How Sergiu Nicolaescu and Dan Pița “fought” to get in her good graces: Ileana Popovici, the actress no man could ignore

In the period before the 1989 Revolution, Ileana Popovici was considered one of the most beautiful appearances in our country.

She had a relationship with Richard Oschanitzky, one of the most appreciated film music composers of that time, and later became, one after the other, the girlfriend of Sergiu Nicolaescu, but also of Dan Pița.

Ileana Popovici and Sergiu Nicolaescu / archive image

Ileana Popovici, from the beginning: a complete artist

Ileana Popovici was born in 1946, in Buturugeni commune, Giurgiu county, and is a well-known actress, as well as an interpreter of light music, jazz and bossa-nova. Throughout her career, she has presented television shows, among other things.

In 1964 she entered the “Ciprian Porumbescu” Conservatory of Music in the capital, in the Pedagogy and Music Criticism section.

She worked for years in the cinema, more precisely in the 60s and 70s. Among the films she was part of the cast, we should mention the following: “Reconstituirea” (1968, directed by Lucian Pintilie), “Prea mic pentru un guerra atât de mare” (1970, directed by Radu Gabrea), “Pentru că se iubesc” (1972, directed by Mihai Iacob), “Parachutiștii” (1972, directed by Dinu Cocea), “100 de lei” (1973, directed by Mircea Săucan), “Evening Guests” (1976, directed by Gheorghe Turcu), “Filip the Good” (1975, directed by Dan Pița), “Hot Days” (1975), “Accident” (1977), “For the Fatherland” (1977), “Mihail, Circus Dog” (1980) and “The Mercenary Trap” (1982, all directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu).

After her retirement in 1998, she went to Italy, to Sanremo, but returned as a contributor to TVR International, producing programmes from the diaspora such as World and Us and Cu sufletul casa, but also broadcasts of the Sanremo Festival “Della Canzone Italiana”.

Ileana Popovici in two poses / archive image

The rivalry of the two directors: “I think they followed each other, I had nothing to do with it”

As I mentioned before, Ileana Popovici was, in turn, in a relationship with Sergiu Nicolaescu and Dan Pița, which is why the two Romanian directors did not speak to each other for a while.

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Immediately after the end of her relationship with Richard Oschanitzky, Popovici fell in love with Dan Pița, and later became the girlfriend of Sergiu Nicolaescu, with whom she remained for several years.

Clearly, this was to give rise to animosity between Dan Pița and Sergiu Nicolaescu, the two vying for the heart of the same woman.

“When I filmed in 100 lei, I met a person who later became very important to me: Mr. Săucan’s assistant director, a smart, charismatic, talented girl, the writer Luminița Coler. (…) Once, walking down the street, I heard some men from behind me commenting: “Hey, this girl must be Ileana Popovici, after her legs”. I turned around curious to see who recognized me. It was Radu Gabrea, the director of the film “Too small for such a big war”.

He was walking with two gentlemen I knew at the time: the directors Mircea Veroiu and Dan Pița. We greeted each other, exchanged a few words and left. When I told Luminita about it, she was delighted and told me that she knew Dan Pița very well, and that she thought highly of him as a director, because he had made The Stone Wedding. So, in a short time, we met at Luminița with Pița.

We talked a lot, we liked each other, and he spent me at home holding my hand. I finally had a house too, a three-room apartment in Drumul Taberei, bought in instalments for 25 years, as it was then. When people would ask where Ileana lived, I would answer “at the corn”, because there was a corn field behind my block. Now, instead of corn there is a field of villas.

Well, little by little, a feeling was born between Dan Pița and me, even if it was of a different intensity than the previous ones. Dan was not only a very good director, but also a gentle, quiet and attentive boy. We were good together. In the meantime, we made the film “Filip the Good”, in which I had a beautiful role, with Mircea Diaconu. For this film I also did the musical illustration, with music by Vivaldi.

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Everything turned out well, because there were talented actors involved, such as Vasile Nițulescu, Florina Luican and Marin Moraru. Thanks to Dan Pița I met many special people who worked on the film: the Boruzescu family, Miruna and Radu, great set designers, inventive and talented, but at the same time normal, kind, generous people, who then went to France and became famous after making the film “Felix and Otilia” there”, declared, years later, Ileana Popovici, quoted by Adevărul.

Later, Ileana Popovici would meet Nicolaescu. “Sergiu changed his cars and did everything to impress me”.

Obviously, Dan Pița didn’t give up so easily either, according to the artist’s statements. “I love you! We’ve been together for so long! You don’t know Sergiu”, he is said to have said to Ilene Popovici at one point.

“Once, the two of them met in my apartment in Drumul Taberei. It was a memorable moment, when I let them decide. I think they followed each other, I had nothing to do with it. I retreated to the kitchen and started ironing, leaving them to their own devices. I won’t forget how, at the end of the conversation, Sergiu said from the apartment door, “I’m leaving! I’ll leave you together and give you an invitation to the film Immortals”. A film which, of course, I didn’t go to. But I broke up with Dan, and for a while I was alone. Dan Pița and Sergiu Nicolaescu didn’t speak for a long time after that meeting”, the actress also confessed, according to the source quoted above.

Later, Ileana Popovici decided to stay together with Sergiu Nicolaescu, and the two had a relationship for several years, until the actress began to get fed up with the director’s alleged jealousy. “But that bothered me, because it affected what I loved most: freedom”.

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