bit surprised by my attitude and told me that you don't just enroll in the Academy like that and that the competition is fierce. However, that encounter with the wonderful Milan stuck in my memory precisely because I enrolled in the Academy just as I had imagined - I just showed up, did my thing, and completed the enrollment procedure. 

As for the studies themselves, I was in the class of Professor Milenko Maričić, who was an excellent and extremely strict acting teacher. And two years after graduation, when I gained the right to perform, at the invitation of the director, I jumped onto the Terazije to play Evica in "Pokondirena tikva," a work I knew very well from my days in Kikinda. When the play ended, I tasted freedom at last, which was noticed by all my classmates. Simply put, I was beside myself with joy because I felt the audience's happiness once again. 

Did you continue to perform at the Theater on Terazije?

Yes, I did. Moreover, I became their scholarship holder and performed in musicals and comedies. However, although I enjoyed that work, after a few years of performing, I wanted to try my hand at other genres. For that reason, I moved to the Belgrade Drama Theater, but not without drama. 


What happened?

Well, the people from Terazije didn't give me the "green light" to move to another theater; instead, they asked for their scholarship back. I asked them if all my performances, which were actually part of the scholarship, weren't unpaid, but they wouldn't budge. However, I was determined to join the Belgrade Drama Theater. I told them, "I'm leaving, and I'll sign with you that I'll perform all the shows at the Theater on Terazije completely free of charge." I believe that was unprecedented among us actors. In the end, they had no choice but to let me go. It turned out that I had only performed maybe two or three shows in that year. The plays were taken off the repertoire because of the blessed condition of the leading actress and the illness of poor Dragan Laković. 

And so, that saga ended with my move to the Belgrade Drama Theater, where I spent my entire career, with occasional stints at the National and Yugoslav Drama Theaters. 

Actually, I learned the real reason why my departure from the Theater on Terazije was problematic only about 15 years ago in Split, where I met Žarko Radić, who was on the program council of the Theater on Terazije. According to him, the theater cared a lot about me and didn't want me to leave at any cost, but they didn't know how to keep me, and that's why the problem arose. 

When did you first appear on television?

I would say it was a year or two after graduating from the Academy when I got my chance in "Vruć vetar" ("Hot Wind"). At that time, many series weren't being filmed and broadcast; there was just one, and the whole former Yugoslavia was watching it. I was lucky to have done well at the screen test or casting for "Vruć vetar" and got a nice role with the wonderful director, Aleksandar Ace Đorđević. 

That series became cult. From time to time, it's rerun on television, not only here. In Rovinj, people stopped me on the street and told me they had just watched an episode of "Vruć vetar" on the local TV station. 


Do you have any anecdotes from the filming of "Vruć vetar"?

Of course. Let's say Čkalja had only words of praise for me, but one thing really bothered him – my smoking. He kept saying, "Kid, don't smoke, throw away that cigarette." It got to the point where I would hide when I wanted to smoke just so he wouldn't see me. 

Anyway, during a break between filming "Vruć vetar," Čkalja went to Sweden for some guest appearances. After he returned to Belgrade, we met again on set. He approached me and gave me a bag. When I asked him what was inside, he just muttered something to himself, and I opened it to see – inside was a set containing a tobacco pouch, a lighter, a cigarette holder, and a small lady's ashtray that I had never seen before in my life. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart, and he just casually said, "Since you're already smoking, you should smoke like a lady." 

Another anecdote... Well, maybe more advice than anecdote, but once when we were talking about upbringing, Čkalja told me that I was "overly polite" in the sense that my parents had raised me to be too nice and that I needed to learn to be a little rude and say "No" to others. It was advice that, as it turned out, was very meaningful to me in life. 

"Vruć vetar" was a series that brought you immense popularity overnight. How did you cope with that?

Honestly, I still wonder how I managed to handle it all. I didn't have anyone to rely on or consult with. I remember politely apologizing and postponing interviews so I wouldn't be on all the covers at once. From this perspective, I really think I handled it well. 

To tell the truth, I had my father's support. He was in love with my work and even wrote plays and directed himself, completing a course in directing and makeup at the National Theater. I remember he saw me off to Belgrade with the words, "I'd love for you to be admitted, even if I die tomorrow." He wasn't an ambitious father, but he felt the charm of that profession and recognized that it was a profession for me. 

On the other hand, dear mother was more than skeptical and constantly wondered how I would manage a acting career, family, and children. Time showed that I could indeed handle it all. 


The general opinion is that actors should be blank canvases onto which the characters they portray are painted. However, you, like your entire generation, privately possess authentic and strong characters.

At first, I wasn't like that; after all, teachers raised me to be a polite and well-mannered person. And whenever someone mentioned how nice I was, as a Vojvodinian, for some time I took it as a kind of flaw. It took some raising of my defenses, which I eventually did. 

