Close-Up: An Interview With Panka Murányi

Rising star Panka Murányi joins us on Close-Up Culture to chat about her acting background, working on Mrs Harris Goes To Paris, moving to Atlanta, and much more.

Hello Panka, welcome to Close-Up Culture. Can you tell us about your background and what led you to the world of acting?

Hello, thank you for having me! I was born and raised in Hungary but traveled a lot with my family ever since I was a child. I was a weird little kid, I always went in a different direction than the other children, and later I got active, loud, and hungry for attention, so my parents took me to an acting studio. I was a chubby girl, who was often bullied in school, so when I experienced acting for the first time it was honestly life-changing. I could be whatever, whoever I wanted to be and it really helped me overcome a lot of issues.

I got my first movie role when I was 14, and while I enjoyed it more than anything, I never really planned on being an actress, since it was always a very unrealistic carrier choice in my head, and was told on multiple occasions to “choose a real job”. It all changed in 2019 when I had the opportunity to go to the Dune shooting for a few days, and it was the first time I have ever seen a set that big. I had the time of my life there, and that’s when I realized that “holy shit, this is what I want to do”.

Your career is still very young, but you’ve had roles in some interesting shorts and features. What have your early experiences of the industry been like so far?

I have days when I hate it, and days when I love it. Being a person who doesn’t handle rejection very well, auditions can be rough, especially because the Hungarian industry is a tight knit. Directors tend to work with the same people over and over again, so it’s hard getting into that inner circle, despite the industry being small here. When I was younger I had a hard time with it, but thankfully now I can just shake it off and move along. The funny thing is, that while Hungarian filmmakers don’t cast me as much, I got almost all of the roles I auditioned for in American/English productions, which I don’t mind at all.

One of your recent roles is in Mrs Harris Goes To Paris. What was it like to be part of that project, and what will you take away from the experience?

Mrs Harris was a very important one because it was my first foreign role. I remember that when I auditioned for it on zoom, I couldn’t get home in time so I found a public toilet in the city and that’s where I first talked with director Anthony Fabian. Weirdly enough he didn’t end the call immediately, he actually found it funny, and I got the role of Portia. I absolutely loved being a part of that movie, it had beautiful energy, the dresses were gorgeous, the people were gorgeous, and Anthony was a great director. Unfortunately, my scene was cut short, but I loved every minute of it and I’m really thankful for that experience.

What does acting bring to your life?

A lot. It’s amazing. I love how complicated filmmaking is from both sides. I still get really nervous before shootings, because every movie, commercial or short has a different atmosphere that I have to get comfortable with. It’s exciting, and nerve-wracking at the same time. 

As well as acting, you have wonderful musical talent. How do you like to spend your time away from acting?

Ever since Covid started, I think I picked up a few hundred hobbies that I passionately did for a few weeks or months. I get bored very easily, so I change things up a lot. In the past two years, I made recycled paper, pressed flowers, learned how to do nails, did embroidery, and beading, got obsessed with plants, wrote songs, sang songs, made jewelry, and a lot more random things. I went to a Waldorf school (or Steiner school), so I think it’s coded in me to do handmade projects. What I keep coming back to is music, I play the harp and the guitar, and I really like to sing. Other than that I watch a lot of movies, hang with dogs, nap with dogs and try to figure out life.

What type of roles and projects would you love to take on?

Luckily I have a face that can be sold as a lot of things, I played a popular girl, a drug addict, a maid, and a young mom, and I enjoy trying out these diverse roles. I would love to be in a period piece someday or play an agent or something badass. I played a maid, “4” in The Invitation, which just came out, and it was a really fun project, it was exciting and different to be in a horror movie. I hope to do some similar projects in the future.

What are your hopes and ambitions for the future? 

I’m moving to Atlanta in December to go to university and study acting, which is huge. I want to try myself out in a bigger scene and start to build my future, and I don’t necessarily feel like I can do that in Hungary. I hope I can find my place there and work a lot, get bigger roles, meet new people and have adventures. I’m excited about this new chapter, and we’ll see what the future will bring.

Follow Panka on Instagram – panka murányi (@pankamuranyi) • Instagram photos and videos

Check out Panka’s IMDb page – Murányi Panka – IMDb

Photos by Linda Lőrincz and Csilla Molnár

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