Yevgeny Mironov, actor

There are lots of funny stories circulating about actor Yevgeny Mironov: on a cold winter night a few years ago, he took pity on a drunkard and tried to help him stand on his own feet. Alas, the drunkard fell to the pavement again, his wristwatch undone from the fall. Naturally, Mironov tried to re-fasten the watch around the fellow’s wrist. At this very moment, a militia patrol drove by, drawing the “natural conclusion” that this young man was rolling the poor drunkard.

Despite his protests (“Hey, guys, I’m an actor! My last name is Mironov.”) the “guardians of order” put him behind bars. “We know only one Mironov,” one of the policemen said, “and you don’t look at all like him.”

The officer was referring to the late megastar Andrei Mironov (Diamond Arm) and did not recognize Yevgeny Mironov, despite the fact that he was one of Russia’s most famous actors. It took the interference of the head of the militia precinct to set Mironov free.

Russians don’t go to the movies so often these days, and Mironov, 34, said he has no hard feelings about such “misunderstandings.” “I have never had any illusions about my popularity,” he said. “Yes, in the metro or in a market in my native Saratov they point fingers. But is it popularity? Today it is impossible to be loved by people on the scale of yesterday. We had stars in the past, now we just have well-known actors.”

Mironov dreamed of becoming an actor from early in his childhood — a tough challenge for a young provincial lad whose parents were workers. He entered the Saratov Theater School straight from secondary school, then, in 1986, set off to the capital to make a name for himself.

The problem was he had no blat (“valuable connections”). So he pinned his hopes on Oleg Tabakov, the renowned actor and founder of the Tabakov Theater, because he too came from the city of Saratov. Mironov somehow managed to have a tête-à-tête with Tabakov, who was impressed with Mironov’s acting skill and accepted him to the second grade of the MKhAT (Moscow Art Theater) School, where he was teaching at the time.

The ambitious young actor has come a long way indeed. Upon graduation from the MKhAT School in 1990, Mironov joined Tabakov’s troupe, where he starred in many leading roles, including most recently an impostor in “Boris Godunov,” which earned him the theater’s prestigious Chaika award last December.

Mironov’s career in cinema is no less impressive. In fact, while westerners may recognize him as the tank commander in Burnt by The Sun (1994), in fact Mironov made his screen debut while still a student, in Alexander Kaydanovsky’s surrealistic Wife of a Kerosene Maker (1988), which went largely unnoticed.

Other films followed, including the Stalin era political saga Lost in Siberia (1991) and Valery Todorovsky’s Love (1992). This latter role, in which he played a young Russian confronted with Soviet anti-Semitism, propelled him to national fame, earning him the Best Actor prize at the festivals Sozvezdiye-92, and Kinotavr-92, as well as a special prize at the 1992 Geneva International Film Festival “Stars of Tomorrow.”

An actor of the last decade of the waning century, Yevgeny embodies all the traits of the Russian heroes of this decade, who do and achieve everything at a vertiginous speed. Thus, in 1996 Mironov became the youngest Russian actor ever awarded the title of Emeritus Artist of Russia, winning the State Prize — a prestigious symbol of national recognition. Throughout the nineties, Mironov starred in many films. The most notable included: Todorovsky’s Encore, Encore (1993), about life in a remote military garrison; Vladimir Khotinenko’s The Muslim (1995), in which he played a Soviet soldier sent to Afghanistan, who is taken prisoner and converts to Islam; Sergei Gazarov’s Inspector General (1996, based on Gogol’s novel); Mom (1999), based on the true story of a family of jazz musicians who hijacked a plane in the USSR in the 1970s.

Despite his numerous awards and titles, Mironov is still very young and has not exhausted his creative potential. His brilliant supporting role as the young writer Leonid Gurov, in Alexei Uchitel’s film His Wife’s Diary, is proof enough of this (see page 9).

Clearly Yevgeny Mironov, the provincial boy from Saratov, has succeeded in making a name for himself in Russia’s world of theater and cinema and can well be called a modern day star. But luckily he realizes that such success was, as he recently confessed in a TV interview, “an advance” from God.  “Now,” Mironov continued, “I must repay this advance with everything I have.”

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