Over the past year, Alexander Kuznetsov has appeared in a fair number of film projects, from "Summer" by Kirill Serebrennikov to the recent TV series "The Kept Women" by Konstantin Bogomolov and the epic "Brotherhood" by Pavel Lungin. He does not intend to stop: some shootings are replaced by others, and in the program of the upcoming "Kinotavr" there are three more films with his participation. This, however, does not mean at all that Kuznetsov agrees to act in everything that is offered to him. The story that quality can be sacrificed for quantity is definitely not about him. The actor does not hide at all that he loves to control everything to the smallest detail, to the last point: it does not matter whether it is a photo shoot or an interview. “I am a perfectionist,” says Kuznetsov calmly, who can not only say “no”, but also see the difference between hype and success.
- You are now in Corsica, filming a film about the French Foreign Legion with Louis Garrel. This is all we know about this project so far.
- Yes, in principle, I still can't tell you anything more. "My Legionnaire" is a project by director Rachel Lang, the first main role is with Garrel, the second, somehow, for me. Now they are shooting.
- Did you have to urgently learn French to participate in it?
- Yes, I had to learn, and I continue every day. I find myself in an environment where they don't really like English or just don't know it. The French do consider French to be the best language in the world (which I partly agree with). Therefore, in a sense, I have no choice, absolutely all communication on the site is in French.
© Artem Kononenko
- In interviews you often say that you do not want to limit yourself to only Russian cinema, and now you are filming your first European project. Is it the result of an effort, a strategy, or rather a coincidence?
- I do not want to limit myself to Russian, European, British or Moldovan projects - this is the whole point, this is freedom. Being here, I understand it very well, although this shooting for me is a dream come true. I sit in Corsica and watch the final episodes of Game of Thrones in between, and then rush around the house, pulling out my hair in panic, realizing how much time I am wasting now, while people are changing the world there. It turns me on very much every day. I try to shoot and have fun, but I don't know how to just enjoy the moment, unfortunately, even when everything is fine. It still breaks me like I'm on fire, because all my life I want to play in a big, epic movie, to be part of giant franchises. So, of course, this is not a coincidence, but a self-made strategy that you have to invent on the go, because it does not exist. There is no verified plan for a Russian actor, how to take and get into not just European, but world cinema - I mean not by chance, not to drop in for a couple of projects, but in an adult way, for life and on an equal footing.
- If we talk about domestic cinema, a significant number of very different projects in which you starred were released during the year. Does this, as well as the attention of the press, affect the number of scripts you send? Do you have to give up a lot?
- Scripts, of course, are sent a lot, and you refuse 90%, yes. Sometimes because of a lack of time, but in the vast majority of cases because the scripts are terrible. I think it will not be news to you that we have just a gigantic disaster with scenarios in our country. Sometimes you like both the director and your partners, but you still have to grit your teeth and refer to being busy, because you see: the script cannot be taken out, no one will save it. So it's not about the number of projects, but the quality of the proposals. I refused in the same way when I was a first year student and I had nothing. Because I am deeply convinced that the art of giving up what you don’t need in life is 50% of success in it.
© Artem Kononenko
- "Game of Thrones", as we found out, you watch, and domestic serials?
- No, unfortunately, I hardly watch any Russian cinema or Russian serials. I have disabled the perception receptor of our cinema. When I'm filming it's one thing, I try to do something. I watch films with my participation - for "preventive work", sometimes I watch the premieres of friends and some really important work of colleagues. But in general, no. I can’t waste the time of my life that flies on things that are not interesting to me. Bogomolov is, of course, a new wave, there are some significant shifts in the series in general. But the topics … Even if it is very high quality, but again about house arrests and Russian "life" - for me it's like a knife on a plate. I'm interested in large-scale, epic, romantic stories. Copyright films, of course, too, but subject to big, beautiful ideas. Not this digging in one's own and others' dirty rags. I am aware of the factthat now social and everyday cinema is scary in fashion, but I can't look at everyday life. She is sometimes even epic filmed, like the movie "Bitter!", For example. It's high quality, cool, funny, it's an outstanding job. But globally - everyday life. And it has become an important genre in Russia, because people do not seem to be interested in anything else. No one here is interested in the rescue of princesses, dragons, knights, battles, space, black holes, the Trojan War. For example, Marvel or Disney. No matter how commercial they are, by the very essence of the plots they make you crawl out of ordinary life, feel and think on a different level. As funny as it sounds, The Little Mermaid or The Lion King is, for my taste, ultimately a million times more important to the world than most of the deepest social films. I'm discouraged by the scenarios that come to me because they're all aboutas a conditional guy from Vladimir went to Tula, and there he has love and problems with his parents against the background of everyday troubles. I do not see any attempts to globalize my desires, to want more. All the time, either answers to the West, or about the Gopniks and the Crimean bridge.
- How do you feel about yourself on the screen?
- There is nothing new here, it is very difficult, this is a common theme among actors. I almost always do not like the way I play, and I secretly hope that the director and the team will say: "No, Sash, this is brilliant." I do not seem to perceive myself adequately, in 95% of cases it seems to me that I am not playing convincingly enough (or maybe I am), so I spend watching all my films sitting in a chair in horror.
- To talk about "Kept women". What is it like to play an absolutely mediocre artist, what does your hero Kirill look like?
- It's not really a role, it's just an expensive joke, such a funny pointless poodle mascot in addition to the normal characters. An absolute image, almost no responsibility and semantic load and an excellent director - what else is needed. Playing a terrifyingly mediocre actor with a goofy look is a pretty classic mini-dream of everyone in our profession. But you can do it well only with a really clear director who will lead you correctly, so nothing would have happened without Bogomolov.
