Jerzy Stuhr

Jerzy Oskar Stuhr (Polish pronunciation: [ˈjɛʐɨ ˈʂtur]; born 18 April 1947) is one of the most popular, influential and versatile Polish film and theatre actors.[1][2] He also works as a screenwriter, film director and drama professor. He served as the Rector of the Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Kraków for two terms: from 1990 to 1996 and again from 2002 to 2008.

Jerzy Stuhr
Stuhr in 2018
Jerzy Oskar Stuhr

(1947-04-18) 18 April 1947
OccupationActor, Director
Years active1971–present
ChildrenMaciej, Marianna

Life and career

Stuhr was born in Kraków.[1] His ancestors, Leopold Stuhr and Anna Thill, migrated within Austria-Hungary from Mistelbach to Cracow shortly after their wedding in 1879.[3]

Having obtained a degree in Polish literature from the Jagiellonian University in 1970,[2] Stuhr spent the next two years studying acting at the Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Kraków (Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Teatralna often shortened to PWST),[2] where he became a professor.

From the early 1970s, Stuhr appeared in Polish theatre and worked in film productions, making his debut with the role of Beelzebub in Adam Mickiewicz's Dziady directed by Konrad Swinarski.[1]

Having met film director Krzysztof Kieślowski in the mid-1970s, he continued to work with him until Kieślowski's death in 1996. To an international audience, Stuhr may be best known for his minor role as thick-witted hairdresser Jurek in Kieślowski's Three Colors: White, in which he starred alongside Julie Delpy, Janusz Gajos, and Zbigniew Zamachowski. In Poland and nearby countries, he is probably best known for the part of Max in Juliusz Machulski's 1984 dystopian cult comedy Seksmisja (one of the most popular Polish movies), and – to a younger audience – for lending his voice to the talking donkey in the dubbed Polish version of the Shrek trilogy. Other important films include Kieślowski's The Scar (Blizna, 1976), Camera Buff (Amator, 1979) and Part 10 of The Decalogue series (1988), Machulski's Kingsize (1987), Kiler (1997) and Kiler 2 (1999), and Zanussi's Life for Life (1988). Stuhr also worked with Polish directors Agnieszka Holland, Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Zanussi.

In 1985, Stuhr made his own directorial debut staging the Polish version of Patrick Süskind's play The Double Bass, in which he also played the (only) role. In spite of the production's success, it was not until 1995 that Stuhr began directing films as well, with List of Adulteresses (Spis cudzołożnic) based on a novel by Jerzy Pilch. Critics favourably compared his next effort Love Stories (Historie miłosne, 1997) to Kieślowski's work. The film consists of four unconnected episodes with Stuhr playing the lead role in each. Further movies directed by Stuhr are Big Animal (Duże zwierzę, 2000 – based on a Kieślowski screenplay), and Tomorrow's Weather (Pogoda na jutro, 2003). For these two, Stuhr employed the Polish alternative rock band Myslovitz who composed the title tracks and also had walk-on roles in the latter. In an interview with The Krakow Post Stuhr admitted that Italian cinéaste Nanni Moretti influenced his approach to filmmaking.[4]

From 1990 to 1997, and again from 2002, Stuhr held the position of rector at the Kraków National Drama School, where he had learned his craft two decades before. He formally obtained the title of professor in Dramatic Arts in 1994.[1]

Stuhr's son Maciej (born 1975) is an actor in his own right, who has played alongside his father in Kieślowski's Decalogue X (1988), Pogoda na jutro (2003), and Love Stories (1997).[5] His daughter, Marianna (born 1982) is an artist, painter.

In 2004 he was a member of the jury at the 26th Moscow International Film Festival.[6] He is the chairman of the board of supervisors at Cracow's Józef Tischner Children's Hospice and has been a supporter of this foundation since 2004.

He was head of the jury of the 2nd Odessa International Film Festival which took place in Odessa from 15 to 23 July 2011.[7]

He has worked with RMF FM and has also written books such as Escape forward! (Ucieczka do przodu !) and The Stuhrs: Family Stories' (Stuhrowie: Historie Rodzinne).

In Autumn 2011 Stuhr suffered what he thought was a severe throat infection, but eventually he was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. He spent most of the following eight months in hospitals in Gliwice, Kraków and Zakopane, undergoing treatment including surgeries, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. His daughter, herself a cancer survivor, advised him to write a diary to keep himself mentally busy during that difficult time. In 2012 it was published by Wydawnictwo Literackie publishing house under the title Tak sobie myślę... (which roughly translates as So I am thinking...). His illness was widely covered by Polish media, and he received feedback from cancer patients around the country for whom his openness was comforting. Eventually he described his cancer as "the most important role of my life".[8] As of April 2013, his cancer is in remission and he resumed both stage and voice acting.

Awards and recognition

11 November 1997, by decision of President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, in recognition of his prominent addition to Polish national culture Jerzy Stuhr was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.

