• Vladimir Kulich was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1956
• He worked in the theatre from a young age and played ice hockey in his teenage years
• He moved to Canada and ran a white-water rafting business for 10 years
• He took up acting and has since appeared in films such as “Angel”, “The 13th Warrior”, “X-Files” and “Ironclad”
• His hobbies include house renovation, playing guitar, and he can speak four languages fluently
Early life, family, educational background
Czech-Canadian actor, Vladimir Kulich was born on 14 July 1956, in Prague, Czechoslovakia – which is now called the Czech Republic – making him a Cancer. He was born into a family working in the entertainment industry, and got to visit theatres a lot, even finding out what being on stage felt like, thanks to his uncle had been the operator of a theatre company in Prague. When Vladimir was about five years old, he ran errands between intermissions for his uncle.
Growing up essentially in a theatre environment, Vladimir knew from an early age that his future was filled with him acting. He took his first step into making his dream a reality by performing at the State Theatre of Czechoslovakia, beginning with minor roles.
Vladimir is now probably best known for his roles in “Angel,” “The 13th Warrior,” “X-Files,” and “Ironclad.”
Ice Hockey Player
The first time he was paid for acting, he played a boy crying over his lost balloon in a low-budget Czech film. He couldn’t continue pursuing acting for a while as his parents divorced when he was 12 years old, and he moved with his mother to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They lived in the poorer area of a wealthy neighborhood – Vladimir was sad to learn that there weren’t any theatres near him, so he instead joined an ice hockey team as his extracurricular activity. Hockey soon became his sanctuary; when his home life became difficult, due to his mother’s trouble finding work, he could turn to his teammates and sport.
A noteworthy Montreal Canadiens player, John Ferguson Sr. encouraged him and often watched Vladimir’s games. When John became the New York Rangers head coach, he offered Vladimir the chance to try out for the team, as he believed in Vladimir’s potential. Vladimir didn’t make the cut, but he did join their Port Huron minor league affiliate. Although he was doing rather well as an ice hockey player, and was on his way to joining the big leagues, after a year of playing ice hockey, he decided to retire at 21 years old to take up acting. He does, however, still play in celebrity charity games – he has also skated with the Los Angeles Kings Alumni Association.
Before his official return to acting, Vladimir first tried his hand at summer camp jobs for handicapped children, painting, and reading more regularly. Not falling in love with anything he tried out, Vladimir moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to open a white-water river rafting business not far from Chilliwack. For the following 10 years, he worked as the owner, operator, and occasionally as a rugged outing guide. At the time, many film and television production were being developed in the city, which received the nickname, ‘Hollywood North,’ and which reignited Vladimir’s first love of acting.
One weekend, one of his white-water rafting trips just so happened to have been booked by “21 Jump Street”’s producers who liked how unique Vladimir looks thanks to being Czech-Canadian – so they offered him a minor role. Vladimir played a doorman, and his dialogue consisted of a single word. Although the part was minuscule, it reminded him of how much he enjoyed acting, and he was determined to make it work this time.
Small world. Yesterday I posted Tim Minchin's 9 Life lessons graduation speech and today I ran into him at the coffee shop. (Full Moon)With Tim Minchin a fine young man. #Timminchin Tim Minchin
He soon began guest-appearing in television series such as “Wiseguy” as Scarpo, and in “MacGyver” as Mr. Mammon and Hans Kreese.” He drove to Los Angeles from Vancouver in January 1990; he had a deal with himself – get a foot in the proverbial door within a month – it gave him peace-of-mind that if it didn’t work out, he had his rafting business to fall back on. If his acting was not working out, he had to drive back to Canada just before the spring to get the business running again.
When the month was almost over, Vladimir’s hope was quite worn out, but he luckily received a call from an agency that agreed to take him on; this news caused Vladimir to allow himself another month to land a job. His new agent booked him an audition for “The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake,” but Vladimir felt that it wasn’t working out, so he returned to Vancouver a couple of days earlier than he’d planned. When he was back in Vancouver, and the month was almost over, he got a call to say that he’d got the part of William De Bruin, and needed to get back to Los Angeles.
Vladimir guest-starred and worked on films throughout the mid-1990s, while living in Vancouver for the majority of the years. In “X-Files,” he played a crew member of a ship that suffered a supernatural situation, but his character was the only crew-member unaffected. The role was a bit challenging, as he needed to learn Norwegian for his lines, but he gained praise for his good work in the episode, and Vladimir had to consider that moving to LA might be best for his career, despite enjoying his life in Canada. Not long afterwards, he got his green card and moved to L.A.
After his move, he fell into financial difficulty; unfortunately, he was being typecast as his agent mostly sent him to auditions for roles as terrorists and Nazi members; so Vladimir fired his agent, and went on the hunt for a new one. While reconsidering which direction to go in, his former agent phoned him in connection with an audition for a Viking movie. Vladimir was not told much about the role, and the audition was rather muted, and at the time the project was entitled “Eaters of the Dead,” but eventually renamed “The 13th Warrior.” Two months later, John McTiernan – the director – asked to meet with him, and when Vladimir was working on the screen test, he realized the film’s potential to do well, and hoped that it would become his breakout role. His character, Buliwyf was inspired by Beowulf, a mythical hero; Vladimir had to learn to ride a horse for his role.
