From Poland to Hollywood. Martin Harris Surprising Life Story
Martin Harasimowicz, born on August 15, 1977 in Wroclaw, known as Marcin Harasimowicz or Martin William Harris, is a Polish-American actor, writer and producer (HarCom Productions) working in both, the American and European markets. Martin, as he told us on the phone, quit his career as a sports journalist ten years ago and began studying at the acting school in Los Angeles. As journalist he worked for “Przegląd Sportowy”, “MVP”, “Playboy” and “Daily Mail”, he also worked for BBC Sports and the world edition of “Four Four Two”. Over time, he became Martin Harris, starting his adventure with stand-up comedy clubs. “I use this nickname for publications in England and the USA so as not to limit myself to the roles of Russians in the United States. It gives me more versatility, and I have to be practical about it.”
Our star was the host and producer of the largest show at “The Comedy Store”. He was a co-host of the popular soccer comedy and sports podcast. The program featured, among others, Justin Bieber, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Carrey, Sarah Silverman, Seth Rogen or Whitney Cummings. He is also author of two books, “LeBron James. Król jest tylko jeden?” [Le Bron James. There is only one king?] and “Los Angeles Lakers. Złota historia NBA” [Los Angeles Lakers. Gold History of NBA] published in Poland. The last one he described as an ambitious book. He speaks eight languages including perfect Russian, German, Polish, English and Czech. He is living between Los Angeles and Atlanta.
He gained experience as a background actor alongside such stars as Tom Hanks or Martin Freeman. His television credits include “Macgyver”, “Days of our lives”, “Scorpion”, “Blue dream”, “Violent Blue”, “Caged Beauty”, “Death Game”, “Startup”. He has recently finished working on feature films “Among the Shadows”, “Odd Man Rush” and “The Hunt”. He performed ADR (automated dialogue replacement) in “Spider-Man”, “Far from Home”, “Black widow”, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, episodes “Power Broker,“ The Whole World Is Watching ”and“ Thruth “. One of his most famous roles was a Markovian doctor in “Black Lightning”. He was a voice of an extremely popular character names Krueger on “Call Of Duty” and, recently, he interpreted a Tower Guard in “Red Notice” by Rawson Marshall Thumber. You can follow him on Twitter: @martinwharris.
How did your adventure with America start? Do you remember your first time in the USA?
I remember my first day in the USA. I moved to Los Angeles in 2008 but I was often in the USA before. First time it was in 1998. I was a young sport writer from Wroclaw, Poland. I got a ticket from my local sports newspaper and pretty much invested from my savings from being, you know, just a collaborator with small weekly sports magazines. I went to New York to cover the NBA star weekend. It was my first time I went to the games where I saw Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant who I met them for the first time. Then, later, he become my friend in life and he was actually responsible for my coming to Los Angeles. In 2000, I went to Indianapolis, in 2001, I went to Philadelphia. Then I was often in New York because I was collaborating with the biggest Polish newspaper in the United States. Since I was 16, 17 to 31, I was a sports writer. It was my full time job. When I was 28, I made a transfer to a new project by Agora from Przeglad Sportowy. They gave me a very good contract. I took that risk. The newspaper did not pay off; they close it from the day to another. It was a big shock to everyone. I got six months of pay, at front, and plenty of free time. I did not know what to do. On my way out, I stopped by the Agora store and I saw a collection of 25 best movies of all time.
This was the moment when the though “could I be an actor” crossed your mind?
Well, I have never thought about movies. I have never thought about acting. It has really never occurred to me. As a kid, I wanted to be a rock star. I had a band in high school but I have never thought about acting. I have been never interested in movies. I have watched sport and games. Therefore, I was sitting home and I was watching these movies. Then it got me! I really liked it! In some crazy circumstances, two years later I started thinking of it more seriously about.
What happened next?
I went to Los Angeles for three weeks. I had a conversation. I was checking out. I met there Kobe Bryant. At the time, he was at the top of his game but not doing so well. There were many media around him trying to ask about it (trade to Chicago Bulls, which he might leave). He remembered me in several occasion in the past, I interviewed him several times, and we got closer. Maybe he used me at the begging as a shield between him and other reporters or he just liked me because I was from Europe and he grew up in Europe. We just had that link. I asked him, I remember I was after a game in November 2007, what I should do. “Should I go crazy and try in Hollywood or should I keep the career I have and be safe?”. He said, “what is your heart telling you?”, I said, “my heart is telling me to try”. He said, “then follow your heart, always”. And I did. I flew in. I stayed in a motel in the middle of Hollywood, dirty Hollywood.
Dirty? Therefore, Hollywood did not what you expected then.
Exactly. Coming to Los Angeles to district Hollywood, you think is going to be all shining and beautiful but no. It is actually a crappie place [Laughing]. I spent my first two weeks in a motel. I had full of dreams. It was a big diction for me because I was doing very well. I worked for tv stations, newspaper in Poland, I had a great career, nice and big apartment in the centre of Warsaw. I took a huge risk. I came here. That was the decision.
