In Step with Goran Visnjic
December 2001

Croatian actor Goran Visnjic talks about starring on ER as the hunky Dr. Luka Kovac, playing Hamlet and his acclaimed film The Deep End.

Almost all of the stories you read about Goran Visnjic, now in his third season as Dr. Luka Kovac on ER, credit the 6'4 Croatian actor with giving this long-running hit series a badly needed jolt of electricity as its sexy "stud du jour".

But when I spoke with Visnjic, what struck me was how much more there is to this likable kid (still in his 20s), what an accomplished actor he is, and how swiftly he has adjusted to America. We began by talking not about ER and making the audience forget George Clooney but about his firm The Deep End, a psychological thriller The New York Times called "the best American movie of 2001."

The Deep End stars art house queen Tilda Swinton in her breakthrough movie role, with Visnjic as a blackmailer who stalks her. "The reviews are pretty good," he said. Then, sounding like a Yank, he quickly corrected himself: "No, the reviews are awesome."

This summer, Visnjic was in London filming a supernatural thriller called Doctor Sleep, due out next year. "There's a little girl lost," he said, "and an atypical serial killer -who maybe isn't- and my character, Doctor Sleep, is helping Scotland Yard."

ER has become the most-watched foreign TV series in Croatia, although Visnjic's reputation there rests very solidly on his theatrical work. For several years, he has starred on-stage at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival in Hamlet, earning three national Best Actor awards. "We do our Hamlet in a castle right on the Adriatic coast, surrounded by the ocean," said Visnjic. "During the performance, the waves are heard. It's one of the best places in the world to do Hamlet."

He and his sculptor wife, Ivana, live in a house in the San Fernando Valley. "When I have days off, we get in the car and drive somewhere we can see snow," said Visnjic.

"And I really like Chicago," he added. "We go there four times a year to shoot ER. It's a great city." Even in winter? "Yes, because I grew up in a four-seasons place, and we like that."

Against the background of a war on terroristm, I asked Goran Visnjic if the ER scriptwriters were working up any stories about how an actual emergency room would be impacted. "That's a really tough question," said Visnjic. "They don't show the script to us until just before we do them. And since Chicago was out of those events, how could'nt you do a show of that sort without just making things up?" About his character, Dr. Luka Kovac, Visnjic says: "In this third year, he's a little more relaxed, more at peace with his life. But he's going to stay the same guy." Visnjic served in the Yugoslavian Army, and then in the Croatian Army when the Balkan wars broke out. Is he still in the reserves, and might he be called up again? "I'm not quite sure," he said. "Unless something really bad hapens, like in New York, they probably won't call me. But if something that bad happens, they don't need to call. I'll volunteer."