I will never forget my father's reaction after my phone call with a producer in which he was present. Dad was speechless when he heard how I addressed that middle-aged producer and reminded me that it was not appropriate for a lady to talk like that. I must admit that I was furious, but then I explained to him that I wouldn't survive in this world and this profession if I had remained polite to everyone as I was raised to be. And that was the truth. 

But my parents really raised me well, and I am immensely grateful to them for that. Although it wasn't easy, I raised my children in the same manner, and I hope the same upbringing will be passed on to my grandchildren.

From the very beginning of your career, you worked with giants of our theater. Who influenced you the most?

Although, like an Aries in astrology, I showed a certain amount of boldness and readiness to tackle big projects, I still had great colleagues by my side, whose support at the very start was no small thing. 

Whether I found myself on small screens, the big screen, or in the theater, I was warmly welcomed everywhere and regularly given advice. And that meant a lot to me, I won't lie. In "Vruć vetar" ("Hot Wind"), my main support came from director Aleksandar Aca Đorđević, Miodrag Petrović-Čkalja, and, of course, the indispensable Radmila Savićević, who was also my colleague at the Belgrade Drama Theater. 


You mentioned that you received advice from them. Do you remember any?

I remember both the good and the bad ones. For example, they criticized me for turning down theater roles. For a while, I rejected significant roles until I accepted some. But then, filming took over, and it didn't let me go: I went from series to movies, from movies to series. However, deep down, I knew that criticism was valid, and I accepted it. At one point, I drew a line and told myself that enough was enough with filming and that I was returning to the theater. 

Looking at it from this perspective, I think that was one of the smartest moves I made in my career. Because at that time, filming series wasn't looked upon favorably, not to mention roles in commercials. It was as if there was a stigma placed on television actresses. If I hadn't turned back to the theater, I don't know how it would have ended, but I'm sure my soul would have hungered for those boards. This way, I interpreted excellent roles, collaborated with exceptional directors, and garnered numerous awards for my performances. And if I could choose again, I would do the same. 

Today, when I find myself in the role of an advisor, I always tell young colleagues to play a few roles in series, establish their place in the audience, and then seriously step onto the theater stage. Because we're a small country, and not many series are filmed here, let alone quality female roles. 

Your talent isn't limited to acting and singing, is it?

Up until about ten years ago, I painted intensively. For example, while attending high school, I also took a sewing course. Also, for 40 years now, I've had a license to operate boats up to three tons and regularly venture out into the open sea in my rubber boat with a motor, experiencing incredible adventures. 


During one of them, things got really hairy.

Yes, indeed. It happened halfway across the channel from Portorož to Kanegra, over Savudrija. My mother and I encountered a terrible storm in the boat, which came to a halt in the middle of nowhere. Rain was filling the boat, and we were sitting waist-deep in water. Somehow, we had to replace the spark plugs in that rain that was falling relentlessly. I tore open a bag that I had hidden the spare spark plug in and managed, in that storm, to uncover the motor, replace the spark plug, start the engine, and reach Portorož. Members of the Pirate Sports Club came out onto the shore, grabbing their heads, watching who had the courage to drive a boat in such weather. 

Among the more extreme adventures, I can also include flying a hang glider. It's truly an incredible feeling when you find yourself 400 meters above Vršac and, with the engine turned off, fly like a bird. Mostly, these are just some of my interests. I really have a plethora of desires, and sometimes it seems to me that 24 hours in a day are too few. 

In the meantime, you've also ventured into writing.

Oh, yes. For some time now, I've been writing a book about my father, the teaching profession, and a type of school that, unfortunately, no longer exists, which I will, of course, finish. I can't swear when because I've postponed it several times due to getting tangled up in processing my father's pedagogical work, which he bequeathed to the Pedagogical Museum. I spent hours and hours on it, but it's not easy to put it all down on paper, especially since writing isn't my profession. 

Moreover, if the last chapter in my book is about my dad, who left a big mark on me, I don't know how I'll really write it. I'm afraid it will either be too extensive or too short, but I believe I'll find the strength. Honestly, I have no desire to pursue a writing career, but I have a pressing need to record these, in my opinion, very significant things. 


What are you working on today, and what are your plans for the future considering you're very busy even though you're retired?

Together with Milan Caci Mihailović and Svetlana Ceca Bojković, I've been performing in "Women's Conversations" for 40 years, which is truly admirable. Although four decades have passed in the same material, we still endlessly rejoice in every performance, both here and abroad.

I particularly love the play "Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?" at the Yugoslav Drama Theater, based on Fassbinder's film. In the Belgrade Drama Theater, I have roles in plays like "Mississippi" and "The Idiot" by Dostoevsky.

In May, I'm supposed to film a short feature with a director of our origin, who is finishing his studies at the Academy in Munich. What's special about this project is that I'll be playing the role of a mother to my daughter Anja, who plays the lead role.

Also, the sequel to "Crazy Years" has been announced. Milena Marković wrote the script, and filming should start at the end of this season or the beginning of the next, but we'll see. In the meantime, I would love to perform in a theater comedy, but whatever role I get, if it's good, it's my ticket to all possible joys.