Do you often see your family? Do you miss Poland?
Not that often as I want too. Actually, the last time I went to Poland it was April 2011. I was planning to go in 2020 in March because there is a competition that I used to participate as a much younger person, which is National Championship for Basketball Media in Zakopane. You play basketball for 2 or 3 days witch your colleagues from different cities and beat for the title. I won the title five times in the past. I like to play basketball. Unfortunately, pandemic did not make it happened. I had to stay in the USA. However, I am still hoping to come as soon as possible, of course, if I do not have work in the same time. There is a potential of me doing a project in England. If that happens, next year, I definitely will come to Poland.
Why did you change your name?
I have never changed my as writer and sports writer. In Hollywood made a difference for acting also to not to be close of a small niche eastern European roles, and duplicate them many times. Martin Harris allowed me to play German, and Scandinavian roles. I have been doing comedy for 5 years in the biggest comedy club in Los Angeles. I had my show for five years. It was brilliant, fantastic promotion for me but in the same time mentally exhausting. I also used Martin Harris for comedy. In England, my agent pitches me as Martin Harris Harasimowicz If I am going act in England, hope very soon, I will use that one.
Didn’t you want to follow your father’s example, a Polish historian of art and culture?
He wanted me to follow his footsteps. He did. All I remember from my childhood was all family trips to some olds churches or museums. I lived in a cultural family. There was a lot of art and history. I was always the best in my class in history. I was one of the best in my city, 5th on the National Olympics in History. Then I stopped doing it and I became a singer in a rock band, heavy metal. All my childhood was reading book about history of Poland. As a kid, when I was 8 or 11 years old, I was helping the teacher doing classes I was arguably better than them [laughing]. My father taught me to love books. I still love reading. I do that in my spare time.
What were your first roles in Hollywood?
The first production I participated it was “Angels and Demons” and I was still new. I was going to academy during the day, and I was only a feature extra reporter. In acting, I tried to learn as much as possible and I was doing everything. I was working as an extra on movie sets. I learnt a lot from that. My first real role was five years ago in a tv show “The last ship” on TNT. I remember I was in a full comedy mode. I lost my green card and the shooting was the next day afternoon. I begged in Headquarters of Immigration on my knees begged them for replacement of Green Card because I knew if I go in a legal way I will have to wait 2 moths. So much stress. Somehow, I pulled it up. Everything worked out in the end. After this film, I was still doing comedy mainly. The break came two years ago, a tv show star in Puerto Rico I did a film with Martin Freeman. That made me believe and I decided to proceed. Then more booking came through the same year (“Scorpion”, “Spiderman”, “Black widow”, “Call of Duty”, voice of Kruger and more). The 2018 was the best year. I was book in five big movies. Then I booked The Hunt, they extended my role there. The movie in the end did not come out because of the violence problem (some shootings in America at that time) as twitted by Trump that Hollywood was creating the violence. I was heartbroken. I believed it was my chance. However, in the end the movie came out before the pandemic. It was my first big movie credit.
Do you feel complete?
I think the job is never fulfilling. I am always hunger for more. The more you do the more critical you are with yourself and the more you want to explore. I would like to do a movie with some artistic director from other country maybe Korea, Japan or Poland to experiment more as an actor, to find more depth in the role. In the bigger Hollywood production, I usually played Nazis, Russian agents, or military people. It is my niche. However, I would not mind doing something in Europe, hope in England very soon.
Could you tell me a little more about the great actors you’ve played with?
Martin Freeman was fantastic. He was so nice. He made sure to ask where from I was originally. I am from Wroclaw and he shot the movie there with David Cronenberg and had a great time. We worked in Puerto Rico. One of the girls with a small role, locally from there, she told him she was in acting classes and he went to these acting classes. That was the biggest think they could dream about. Ryan Reynolds is great man too. He is a funny guy. You often focus on the work, it’s cool to have a great atmosphere during the shooting but everybody has a different approach. I know Polish actors here in LA that go to lots of events, parties. I am not that type. I’d rather prefer to read a book, listed to the music or prepare for my work. Let the work speak for itself. I do not blame others. It just me. I am not party person. I am working quietly.
When you compare Europe with North America, what are your reflections?
I miss some things from Europe but in the same time, I like many things here as well. It is definitely different, I miss food, European food. I miss more relax. Here I am a little bit anxious working a lot. I like Europe. People there have more time for themselves, for relationships and are more genuine. Although, I have great friend here too. I do not know if I will stay here forever. Probably not in LA. LA is now a little bit in crisis. Homelessness is a major problem. It’s not the same city I remember 12 years ago. It’s much worse. However, I like the weather here. I am in love with Atlanta. I want to spend more time in Europe. I have projects. I want to be ready with the best version of myself.
What are you dreaming of now?
I would like to find a balance between work and life, meditate, and read. I would like to have a family one day, a good family. It’s absolutely on my list. Professionally I would like to do more and enjoy it.
Written by Joanna Longawa
Photo and Photo cover credits: Martin Harris’ Archive