12 November 2008 he received Złota Kaczka (Golden Duck) being chosen the century's best actor of comedy.

Stuhr was appointed to the European Film Award for his fourfold role in Love stories. He is a laureate of the Venice Film Festival. He also has received numerous other Polish and international awards in recognition of his work, including:

Voice acting

Jerzy Stuhr became very popular with younger viewers after he provided the voice for Donkey in the Polish dubbed version of Shrek (as well as in Shrek 2, Shrek the Third and in video games, based on the Shrek movies). Stuhr also provided the voice of Mushu the dragon in Disney's Mulan and Mulan 2, and for the Larry Laffer character in Larry 7 game.



Polish title English title Year Role
Habemus papamMamy papieża We Have a Pope 2011 Marcin Rajski
Korowód Twists of Fate 2007 The Rector
Il caimano 2006 Jerzy Sturovsky
Persona Non Grata 2005
Arie 2004 Israel Arie
Pogoda na jutro Tomorrow's Weather 2003 Józef Kozioł
Show 2003 Boss
Weiser 2001
Duże zwierzę Big Animal 2000 Zygmunt Sawicki
Vita altrui, La The Other's Life 2000
Down House 2000 Gen. Ivolgin
Tydzień z życia mężczyzny A Week in the Life of a Man 1999 Adam Borowski
Kilerów 2-óch 1999 Ryba
Kiler 1997 Ryba
Historie miłosne Love Stories 1997 The teacher/The priest/Col. Matałowski/Zdzisio
Matka swojej matki Mother of mother 1996
Spis cudzołożnic List of Lovers 1995 Gustaw
Trzy kolory: Biały Three Colors: White 1994 Jurek
Uprowadzenie Agaty Hijacking of Agata 1993 Agata's Father
Życie za Życie Life for Life: Maximilian Kolbe 1991 Prałat
Dekalog X Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Goods 1989 Jerzy
Obywatel Piszczyk Citizen Piszczyk 1989 Jan Piszczyk
Déjà vu 1990 Johnny Pollack
Kingsajz King Size 1988 Nadszyszkownik Kilkujadek
Pociąg do Hollywood Train to Hollywood 1987 The Director
Bohater roku Hero of the Year 1987 Ludwik Danielak
Luk Erosa Cupid's Bow 1987 Stanisław Cięglewicz
Przypadek Blind Chance 1987
Śmierc Johna L. The Death of John L 1987 Coalminer from Bytom
Ga, Ga - Chwała bohaterom Ga-ga: Glory to the Heroes 1986
Ucieczka Escape 1986
Medium 1985 Georg Netz
O-bi, O-ba – Koniec cywilizacji O-Bi, O-Ba: The End of Civilization 1985
Rok spokojnego słońca The Year of the Quiet Sun 1984 Adzio
Seksmisja Sexmission 1984 Maksymilian 'Maks' Paradys
Dziady (TV) 1983 Belzebub/Master of Ceremonies/Valet
Matka Królów Mother of Kings 1983
From a Far Country From a Far Country: Pope John Paul II 1981 Engineer
Wojna światów - następne stulecie The War of the Worlds: Next Century 1981
Spokój (TV) Peace 1980 Antek Gralak
Aktorzy prowincjonalni Provincial Actors 1980
Ćma The Moth 1980
Szansa Chance 1980 Zbyszek Ejmont, history teacher
Wizja lokalna 1901 Inspection of the Crime Scene 1901 1980
Amator Camera Buff 1979 Filip Mosz
Bez znieczulenia Without Anesthesia 1978 Jerzy Porębowicz
Wodzirej Top Dog 1978 Lutek Danielak
Blizna The Scar 1976 Bednarz's assistant
Przyjęcie na dziesięć osób plus trzy (TV) Guest in front of Employment Agency 1973
Trzecia część nocy The Third Part of the Night 1971 Laboratory assistant

Director and screenplay writer

Polish title Year English title
Korowód 2007 Twists of Fate
Pogoda na jutro 2003 Tomorrow's Weather
Duże zwierzę 2000 Big Animal
Tydzień z życia mężczyzny 1999 A Week in the Life of a Man
Historie miłosne 1997 Love Stories
Spis cudzołożnic 1995 List of Lovers


English title Year Role
Mulan 1998 Mushu
Shrek 2001 Donkey
Scary Godmother Halloween Spooktakular 2003 Harry
Mulan 2 2004 Mushu
Shrek 2 2004 Donkey
Shrek the Third 2007 Donkey
Shrek Forever After 2010 Donkey Smurfs (film) 2011 Gargmamel


  1. "Jerzy Stuhr profile". Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  2. "Jerzy Stuhr – Biografia". Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  3. Burkot, Stanisław (4 April 2009). "Wrastanie w Kraków" (in Polish). Archived from the original on 17 October 2010.
  4. "An Interview with Jerzy Stuhr". Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  5. Dominika Dębek and Dorota Smoleń. "Maciej Stuhr Biography" (in Polish). Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  6. "26th Moscow International Film Festival (2004)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  7. "Jerzy Stuhr heads Odessa Film Festival jury".
  8. Jerzy Stuhr, Tak sobie myślę, Wydawnictwo Literackie: Kraków 2012.
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