Amalia Mordvinova’s beauty is undeniable. Her luxurious mop of red hair and deep emerald eyes evoke the heroines of Titian’s canvasses. Add her sultry low voice and slim figure and it is easy to understand why she has attracted the attention of cinema directors and “simple mortals” alike. But, of course, this 25-year-old actress’ beauty is only the half of it. She is an acclaimed actor of stage and film.
Mordvinova was just a third year student at the Shchukin Theater School when she was spotted by renowned Lenkom director Mark Zakharov, who tapped her to play Anne Boleyn in the theater’s renowned play “Royal Games.” The role earned her the Crystal Turandot and the State Prize. Her career was taking off.
Mordvinova went on to star in the play “Falbala,” based on Dostoevsky’s “Poor Gents” (Bednye Lyudi), then in two comedies by Mikhail Kozakov. In Karen Shakhnazarov’s 1993 film Sny (“Dreams”) Mordvinova played a vulgar dishwasher with a perfect mix of pride and affect.
“I like to be different,” Mordvinova says of the many varied roles she has taken. And she quotes the precept of one of her teachers, Yakov Smolensky: “You are a woman, so you must know how to play any role. And be afraid of nothing ...” It was with such enthusiasm that Mordvinova took up the supporting role of a frivolous provincial doctor’s wife in Pavel Chukhrai’s Oscar nominated film The Thief (1997).
But in 1998, Mordvinova’s skyrocketing career was suddenly thrown off course. After a falling out with Lenkoms’ director, Mordvinova was asked to leave the theater. Once the initial shock wore off, Mordvinova set out to prove that she did not need Lenkom’s stamp of approval.
She began working at the Mayakovsky theater and then acted in the 1999 film Zhenskaya Sobstvennost (“Female Property”), in the role of a bookkeeper working in a film crew. But her big break came with her starring role in a 14-part miniseries on Russian TV, Okhota na Zolushku (“Hunting for Cinderella”). Mordvinova admits that the series fell short of her expectations. She had thought it would be about a new type of Russian woman who is skilled at extracting herself from difficult situations. But the writing proved to be lackluster and the series a pale Russian version of La Femme Nikita. Nonetheless, it was a huge popular success. Because of Cinderella, Mordvinova was voted Girl of the Year in a poll of TV-Parade’s male readers.
In a recent interview with Russia Journal, Mordvinova admitted that her stunning good looks have been both a help and a hindrance to the development of her career. “Even the most inexperienced producer realizes that hiring an actress with a face you can’t forget is an advantage,” she said. “The only thing is, there are stereotypes. I don’t know why, but I’m often asked to play prostitutes. Maybe it’s because of my red hair?”
Whatever the reason, Mordvinova did not always seek an acting career. Originally, as a young girl in the town of Vologda, she dreamed of becoming a speech therapist. But, when she unexpectedly showed a passion for acting after being involved in popular KVN contests, her mother encouraged her to get a proper theatrical education. Mordvinova moved to Moscow after being accepted at the Shchukin school, where she studied under Alla Kazanskaya.
Characteristically, in one of her later TV roles (in the TV series Samozvantsy—“Impostors”), Mordvinova played a provincial girl who took the capital by storm. “Some said I was actually playing myself,” Mordvinova recalled in an interview with the magazine Krasota (“Beauty”).
In September of last year, Mordvinova started work on a TV program called Open Project. A late-night news program for the 16-40-year-old crowd, it teams Mordvinova with MonteCarlo radio DJ Valery Maryanov to cover a wide range of topics and guests, from cinema and theater to the Russian underground.
In her still very short career, Mordvinova has shown that she is not “just another pretty face.” Her potential is huge indeed. Her starring role in Yegor Konchalovsky’s 2000 film The Hermit earned her a coveted Silver Pegasus. And her versatility on many fronts, from TV to theater to film and journalism testifies to at least two undeniable facts: that she is gifted with a multifaceted talent, and that her name does not need further promotion—“raskrutka” to use the argot of local producers. This gives hope that her best roles are still ahead of her and that she will startle us with future masterpieces on a par with her Anne Boleyn.
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