THE GOOD FELLA OF GREECE: THANASIS VEGGOS
“I work instinctively, I have no talent, just this face. Here is imprinted all the misery, all the adversity, all the pain of the insignificant Greek.” Thanasis Veggos
One of the best comedic actors of all time – the ‘Greek Charlie Chaplin’ – made a living out of playing the every man, putting so much of himself into his roles that his characters often bore his name: Thanasis.
Having starred in over 50 films and roles from klutz to anti-hero, Thanasis Veggos defined the masculinity of a generation and represented everything Greece had to smile about during the ‘50s and ‘60s Golden Age of Cinema. He never studied acting; he was a natural from the school of slapstick and became renowned for performing his own stunts, even the insanely dangerous ones.
Exiled to Makronisos from 1948 to 1950 during the Greek Civil War because of his political beliefs, Veggos fortuitously met fellow exile, filmmaker Nikos Koundouros, which lead to his break in Koundouros’ film, Magiki Polis (1955). It was not until 1962, however, that he would secure his first major role in the anti-war comedy, Hands Up Hitler, and then his star would meteorically rise.
In 1995, Veggos appeared alongside Harvey Keitel in Theo Angelopoulos’ Ulysses Gaze. In 2008, the Greek President appointed him Commander of the Order of the Phoenix.
In 2011, the whole of Greece mourned when Thanasis Veggos’ died aged 84 after suffering a severe stroke. This year’s Greek Film Festival pays tribute to the little big man with five classic films very seldom screened outside of Greece in a special retrospective, from the subversively political to the outright ridiculously hilarious.
This is our small Greek-Australian way of saluting the great Thanasis Veggos, Καλέ µου άνθρωπε" (my good man).