I don’t remember how I got to be on stage. I was growing up in an ordinary family and I was attending a physical-mathematical school. I was scared of performing in public. Not even singing or acting, just being in front of an audience, jumping in sacks. And suddenly I started going to theatres. I didn’t read a single book from the school list, but I knew all the classics by heart because I watched them. The biggest shock was going backstage. I saw the actors getting ready, the lights being fixed, the sets getting changed. My child brain was delighted. I guess that was the moment I became infected with theatre.
Sometimes I feel like I’m living several different lives. I’m an actor on stage and in films. I do voice acting. I was educated in the USA in the field that always attracted me – musical theatre. Musical theatre is a separate life, it’s 36 shows a month. This is the subject I was invited to teach at my dear Shchuka. My friend and I have got our own production, and I also create websites. All of those are like filters that need to be combined to get a pretty picture. Combining is hard. But I feel comfortable in this crazy rhythm. And most importantly, I love what I do. It’s like relationships: either there is chemistry or there is not. The insane thing is, it’s still not enough for me: I always want to do more.
American mentality is very close to me. It’s very clear. My programmer’s brain accepted it from the start. Nobody ever forces you to do anything there, the actor’s profession is treated like business. They let you know right away that you are only a small piece of a grand machine. You are not in the center! You are just a resource, in a good way. There are subjects there that are not taught in Russia at all: for instance, “an actor as a brand” or “career development”. In Russia an actor is just taught about art. There is a pompous idea that “an actor is the art and nothing else”. It’s a good thing when the actor has got 150 million, but when the actor needs to make his living he needs to understand that his profession is a job! There are tools you must use, otherwise there’s no escaping the inner conflict.
Studying in a Theatre University is a unique experience. The first year students are not allowed to play anyone but themselves. People come in and they are constrained, they need time to open up: the teacher just sits there and plays games with his students. And it’s great, being an actor means playing games. I am one of the youngest teachers at Shchuka, there are students who are older than me, but I’ve got something to give, I know how to earn money in this profession. Thanks to teaching I now understand the other side – how to enroll in a Theatre University. It’s easy: there are three factors – charisma, infectiousness and temperament. That’s it. Nobody cares how you act.
Being an actor means training every day. If you gain some skills and then stop, they’ll go away. Speech goes away immediately, it’s an unsteady skill. Besides, acting in theatre and in movies is radically different, the techniques are different. Voice acting is another very technical job. But I like transforming: I like getting dressem up and not recognizing myself in the mirror. It’s nice to know your friends don’t recognize your voice in a dubbed film. That’s the schizophrenia of an actor, playing yourself gets boring. This Autumn a new TNT project is coming out, it’s called “Sveta from the other world” where I play a female role. Now that was terribly fun.
The Vakhtangov Theatre is my dream, it was my first professional stage. I appear on that stage and I feel its energy. And I know it’s waiting for me. I’ve got a dispersal field. I can always come back to the States. But I haven’t done enough here yet. I know I can act more when I speak my native language. My teacher once told me: it’s better to go to America being a Russian star than coming there being nobody. It’s true. I don’t want to be in a rush. I am living here and now. But the proverb – “You are needed where you are born” – is not about me.