Geza Rohrig

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Plaudits Flood in for Son of Saul Actor

Géza Röhrig, 49, a Hungarian-born Hasidic Jew and star of “Son of Saul,” rocketed to fame this year after winning acclaim for his performance in the film, which scored the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. As we soon learned, the man was as remarkable as the movie —— a dramatic take on the Sonderkommando revolt against Nazi overlords.

Orphaned at the age of four, Röhrig was adopted by a Jewish family, who brought him up in their religion. He played in a punk band as a kid, and published articles critical of the Communist regime in Hungary in his high school newspaper. Seeing Poland as more open to dissent, he studied the language and went to university in Krakow. Röhrig finally moved to the United States in 2000 and studied at the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, though he regards himself as Orthodox now. He has also published collections of poems about the Holocaust and worked as a kindergarten teacher in the Bronx.

Röhrig stumbled into the marquee role of Saul Auslander through a passing connection to the movie’s director, Nemes Jéles László, whom he met through mutual friends in New York in 2007. The two lost touch until 2013, when Lázló, who was then living in Budapest, sent the script to Röhrig and asked him for help in turning it into a reality. One thing led to another, and Röhrig wound up as the lead in the film.

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