Return of the native
March 2001
In Style

ER's Goran Visnjic, back home in Croatia, takes us on a personal tour of Dubronvik.

"No one gets it on the first try," says Goran Visnjic, the pulse-quickening ER star, of his consonant-rich last name. But the fact that the native Croatian actor hasn't shed his tongue-twisting surname says plenty about his love for his hertiage and homeland.

"People don't know that Croatia is such a beautiful and interesting country, rich in details," says Visnjic, who was born in Sibenik, a small town on the Adriatic coast that boasts a thriving theater community. He went on to study acting at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb and then caught Hollywood's eye with his cimematic debut in 1997's Welcome to Sarajevo, a film about the ravages of war in nearby Bosnia.

"It was surreal because my country was in a war too," he says of the long conflict in which Dubrovnik was repeatedly bombed. When Visnjic, 28, landed the role of Dr. Luka Kovac on ER two years later, he and his wife, Ivana, a sculptor, somewhat reluctantly relocated to Los Angeles.

"I like L.A., but I miss everything about my country," he says. To quell bouts of homesickness, the TV doc returns to Croatia each July to play Hamlet in Dubrovnik's Summer Festival, a celebration of theater, music, and dance. (Last year marked his seventh performance.) One these pages, Visnjic shares his favorite photographic moments from his most recent visit to the coastal city.

"Everyone should go and explore," he says. "I'll tell you what exactly you must do there."