The Herald Sun
July 2003

ER star Goran Visnjic tells Robert Fidgeon why he has not forgotten what it's like on struggle street

Plenty of high drama occurs in the final ER for the year, when Carter heads to war-torn Congo as part of a voluntary medical team. Pushing deep into the jungle, he links with colleague Luka Kovac and the two doctors risk their lives manning a crude outpost being used for a vaccination campaign, only to find themselves in the line of fire between warring tribes.

Will Carter (Noah Wyle) and Kovac (Goran Visnjic) survive? Will one be lost? Will they unknowingly carry back to Chicago County General a deadly virus that wipes out half the hospital? So, what happens? Goran Visnjic smiles and shrugs. "We will have to wait until next season to find out, won't we?" he says.

We're seated in the deserted Chicago County General reception area, built on the ER lot at Warner Bros studios in Los Angeles.

Kovac is relaxed. He has the day off from filming for a series of interviews. After four years on ER, the tall, dark-haired 30-year-old Croatian actor knows how the game is played. He's not about to give away secrets.

"I've been very lucky," he says. "I came here from Zagreb and was signed to a very successful show. Very few actors are in regular work. That makes me very, very lucky. Until I arrived here, the biggest thing I'd done was Hamlet back in Croatia. I was 21."

While appreciative of what ER has done for him in terms of money, stability and envied lifestyle, Visnjic is more interested in using his influence to boost his country's entertainment industry.

"Many people envy actors, but they don't realise there's little joy in being an actor if you can't afford to buy food."

His working-class background and battle to prosper still haunt him. His father was a bus driver, his mother a shopkeeper. At 18, he quit acting school and joined the Croatian army. Training as a paratrooper, he volunteered to serve an extra three months during the war with the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

"You do what you can to help your country," he says, seriously.

Married to sculptor Ivana, who he met in Croatia in 1996, the couple live in Los Angeles and go home to Croatia as often as they can.

"But with this schedule, that's not often until we get a break at the end of the season. Then you often want to make a movie," he says "Ivana says I work too hard, but I know nothing else. I spent too many years with nothing not to make the most of it now."