Man, this is like a bomb: I was a gymnastics champion!!!
When I had the privilege to take a picture with Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner, I didn’t mention anything to them. Because they would have laughed much more than they laugh in this picture J)).
Yes, I was a gymnastics champion, BUT… in a movie!
When I started playing in it, it was just a TV movie, and I was just a kid.
“Out of Sight” – produced by Romanian Public Television. With actors I knew since I was a little child, but also with young actors, whom I met at the time.
We were 4 brothers, me – the youngest of the girls. A gymnast. A competition gymnast! Having Nadia Comaneci as an idol.
The right role, I could say, considering that, as a child, I was a real Nadia on the carpet bar behind the block…
I liked the idea, I liked the role and I liked a lot that the producers and the director sent me to have real training in the gym, where I used to learn how to make movements, gestures and simulate starts and landings for the floor exercise. Moreover, on the balance beam, I learned to do various things, even some spins, which for me was a real trick!
Don’t ask me about the uneven bars and the vault, because the screenwriter, after all, did not mean to kill me.
Of course my number on the floor/uneven bars/balance beam/vault was done in the movie by a real gymnast. With me they filmed only the beginnings and the endings, the start and the stops…
When I was going to training, I was fascinated by the work of the gymnasts in the gym. They were just children full of marks on their bodies, with their hands and feet always bandaged, but all the girls were bold, man!
After its success as a television film – it was awarded, in 1986, the Grand Prize at the International Television Film Festival in Prague, they decided to develop it into a series.
The cast underwent some small changes, but I stayed, still playing the role of child of the family and the sportsgirl of the nation.
I was in the national gymnastics team. A great hope of Romanian gymnastics, a miracle, what can I say, the future sounded really good with me J.
For authenticity, we filmed even in Deva town, running with the “colleagues” on the hill, towards the fortress, until we couldn’t breathe anymore.
I even went with the team to some international competitions. Well, we went to the plane, we filmed a sequence, after which we got off…
I was also a gold medalist, climbing on the highest step of the podium. Well, the podium was just… a cube, nothing more, in an empty gym, where we were filming the award ceremony.
The greatest thing was that I got the medal from none other than Maria Simionescu – the famous international referee and federal coach, the woman who, together with her husband, laid the foundations of the gymnastics school in Onesti – I understand that it was the first school in the world with this profile! Cool or what???
I remember that I was really excited about the meeting, because I knew her from TV, from the big international gymnastics competitions. We saw her there, in the area of the “judges” who were increasing the pulse of us, the viewers.
As the film went ahead with the production, I got older. From a child, I had already become a fluffy teenager with a woman’s silhouette.
I had become taller, so I had surpassed my older sisters in the movie.
I no longer looked like a gymnast, although that was still the role. For the gymnastics scene, the costumes girls used to press down my boobs, wrapping them in some sort of a bandage, as there were no young gymnasts with boobs J)). And my hair – at that time very long and thick – was often hidden at the back, if it was not tightly tied in a ponytail.
The actress who played the middle sister had the role of a teenager in high-school when, in reality, I was in high-school and she was an adult already.
To solve the situation, the writer began to put some failures of mine as a sports person, to get me out of the role of a gymnast slowly-slowly.
First, I broke my leg in a mountain camp. There, I had “skied” with my colleagues.
I really liked this role of a victim, because my make-up was all white, I was suffering on the hospital bed with my leg in plaster and I was already thinking about my first Oscar J.
But, beyond the role in the film, I was glad to have the opportunity to witness a real leg operation, performed on a skier who had really seriously injured himself on the slope.
I didn’t faint…
My idol was still Nadia, but no matter the angle the cameras would film, I would have embarrassed the gymnastics caste.
Well, and what do you know, while filming, the Romanian ‘89 Revolution happened. The real one…
Naturally the filming was interrupted. Time did not flow in my favor, because, with its passing, I did not become any smaller or any thinner J.
So, the screenplay solved the problem: the gymnastics national team arrived victorious from some great international competition, but they had a black sheep: me. I went down the stairs of the plane looking down in shame, because I had lost all the medals.
And so, my career as a gymnast ended…
Not long after, so did my role in the film, because my character, from a loser gymnast, becomes a beautiful lady sexy, rebellious, older than I was in reality. And she was rightly called Manuela Harabor, the actress.