The 2012 London Summer Olympics was a frequent topic of conversation amongst me and my friends. Inevitably someone would ask the question, “What is your favorite Olympic sport?” Most would say track or field, swimming, gymnastics, or cycling. My answer is always team handball.
I’ll admit my response is half telling the truth and half trying to be different. In the United States, team handball is not exactly what you would call a popular sport. In fact, most sports fans have never even heard of it. By the way, team handball is a cross between basketball and hockey.
My fondness for a sport I only get to see every four years has drawn me to actor Teo Celigo. He grew up playing team handball in Izola, then switched to Koper and Slovan Ljubljana. He was quite good at it and his teams won championships and tournaments all over Europe.
While I was drawn to the game because it was kitsch (at least for Americans), Celigo was drawn to the game because his parents wanted him to be involved in activities that would keep him off the streets. Growing up, they signed him up for just about everything, from soccer to dancing, in an attempt to keep Celigo active, engaged, and out of trouble.
Team handball won out in the end and the game eventually became Celigo’s life. However, when he graduated from high school he realized that playing professional team handball was a long shot. So instead Celigo tried acting.
He auditioned for AGRFT, the Slovenian academy of theater, radio, film and TV. Even though Celigo didn’t get accepted he did catch the acting bug. In October of 2009, he managed to get signed by an agent through the “Hollywood Here I Come” program.
Celigo’s parents, who for some reason never thought about enrolling him acting school, thought his foray into Hollywood would be brief. Even though they were wrong they still supported their son in his new profession and his decision to relocate to Los Angeles.
Once in L.A., Celigo’s agent landed him a scholarship to the famous Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre. His time at Stella Adler not only allowed him to improve his craft but taught him about life; the school made him more aware of the world around him.
Although he’s only been acting for a few years, Celigo has put together an impressive resume. On the stage, Celigo has played Joe Mitchell in Clifford Odets’ Waiting for Lefty, James Bates in Landford Wilson’s The Book of Days, and several characters in Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters. For that last play, Celigo learned to play the guitar.
The highlight of Celigo’s time on the boards was playing the lead role in a production of the Bard’s Macbeth.
Celigo’s film work includes the shorts This Is Not A Love Song (directed by Stephanie Valentin) and Twist of Hate. Both are headed to film festivals with the latter title slated to appear at Sundance.
As for feature films, Celigo was in Romain Laraize’s The Last Round. In this work, Celigo played an Italian boxer who is forced to fight for the mob.
Celigo is currently working on a full-length movie about a group of people with Down Syndrome who make a movie. The project is called Orson’s Last Dance and is directed by J.D. Mata. Later this year, Celigo will be in Rio de Janeiro to shoot a horror flick.
When he started acting, Celigo probably thought he could always fall back on team handball. Of course, if his acting career keeps progressing like it has, and he stays in America, the only time he’ll have to worry about team handball is every four years when the Summer Olympics roll around.