Popular Russian actress Elizaveta Boyarskaya talks about street life, football on the big screen and Goethe as a source of inspiration. Film ‘The Match’ is a drama about the notorious football match which took place in the summer of 1942 in Kiev between Dinamo Kiev and the Nazi occupants, later called ‘The death match’. Your character Anna dates the Dinamo captain – the goalkeeper Nikolay played by Sergey Bezrukov.
The film’s events take place in occupied Kiev, in Babiy Yar, in Soviet labour camps, on the front line and on the football pitch. But even during such difficult times there is still a place for a traditional love line. My character makes a huge sacrifice to save her beloved one from the camp by becoming a mistress of the Burgomaster of Kiev.
Could you personally fall in love with an athlete?
I think it depends on the person. Anna is attracted to Nikolay’s cheerful personality, success, great social skills and sense of humour.
The character played by Sergey Bezrukov is a very credible leader, but what about his football skills?
It was very amusing to watch the mixed teams of actors and professional footballers playing during the course of screening. Sometimes the actors got really carried away and this was when the real football happened! It was quite clear who played well and who didn’t. Sergey did exceptionally well. His practising with the goalkeeper Sergey Ovchinnikov wasn’t wasted and I was surprised how somebody could learn to play on a professional level within such a short space of time.
What is your attitude to football?
My father is a very keen supporter of Zenith, this is why in my family no one stays away from football. I can’t say I am such a big fan of the game, but I am aware of the main cup events and always support my team. Petersburgers are very fond of their team and wherever you go – either the theatre or the film set – everyone discusses football.
What was your impression of the character you played in the film?
According to the screenplay, Anna’s character looked pretty unremarkable, so it took me some imagination to give a personality. This is the most interesting part of acting – to invent characters, their manners and habits. At the beginning, Anna was just a German language schoolteacher, but we evolved her image into an adventurous, easygoing and even provocative young woman, not very typical in the Soviet Union in those days.
What happened next?
We emphasised Anna’s eccentricity with her fluent knowledge of German poetry and her extraordinary hairstyle – in the film she quotes Goethe and Schiller. In a way she looks very free and open – just like any European woman. Such a spontaneous personality attracts Nickolay. We made Anna’s role pretty detailed to make it more complete and realistic. If you like to invent characters so much, why don’t you try screenplay writing yourself? I love writing, but I don’t think I have enough patience and talent to write a screenplay. Today everyone is having a try at screenplay writing and sometimes you really wonder why people create such meaningless works. One famous film director used to say that there are 3 components to a successful film: a screenplay, a screenplay and a screenplay. I agree with him. I can certainly invent and enhance a film, but this would be a part of my actor’s contribution – to make my character a living individual.
‘The Match’ is classed as ‘a patriotic action movie’. What do you think about this genre?
Such films are very popular these days. To me personally, historical dramas look utterly interesting. I love costumed films, people from the past centuries, as they think and act differently, they have different inspirations and often become witnesses or participants of what we call history. That said, every family who lived during World War II can become a film character, as they all have their own stories to tell. This is why historical dramas look so attractive – there is a large number of events and lifelines that are intertwined. When going to see a ‘patriotic drama’, the audience already expect to see the action, the war, the struggle and of course a lot of emotions.
What periods of Russian history haven’t you visited during your acting career?
I have never played roles from the first half of the XIXth century – the years of Napoleon and the young Pushkin - and this gap I would like to fill.