Close-up: An Interview with Elena Lyadova

ELENA Lyadova is a renowned Russian theatre, film and television actor. She has played roles in Andrey Zvyagintsev ‘s Leviathan, Alexei Uchitel’s Dreaming of Space and Yuri Arabovs’ Orlean. 

Close-up Culture caught up with Elena to talk about her upcoming film Dovlatov, working with Andrey Zvyagintsev and her time on the BBC’s McMafia.

Q: You star in Alexei German’s film Dovlatov. Can you tell us about the project and your role in it?

A: THE Dovlatov project was a special experiment for me.

I had never worked with director Alexei German before, but I had seen some of his films. The manner of acting in his films is different from what I have done in films by other directors. His actors do not exist brightly, they hardly stand out, and their intonation seems monotonous. Almost no emotion, they speak quietly.

Sometimes it seems his characters merge into a single tone. I am used to a brighter manifestation so I had to reorganize internally. I had to integrate into the tone of Alexei. I do not have a big role at all, but this is just the difficulty: suddenly you cannot stand out from the general picture. You cannot be a false tooth and still blend in.

Q: Audiences might best remember you from your incredible work with Andrey Zvyagintsevon Elena and then Leviathan. Can you tell us about your time with Andrey?

A: WORKING with Andrey is my creative success. He is a profound director. A perfectionist.

He spends a long time selecting his actors. After the auditions, several months pass before he picks the roles. He studies pictures that would help him create the film. He also spends a long time picking locations.

But he has a permanent team. The screenwriter is his great friend – as are the cameraman, the artists, the sound engineer and the casting director. They do not change. With this, it is also possible that it is easier for Andrey to achieve the desired result. On set, he gives freedom to the actors. Of course, he corrects some things and he says his wishes. But initially the actors are precisely selected for the role.

Q: Are there any other directors you would love to collaborate with?

A: IT is important for me that the director wants to say something. He must have a message to society, the world, the cosmos. I am interested in many directors such as the Cohen Brothers, Xavier Dolan and Paolo Sorrentino.

Q: UK audiences will have seen you on TV show McMafia. What were your experiences on this project and how do you enjoy working for TV?

A: THE experience was small. Me and my other colleagues from Russia played Russian characters. In connection with this, the script was notable for the discrepancy between us and the presentation of us and our everyday life by writers. So my colleagues advised the director on some fundamentally important issues.

I have several TV series in my filmography. The main thing is that the material is not just a pacifier, so I have something to play with.

Q: You will play a role in the movie Rubezh later this year. Can you reveal anything about the film?

A:  IN the Rubezh, I have a small role. I play a mother who escorts her son to war, but does not want to because she understands that he may perish. The film is fantastic.

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