In the realm of international cinema, there are only a select few who possess the enigmatic ability to captivate audiences with their unparalleled talent. Amongst these luminaries, one name has emerged, shimmering with an effervescent charm and an unmistakable cinematic magnetism – Milos Bikovic. Since his breathtaking debut in the critically acclaimed film “Sunstroke,” the Serbian sensation has swiftly ascended to the pinnacle of stardom, leaving an indelible mark on the silver screen.

Bikovic’s illustrious career has propelled him into the global spotlight, where he continues to astound audiences with his artistry and versatility. Beyond the glitz and glamor, however, lies a man driven by an unyielding devotion to preserving Serbian cultural treasures and fortifying the very essence of his national identity.

“When a person battles cold, hunger, and thirst; when their life isn’t at risk; when they shake off all neuroses and anxiety; when media manipulations and daily politics don’t poison them; that’s the moment when a culture starts,” Bikovic stated.

“Culture holds the meaning of life because it embodies the expression of our innermost being, encompassing our understanding of history and art. It encompasses everything humans engage in and experience, setting us apart from animals,” he emphasized. The actor firmly believes that iIndividuals who possess cultural awareness effortlessly connect, regardless of whether they hail from the same nation or different corners of the globe.

“Embracing culture, namely being attuned to its spiritual and artistic aspects, signifies that the differences among people are a precious asset. A culturally aware individual stands as the strongest defense against war, accidents, and conflicts. When people lack cultural awareness, they perceive all dissimilarities as threats. That’s why I consider cultural and spiritual awareness to be a human devotion and the essence of existence. However, it must be noted that this principle only applies to cultures rooted in spiritually substantiated values.”

Culture Editor of The Balkan Voice Milos Rastovic interviews actor Milos Bikovic

Throughout his illustrious career in the film industry, with a packed schedule that has whisked him across various countries, Bikovic has had the opportunity to engage with members of the Serbian Diaspora. Reflecting on these encounters, he expressed his observation regarding the Serbian people’s unwavering hunger for cultural nourishment and their profound attachment to their homeland. He remarked, “These individuals are determined not to fade away. To prevent their disappearance, they must stay connected to their roots, to their homeland. I am grateful that they cherish their culture; they didn’t come to America to abandon their identity, but rather to safeguard it,” he affirmed. He recounted the story of Serbian ancestors who died in the Albanian mountains, highlighting that they could have surrendered to Austro-Hungarian occupation during World War I, relinquishing their names and losing their identity and dignity. “Instead, they chose to fight for the honor of their heritage. During times of peace, we have no right to let go of that dignity due to lethargy, greed, or the everyday political strife. We mustn’t forget that significant part of our history.”

When discussing the importance of preserving Serbian identity and culture, he stressed that Serbian families in the Diaspora should use the Serbian language so the children do not forget it. 

“Today, we may all wear jeans and enjoy Coca-Cola, but the knowledge of figures like Lazar Hrebeljanovic, Dusan Silni, and Saint Sava sets us apart, making us unique. Serbs are like rare birds, and thus it becomes vital for us to preserve our cultural heritage and individuality,” noted Bikovic.

“As a small nation, we have weathered numerous trials throughout history, yet we have managed to uphold our identity through collective consciousness and the preservation of ancient myths, such as the myth of Kosovo. It brings us joy. While many people around the world read Dostoevsky, only a select few have the opportunity to delve into the works of the greatest Serbian writer, Ivo Andric, and even fewer have the chance to explore the writings of Milos Crnjanski and other Serbian authors. Culturally, this sets us apart: we have the privilege of immersing ourselves in exceptional literature and captivating films within our own language and cultural sphere. It is truly a tremendous blessing, one that should be cherished with utmost gratitude.”

Milos Bikovic’s Journey to Stardom

In a remarkable turn of events this year, Bikovic made a captivating appearance in Klim Shipenko’s groundbreaking film, “The Challenge.” Shipenko’s visionary project holds the distinction of being the world’s first feature movie to be filmed in the vast expanse of space. Within this cinematic venture, Bikovic assumes the role of Dr. Vlad, a character whose journey unfolds as he ventures into the captivating realm of outer space for the very first time.

Born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia, Bikovic’s journey into the world of acting began after he completed his education at the prestigious XIV Gymnasium and Academy of Dramatic Arts. However, it was his brother Mihailo, a Serbian Orthodox monk, who played a significant role in shaping Bikovic’s worldview. Influenced by his brother’s teachings, Bikovic learned to appreciate not only the materialistic aspects of life but also the spiritual dimensions. In a candid interview on Agape in 2018, Bikovic revealed, “I got a broader view of life by opening a spiritual eye. Spirituality influences the building of each person’s character and creates their value system.”

