Interview: HOSTEL’s Barbara Nedeljakova

Barbara Nedeljakova

Upon an initial attempt, Barbara Nedeljakova the last name is a real tongue-twister. It looks a lot harder to pronounce than it actually is, and once Barbara tells you how to say it correctly, you wonder how you could have gotten it wrong in the first place. The actress who smiled and told Jay Hernandez that he was now her bitch in HOSTEL was warm and gracious to enough to speak with me at the Chiller Theater convention in Secaucus, NJ on October 27, 2006. Our conversation ran the gamut from her childhood in Slovakia to (of course) horror to French cinema.

JS: To begin with, what is the correct pronunciation of your name?

BN: Well, in my language, it is pronounced NADEL-ya-KO-VA, but I would say that in American, probably the easiest way to say it is NADEL-JA-KO-VA. That is the English version.

JS: So, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and hat made you decide to become an actress? Is that something that you wanted to do ever since you were a child? How did that will come about?

BN: I was born and raised in Slovakia and I moved to Prague eight years ago. I’ve always wanted to be an actress, maybe it’s a dream of every young girl; it is a dream that some young girls like to have. I went and studied different subjects for four years, but I still wanted to try to go to acting school, so I left Slovakia and moved to Prague where I studied acting at the university and I had this dream of becoming an actress come true. I went on many auditions, particularly small parts in movies, and HOSTEL was the biggest part that I got. After that, I decided to move to Los Angeles. But, I auditioned for HOSTEL in Prague because they were looking for some female actresses. My partner and I both auditioned in Prague and I got the part.

JS: You speak English beautifully. Is that something that you learned many years ago?

BN: No, I started to study English about three or four years ago. I decided to work on it very intensively. I went to school for one year where we studied it every day for four hours. This was an enormous change for me, and it helped me to understand English much better than I ever thought. I had a wonderful teacher who was from New York and this was great for me because I could understand the pronunciations correctly.

JS: Yeah, so now you can sound like an irate American on the streets!

BN: Yeah! (laughs) I’m still working on losing my accent so that I sound more like an American.

JS: No! Don�t lose your accent! Your accent is great. I know a few women from Poland who are studying English and their accents are very sexy. Did you find that studying English came to you very naturally? Did you find it easy?

BN: Yeah, I would say that it came naturally to me, but there are still a lot of phrases that I just don’t understand. I have a lot of difficulty watching American comedies because most of them don’t make sense to me. There are a lot of jokes that the audiences laugh at that I still don’t get!

JS: What are your earliest memories of going to the movies? Do you recall being taken to the movies as a young girl? Was there one movie in particular that jumped out at you and made you feel that one day you would like to see yourself on the silver screen?

BN: Well, it’s not that common in Europe for parents to take their young children to see horror movies. And when I was young, my mother never let me watch any aggressive movies that contained a lot of nudity or violence. She was always kind of trying to shelter my when I was a child, so I would sneak a peek at these types of movies with my older brother, usually when my parents were asleep.

JS: What kinds of movies did your parents take you to see? Did you see American films, or movies made in your native country?

BN: Actually, I saw a lot of Italian and French films. One of my favorite actors is Louis de Funes.

JS: Really?

BN: Yeah.

JS: Wow, he was in one of the earliest films I saw in a theater called THE MAD ADVENTURES OF RABBI JACOB. That was in 1974. Did you ever see that?

BN: No, but I saw a lot of his other comedies. The films of Jean Paul Belmondo and American films are the ones I recall seeing. I remember pushing my mother to take me to see movies with ghosts because I really liked that genre.

JS: It is very difficult to get Louis de Funes�s movies here in the United States. He is one of the best-known comedic actors in French cinema, but here he is virtually unknown.

BN: I know! I ask all of my friends about him, but nobody has heard of him. However, back in Europe, everybody seems to know his name.

JS: He died in 1983 at the age of 59, which is a real shame because he brought a lot to the French comedy and probably could have continued for another 10 or 15 years.

BN: Yes, that�s true.

JS: What you think about horror films in general? HOSTEL is a very brutal film. What are your feelings about such movies?

BN: I do like the horror film genre, but there are some movies that do freak me out, you know, films like HOSTEL which is apparently based upon real events. Movies that are very close to reality kind of get to me. I just saw SAW III and it had some things in it that upset me.

JS: Such as?

BN: The scene where they opened up Jigsaw�s head for the surgery was a bit much for me. But, I like ghost stories mostly, though I�m not really afraid of zombie movies.

JS: No? That�s interesting. I saw NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in 1984 at two o�clock in the morning on a 13� television set I had in my room and it really scared me. A lot of people think that just because a film is black-and-white that it�s automatically low-budget and cheesy. Although NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is very low-budget, it still had this overwhelming sense of truth about it, and the film convinced me as an audience member that this was something that was really happening within the context of the film. DAY OF THE DEAD did this even more so, there was an overwhelming sense of dread in that film, though I found DAWN OF THE DEAD to be more light-hearted � I know that sounds crazy!

BN: I also liked Gaspar No�s IRREVERSIBLE and Takashi Miike�s AUDITION, which I found fascinating and disturbing�

JS: Yes, imagine how it makes men feel!

BN: (laughs) I can�t imagine!

JS: The first time we see Eihi Shiina she looks very demure and shy, but as the movie continues we learn how strange she really is!

BN: Yes.

JS: What other horror films have impressed you?


JS: THE SHINING is my favorite horror film.

BN: Yeah, I love it.

JS: Most people either love it or hate it. Are you familiar with Dario Argento�s work?

BN: No.

JS: He is a phenomenal Italian horror film director. When you have a chance, look him up on the Internet Movie Database. His movies will blow you away, particularly SUSPIRIA, INFERNO and OPERA.

BN: He sounds scary!

JS: What do you see yourself doing in the future? Would you like to do stage work? Have you done stage work before?

BN: I used to do stage work back at home, a lot. There isn�t that much stage work available in Los Angeles. I would prefer to do movies. I would like to do drama, and get out of the horror genre for a while. But, if a really great horror film came along, I would love to do it!

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