Yankovsky, Oleg

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Pseudonym: Oleg Jankowski. Nationality: Russian. Born: 23 February 1944. Education: Studied acting at the Solonov Actors Studio, Saratov, was graduated 1965. Family: Married Lyudmila Zorina, one son. Career: Stage actor with the Saratov Drama Theatre, and since 1977 at the Lenin Komsomol Theatre, Moscow: roles in Russian and foreign classics; 1968—film debut in Shchit i mech; also a television actor. Address: Komsomolsky Prospekt 41, Apt. 10, 119270 Moscow, Russia.

Films as Actor:


Shchit i mech (Shield and Sword) (Basov) (as Heinrich Schwartzkopf); Sluzhili dva tovarishcha (Two Comrades Served) (Karelov) (as Nekrasov)


Beloe solntse pustiny (The White Sun of the Wilderness) (Motyl); Zhdi menya, Ana (Wait for Me, Ana) (Vinogradov) (as Sergei Novikov); Daleko ot voiny (Far from War)


Ya, Frantsisk skorina (Stepanov) (title role); Rasplata (Payment) (Filippov) (as Alexei Platov); Sokhranivshie ogon (Karelov) (as Semion)


O lyubvi (About Love)


Gonshchiki (The Racers) (Maslennikov) (as Sergachev)


Ghev (Gibu and Proskurov) (as Leonte Chebotaru); Pod kamennym nebom (Beneath a Stony Sky) (Anderson andMaslennikov) (as Iashka); Premiya (The Prize) (Mikaelyan) (as Sololakhin)


Zerkalo (The Mirror) (Tarkovsky) (as Otets); Chuzhie pisma (Other People's Letters) (Averbakh) (as Priakhin); Zvezda plenitelnogo schastya (The Star of Captivating Happiness) (Motyl) (as Ryleev)


Dlinnoe, dlinnoe delo (A Long, Long Affair) (Aronov and Shredel) (as Vorontsov); Doverie (Trust) (Tregubovich) (as Piatakov); Polkovnik v otstavke (The Retired Colonel) (Sheshukov) (as Alexei); 72 gradusa nizhe nulia (72 Degrees below Zero) (Danilin and Tatarskii) (as Sergei Popov); Sladkaya zhenzhchina (A Sweet Woman) (Fetin) (as Tikhon); Slovo dlya zashchity (A Word for the Defense) (Abdrashitov) (as Ruslan); Sentimentalnyi roman (Maslennikov) (as Ilya Gorodnitskii)


Obratnaya svyaz (Feedback) (Tregubovich) (as Sakulin); The Shooting Party (Lotyanu)


Moi laskovyi i nezhnyi zver (My Tender Loving Beast) (Lotyanu) (as Kamyshev); Povorot (The Turning Point) (Abdrashitov) (as Viktor Vedeneev); Obuknovennoe utro (Zakharov) (as Khoziain)


Tot samyi Myunkhauzen (Munchhausen Himself) (Zakharov) (title role); Otkrytaya kniga (An Open Book) (Fetin) (as Raevskii)


My, nizhepodpisavshiesya . . . (We, the Undersigned) (Lioznova) (as Semenov)


Shlyapa (The Hat) (Kvinikhidze) (as Lenisov); Sobaka Baskervilei (Maslennikov—for TV) (as Stepelton)


Vlublen po sobstvennomu zelanij (Voluntarily in Love) (Mikaelyan) (as Igor); Polioty vo sne naiavou (Dream Flights) (Balayan) (as Sergei Makarov); Dom, kotoryi postroil svift (Zakharov—for TV)


Nostalghia (Nostalgia) (Tarkovsky) (as Gortchkov)


Khrani menio, moi talisman (Balayan) (as Liosha Dmitriev)


Kreutzerova Sonata (Shveytizer) (as Vasili Pozdynshev)


Filer (Balayan)


Ubit Drakona (Zakharov); Az en XX. Szazadom (My 20th Century) (Enyedi) (as Z)


Mado, Poste Restante (as Jean-Marie Zerlini)


Tsareubiitsa (Assassin of the Tsar) (Shakhnazarov) (as Dr. Smirnov/Tsar Nicholas II)


