One of the main roles in the first act is Władysław Szpilman’s brother Henryk, who is played by English actor Ed Stoppard. Henryk is portrayed as incredibly cynical, and he displays a dark sense of humor. During the German occupation, Henryk pushes back against the Nazi occupation through small acts of non-violent resistance, and at one point he is kidnapped by the Nazis along with his sister Helena. Henryk is eventually sent to the extermination camp, where he is thought to have perished.
For Stoppard, “The Pianist” was one of the first major roles of his career. He was nominated for a Polish Film Award for best supporting actor. Stoppard has continued to act since “The Pianist,” with roles in “The Princess,” “Judy,” and “Youth.” He currently stars on the British TV show “The Undeclared War,” and has an as-yet-unnamed role in “Golda,” the upcoming 2023 biopic about Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, starring Helen Mirren.
Stoppard’s father Tom is an incredibly famous playwright, and Stoppard said in an interview with The Guardian that he struggled to live up to his father’s fame. Both Ed and Tom are Jewish, and in 2021, Ed starred in a play written by his father loosely based on his family’s experiences throughout the first half of the 20th century, entitled “Leopoldstadt.”