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Donatas Banionis

Donatas Banionis

Donatas Banionis (28 April 1924 – 4 September 2014) was a Soviet and Lithuanian stage and film actor and theater director. He has more than 80 credited roles in cinema and is best known for his performance in the lead role of Tarkovsky's Solaris as Kris Kelvin. He was born in Kaunas, Lithuania.Banionis began his career with some films in Lithuanian, but he would later play mainly in Russian language films (although his voice was dubbed by Russian actors). He has also worked outside the USSR like in the title role Francisco Goya of the USSR-GDR coproduction Goya or the Hard Way to Enlightenment (1971), directed by Konrad Wolf and in the title role as Ludwig van Beethoven in the 1976 DEFA-production Beethoven - Tage aus einem Leben. Aside from films, he was a popular stage actor in Panevėžys, where he acted since the age of 17, and which was frequented by Donatas' fans from all over the former Soviet Union. His first teacher was Juozas Miltinis. He acted in Vilnius, in the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre. Vladimir Putin once stated that Banionis' part in the 1968 Soviet spy film Dead Season was the reason why he joined the KGB.
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