Moi Ivan, Toi Abraham (Ivan and Abraham; Me Ivan, You Abraham) (Zauberman)


Mute Witness (Waller) (as Larsen); Pervaya lyubov (First Love) (Balayan)


Rokovye yajtsa (Fatal Eggs) (Lomkin) (as Persikov); Muzhchina dlya molodoj devushki (A Man for a Young Girl) (Ibragimbekov); Milyi drug davno zabytykh let (Sweet Friend of Years Forgotten Long Ago) (Samsonov); Revizor (Inspector) (Gazarov)


Alissa (Goldschmidt) (as Kosicz)


By YANKOVSKY: articles—

Isskustvo Kino (Moscow), November 1973.

Interviews in Soviet Film (Moscow), no. 11, 1976, and no. 10, 1978.

Interview with Clare Kitson, in the Guardian (London), 20 April 1989.

On YANKOVSKY: articles—

"Actors and Roles: Oleg Yankovsky," in Soviet Film (Moscow), no. 242, 1977.

Lyndina, E., "Strong, Manly, Tender," in Soviet Film (Moscow), no. 12, 1981.

Soviet Film (Moscow), no. 10, 1984, and no. 1, 1987.

* * *

Oleg Yankovsky's film career was launched by a chance meeting with the Soviet film director Vladimir Basov in a cafe in Lvov. Basov invited the young actor, a graduate of the Solonov Actors Studio in Saratov, to play the antagonist in his next film, Shchit i mech.

Since that auspicious debut, Yankovsky's career has been closely tied to the new artistic tendencies in Soviet cinema, particularly when it comes to portraying new conceptions of traditional figures. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Yankovsky's roles were predominantly patterned around this theme—several directors found his boyish figure, intelligently ironic features, and sardonic smile ideally suited to their unconventional approaches to historical characters. The most notable example of Yankovsky's work from this period is his Nekrasov in Sluzhili dva tovarishcha, a student in St. Petersburg who joins the Red Army, taking part in the Revolution not only with his gun, but with his camera. The director, Karelov, had originally intended Yankovsky for the part of the antagonist Brusnetzov (played by Vladimir Visodsky), but gambled successfully on Yankovsky's ability to play heroic roles without resorting to larger-than-life mannerisms. Instead, Yankovsky's special ability appears to be his talent for making historic figures seem familiar and understandable to contemporary audiences, an attribute also evident in his performance in the title role of Ya, Frantsisk skorina as an enlightened 14th-century humanitarian.

Yankovsky's realistic talent made him a natural candidate for roles in contemporary Soviet films that focused on the complex moral and social issues confronting a socialist economic system. His ability to express the inner emotions of his characters lifted his portrayals of Communist Party leaders (in Premiya and Obratnaya svyaz) far above the popular film stereotypes.

Perhaps the most consistent feature of Yankovsky's film career has been his constant diversification of roles. This tendency became very evident in the 1970s, when Yankovsky's creative restlessness propelled him through a large group of varied roles, not all of them major (some were small and even episodic). Throughout this diversity, a unifying theme remained in the actor's continued exploration of complex, often contradictory characters, who frequently undergo violent emotional turmoil. An especially interesting example is Yankovsky's performance in Emil Lotyanu's Moi laskovyi i nezhnyi zver. In this adaptation of Chekhov's Hunting Drama, Yankovsky's character is Kamyshev, a bright and gifted man whose personality is dramatically crushed by the mediocre pettiness and false morality of a small provincial Russian town. Yankovsky gives one of his best performances as he expresses the gradual deterioration of Kamyshev's character, which ultimately transforms him into a murderer.

Character transformation is also a central theme of the musical Shlyapa, in which Yankovsky played an egocentric trumpeter who survives a deep emotional crisis, affecting both his private life and his career. Similarly, Yankovsky has played Igor, an alcoholic who reforms, in Vlublen po sobstvennomu zelanij.

Yankovsky is also known for his collaboration with the director Andrey Tarkovsky in Nostalghia and Zerkalo. In addition to his active film career, Yankovsky also continues to act on the stage, maintaining his status as one of the most popular Russian actors.

—Christina Stoyanova