When the film hit the screens in 1999, it didn’t live up to its assumed hype. Audiences and critics didn’t enjoy the obvious creative differences between the author, Michael Crichton, and director John McTiernan, but they did praise Vladimir’s performance, and recognized his hard work and so potential. However, he returned to the Czech Republic intending to purchase a home and retire, but while there, he chose to return in L.A. and continue working as an actor, although his trip did inspire him to go back to his roots, and strengthen knowledge of his heritage.
In 2002, a “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spin-off, “Angel,” was in the works, and casting agents contacted Vladimir, asking him to audition for the role of The Beast. Vladimir knew every letter of the Buffy franchise and the spin-off, so read for The Beast, and was then shown concept art for how his character would look. At the time, Vladimir was hesitant about taking the role, because it required a 50lb fiberglass costume and a lot of make-up and prosthetics, which all took about five hours to be put on. Would all work towards making him unrecognizable? He was nervous about that working against him. He ultimately decided that it would be a good showcase for his acting abilities, and at his next reading, series’ executive story editor Mere Smith told Vladimir that she enjoyed his work in “The 13th Warrior” – this compliment was the final push he needed to accept the role; they shot for 11 weeks, and he appeared in a total of eight episodes.
Towards the end of 2005, he was offered the role of The Swede in the action movie “Smokin’ Aces,” but then took a big break from acting, only returning in 2011 as Tiberius, the leader of the Danish mercenaries in “Ironclad,” an independent movie set in 1215 when English King John seized Rochester Castle.
He also played Erik in three episodes of the series, “Vikings”, and later that year, he voiced a video game character for the first time, Ulfric Stormcloak the leader of the Stormcloak rebellion for “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”, which was created by Bethesda Softworks. IThe next year, he voiced Solarii/Nikolai in the “Tomb Raider” video game.
During his downtime between roles, Vladimir enjoyed volunteering and meeting fans. In February 2003, he attended an “Angel” Posting Board Party that raised money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation; they raised $30000 for their Greater Los Angeles Chapter. In June 2005, he went to London, England to attend the Starfury: Quor’Toth convention as a noted guest.
In May 2004, he was a guest speaker at the University of Southern California for the 15 Minutes Plus segment focusing on the entertainment industry; they offered demonstrations and workshops on topics including animation, screenwriting, film, music and theatre.
For Vladimir, playing ice hockey is a form of nostalgic physical therapy. In 2005, ‘06 and ’07, he participated in Pro/Celebrity Hockey Games sponsored by the L.A. Kings Alumni Association and the L.A. Kings, Freeze the Disease which supports patients suffering from cystic fibrosis.
In 2006, Vladimir reached out to his two half-brothers on his father’s second marriage. Although they had never met before so didn’t grow up together, the three brothers got along very well, and ended up starting a Prague-based production company called Charles Bridge Productions. The name was a nod to an historic Prague structure, the Charles Bridge, which is one of the most famous landmarks in the city, erected in 1357.
Vladimir is a dog lover, he has an extra soft spot for large canines and has adopted several dogs from shelters throughout his adult life. His 95lb pit bull terrier named Spanky was allowed to visit him on his day filming “Angel,” and his co-star, David Boreanaz also loves dogs, so Spanky got a very warm welcome. Vladimir also supports organizations that rehabilitate abused pit bulls through behavioral psychology.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
Not long before landing the role of The Beast, Vladimir underwent corrective laser eye surgery, but worried that the dollar-sized contacts required would actually damage his eyes.
Another fun fact while on “Angel,” was that it included his first on-screen kiss which he shared with co-star Charisma Carpenter as an agent at the Powers That Be, Cordelia Chase.
He’d loved motorcycles for a long time, a shared passion between him and his father. In April 2007, he was involved in a serious motorbike accident in Prague, which lead to five broken ribs and a ruptured spleen, so he had to spend three days in the hospital, which was extended to ten days due to an allergic reaction to the medication he was given. Vladimir has said that in hindsight, he appreciates that it happened as it made him appreciate life more.
One of Vladimir’s more surprising hobbies is house renovation and architecture. He’s worked on several renovation projects and learned to do electrical and woodworking tasks. His favorite part of house renovations is major alterations and redesigns such as knocking down walls. He finds the projects therapeutic, and money from the projects supports his income.
- He has shared that he would like to go into writing and directing films.
- Thanks to all of his travels, Vladimir is fluent in four languages – Czech, English, French and Hungarian.
- He’s learned to play the guitar and even wrote some songs with the instrument for his own enjoyment.
Net worth and salary
As of January 2023, his net worth is estimated at $1.7 million, thanks to his work as an actor, business owner, and house renovator.