How Florin Piersic fought with the bear Țuți in the film “If I were…Harap Blanc”

One of the most beloved Romanian actors, Florin Piersic, once played the scene where he fought with the bear Țuți. Find out how this whole scene took place and how it was all directed.

The film “De-aș fi… Harap Alb” is a parody of Ion Creangă’s fairy tale that appeared on June 26, 1965, during the National Film Festival in Mamaia, and was a real success. The film was shot in the spring of 1964 at Străulești, Buftea and Snagov.

From the cast we can remember actors such as Florin Piersic, Irina Petrescu, Cristea Avram, George Demetru, Fory Etterle, Emil Botta, Liliana Tomescu, Florin Vasiliu, Puiu Călinescu, Mircea Bogdan and Viorel Manta. Lica Gheorghiu played the role of the Fairy, which is also the reason why the film was withdrawn from broadcast.

At the time, the film managed to sell 4,228,784 tickets and was awarded the prize for originality at the 1965 Moscow International Film Festival. One of the most memorable moments was when Florin Piersic, as White Leopard, had to fight his father, who was disguised as a bear.

“We were filming in the field at Străulești. And one day Gopo said to me: ‘Tomorrow we’ll film the fight with the bear. I’ll dress someone up as a bear, but not in one of those coloured furs, but in a real one.” Fine, I say, but who’s going to dress the fur? “We’ll find it,” Gopo replied. Of course, I thought I would easily beat the man dressed in bear fur, according to the script”, Florin Piersic recalled.

fought florin piersic bear
Florin Piersic had a big surprise when he saw that it was necessary to fight a real bear

The moment Florin Piersic fought the bear Țuți

On the second day, Florin Piersic arrived on the set, wearing his costume, while chatting with Septimiu Sever, Nae Roman, Nucu Păunescu and others. At one point, he notices a truck pulling into the enclosure, and the driver gets out and introduces himself as Vântoiu, the circus bear trainer who brought none other than the bear Țuți.

Mister, do you know what was in my pants at the time? “Take her away, give her some sugar, some Virginia tobacco, that’s what she likes,” Vântoiu told me. “Come on, Florine, grab her! Go on and fight with her,” Gopo urged me. The trainer, on the other hand: “Comrade Florin, this is not a dog, it’s a bear, I take no responsibility”. The children had just come out of school, enough mouth-breathers had gathered. Gopo: “You’re the White Harp. You have to show how brave you are.”

Septimiu Sever whispered to me: “If he gives you a handjob, you won’t play theatre for the rest of your life”…I made ten crosses, I took sugar in my hand. The bear approached. He started licking the sugar. I liked it right away! He was also in a good mood, he thought I was burning to play, Vântoiu would shout from time to time: “Be good, Tuti!”. When I finally got out of his arms, I felt like I was born a second time. Then, until the material came out of the lab, I was a bit nervous… I wouldn’t have done the sequence again, at the risk of never making a film again”, the famous actor said.

This episode, like many others in the film, gave Florin Piersic the image of a brave man, a fact also recounted by Ion Popescu-Gopo, when the actor “screaming loudly, runs down the hill and jumps into the well”. After the silence had subsided, “Florin did not come out of the well, which was a pit about two metres deep, lined with straw sacks”. They approached to make sure that he had not hurt himself, but “Florin was standing at the bottom of the well and shaking his hat from the dust”.

“He is gifted with strength and courage. The fight with the bear was a real one. True, the bear was trained, but a caress with his paw could have changed the actor’s career. I could add many examples of courage and training for his excellent quality as a film actor, but Florin is just as good on the limited space of the stage, because he really has talent”, said the director in the August 1968 issue of “Cinema”.

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