Milos Bikovic in The Challenge [ Photo: movie still, Productions YELLOW BLACK AND WHITE}

Intrinsically driven by a fervent curiosity, Bikovic finds inspiration in the legendary figure of Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American scientist and inventor whose groundbreaking work explored the enigmatic power of space.

When reflecting on Tesla’s legacy, Bikovic discovers a profound resonance with the spiritual and ingenious facets of this extraordinary individual. Delving into the depths of Tesla’s being, he mused, “Tesla’s spiritual asceticism and mental strength contributed greatly to his genius. He is an example of a link between spiritual strength and creative genius. We don’t know too much about this connection. But we know that the connection is strong and effective.”

Embarking on his acting career, Bikovic initially took on smaller roles in various television series and films, including his debut in the Radio Television of Serbia series “The Dollars are Coming” in 2004. However, it was his breakout performance as Serbian soccer player Aleksandar “Tirke” Tirnanic in Dragan Bjelogrlic’s film “Montevideo, God Bless You” (2010) that catapulted him to prominence. Based on true events, the movie depicted the Yugoslav national soccer team’s preparations for the World Cup qualification in 1930. “Montevideo, God Bless You” not only became a box office hit in Serbia and the Balkan regions but also earned the distinction of being Serbia’s submission for the 84th Academy Awards.

In 2012, Bikovic portrayed the esteemed Serbian professor and mathematician Mihailo Petrovic Alas (1868-1943) in “Kosta Vujic’s Hat” directed by Zdravko Sotra. Adapted from Milovan Vitezovic’s book of the same name, the film garnered critical acclaim and received the esteemed Golden Knight Award at the Sevastopol international film festival. It was also screened at the Serbian Movie Festival at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016, a significant achievement personally organized by the author of this passage.

Bikovic’s international breakthrough came when he caught the attention of Academy Award-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov, who was impressed by his performance in “Montevideo, God Bless You” at the Moscow Movie Festival. This led to Bikovic securing one of the leading roles in Mikhalkov’s film “Sunstroke,” which premiered in Belgrade in 2014. From there, Bikovic’s career soared to new heights, with roles in notable films such as “Without Borders” (2015), “Soulless 2” (2015), “Ice” (2018), “Beyond the Edge” (2018), “Serf” (2019), “Hotel Belgrade” (2020), “Desperate for Marriage” (2022), and the recently released “The Challenge” (2023), among others.

Puffins Impossible

In 2018, Bikovic had the opportunity to work alongside Antonio Banderas in “Beyond the Edge.” The same year, his portrayal of Petar Maras in “South Wind” captivated audiences, breaking records in the Balkans. According to Bikovic, this particular film underscores how culture has the power to dissolve borders between countries and nations, showcasing the unifying force of art.

Puffins Impossible : Courtesy Iervolino

In a remarkable collaboration, Bikovic’s production company, Archangel Digital Studio, joined forces with the esteemed Italian movie producer Andrea Lervolino and his studio, Lervolino & Lady Bacardi Entertainment, in 2021. This partnership aimed to create captivating short cartoons and animations, bringing forth a new wave of imaginative storytelling in the Serbian cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad.

One of the notable creations to emerge from this collaboration was the delightful short animated cartoon series titled “Puffins.” The series quickly evolved into its thrilling spin off, “Puffins Impossible.”

Adding to its allure, actor Johnny Depp lent his distinctive voice to the character of Johnny Puff. In “Puffins Unleashed,” the tranquil existence of Johnny Puff, Didi, Pie, Tic, and Tac takes an unexpected turn when a meteor crash-lands, bestowing upon them extraordinary abilities. The series quickly garnered attention and acclaim, soaring to become one of the most popular shows on streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime and Apple TV within the first week of its release.

Jonny Depp and Milos Bikovic [ Photo: P. Milosevic]

Expressing his enthusiasm for the project, Johnny Depp remarked on the tremendous appeal of “Puffins Impossible,” describing it as a captivating story that transcends age boundaries with its wit and educational value. Impressed by the remarkable progress achieved within a single year, Depp commended the creative talents hailing from Serbia, expressing his delight and admiration for their ingenuity and dedication.

“Puffins Impossible” is a great story for all ages, witty and educational. I enjoyed working on this project, and I hope it will repeat the success of the Puffins series it derives from. The work that has been done in just one year is simply amazing. I’m delighted with the creativity of people from Serbia,” said Depp.

Milos Rastovic is the Cultural Editor at the Balkan Voice.

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