Donatas Banionis

Donatas Banionis
Born (1924-04-28)28 April 1924
Kaunas, Lithuania
Died 4 September 2014(2014-09-04) (aged 90)
Vilnius, Lithuania
Occupation Actor
Years active 1941-2013

Donatas Banionis (28 April 1924 – 4 September 2014) was a Lithuanian actor. He 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. 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' play in the 1968 Soviet spy film Dead Season was the reason why he joined the KGB.[1] Banionis died on 4 September 2014 from a stroke.[2] He was 90 years old.

Selected filmography

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  1. "How the Actor Donatas Banionis Inspired Vladimir Putin to Become a Spy". The Daily Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  2. "Soviet-Era Actor Who Inspired Vladimir Putin Dies at 90". Hollywood 5 September 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
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