By the way, I was faced with the fact that 50% of viewers who watched "Kept Women" really think that I am such an actor. My agent once sent me a comment like “Is he playing the sex symbol of this show? Who will give him, you look at his nose. There are no normal men left, or what? " (Laughs) For me, this work is not that serious, we just had fun. It's fun.
© Artem Kononenko
- What kind of relationship with the director on the set are you most comfortable with? There are authoritarian directors, there are those who, on the contrary, crave dialogue.
- There is always a need for dialogue, there is nothing to even discuss. It happens that a really great director who knows everything well, calculates, even has nothing to offer - everything is already ready for you. The funny thing is that these directors and their teams give you the freedom to propose. Because they are relaxed and confident, they know what they are doing, and they understand that the actor should feel free and know that he is being listened to. This is the paradox. A super-authoritarian filmmaker who can't be offered anything is usually just an idiot. This is not how it works - extremes never work. The basis of the fundamentals is a clear understanding that the cinema is not made by you alone, but by the entire film group, without exception. Now I finally saw it with my own eyes in Europe, when every props is very important, he is respected and listened to. But there is another extreme of directors, for whom you yourself make films. You come and see in his eyes an absolute lack of understanding of what is happening, and a very suspicious delight from your every stupid idea. As a result, you inadvertently seem to take everything into your own hands. Because, as my classmate once said, the initiative lies on the floor. And you have to pick it up. The actor should not take anything into his own hands, he should only help the process as much as possible. We need a middle ground.
- You have mentioned more than once that you do not like to give interviews, and conversations with the press are difficult. Why then these efforts? And does it bring you any satisfaction to appear on the lists of conditional "young and promising"?
- There is not a single actor who would not be pleased with the attention of magazines, critics, viewers. When I say that I do not like to give interviews, I do not mean that it is pointless and unnecessary, I mean that it is very difficult for me. And it is true. As a person, to put it mildly, antisocial, I sometimes force myself to communicate with people. And often these people are wonderful, smart, I am interested with them, but this does not change my nature: it is difficult for me and I quickly get tired. This is more a feature of mine than a conviction. There are artists who pedal the theme of their anti-secularism, they say, they only need creativity, they are so inaccessible - this is just the same absolute hypocrisy. This does not happen, because these are two parts of the same world. In one you work hard like a miner, all dirty and breathless. And in another, in a beautiful suit, you present your films, "sell" them. Not forto make money, but so that you can make the next film and someday reach your dream, so that your hard work will be seen and appreciated by everyone, and not your two friends and a dog. This is the point. Therefore, of course, I am pleased and important all the attention that is now there, but, by virtue of my character, the process itself never brings me pleasure.
- Because of the social nature of all these processes?
- I am a control freak, a perfectionist who cares about every comma, every word, every ray of light in a photo. I can't stand unprofessionalism. Well, let's say I'm not a photographer, but I have the experience of a person who is often on the other side of the frame - I can determine when this is completely hack. It pisses me off when half of the people try to do their best, and the other half rest. And in Russia, after all, they often rest. So you can never relax. You need to be on the lookout and remember that nothing is perfect by itself, most likely, will not happen. This takes up a huge amount of energy that needs to be spent on creativity, and not on control. And in such a context, it is natural that much more than going on a conditional shooting, I want to close at home, watch backstages of cool projects and learn the language. Because I understand exactly why this should be done:every English word I learn brings me closer to a dream. This is how it works for me. But it is important to understand that this is not a belief, much less a rule. This is a character trait.
© Artem Kononenko
- What does success mean to you? The very concept that everyone interprets and measures in a very different way.
- Filming, interviews, appearances on the lists that we talked about are nice bonuses, but nothing more. It is very important to be aware of this. Without this, life is also too harsh and gray. It's great to be on such lists, it's great when they want to see you as a guest at class evenings. I'm not cunning when I admire Rami Malek, who can play an absolutely insane passionate person in Bohemian Rhapsody and Mister Robot, and then look the best at ceremonies and awards. I like it. If you do this - be in the ratings, on the covers, and so on - then it should be the best ratings and the best covers. It's a motivating cool thing. But if you really fight for such "nice bonuses", then not for "Nika" and "Golden Eagle", but at least for the "Golden Globe" and Cannes. How to fight? It's very simple - just make the best films in the world. If we are talking about bonuses, then the levels, in my opinion, should be like this. If you engage in narcissism, then it is as expensive as possible, and if you enjoy being on the lists, then be there next to Bradley Cooper and Cillian Murphy. Otherwise, you're just a cheap hypocrite.
But seriously speaking about success - for me it is determined not by the things listed above (as, I hope, for all healthy people), but by the scale of what you actually did, because the actor playing the role creates the world in which he then lives viewer. George Lucas created something that later changed our lives. This can be overlooked and denied as much as you like, but everything is interconnected, "Star Wars" has become part of our overall context. Or, for example, the very fact that Game of Thrones is now over cannot be ignored, no matter whether you watched the series or not. As many people can say that they do not like the latest episodes or that this is all "Santa Barbara", we already live in the world of "Game of Thrones", she changed the industry and the rules of the game at the root, broke all schemes. Now we are starting from this, and everything that will be done next,will now be measured on the scale of the "Game of Thrones" too. This ability - to dream, feel, conceive and, having gone through fire and water, ultimately create, no matter what - is in my understanding the only thing that we have the right to call success. And this success needs to be conveyed to people, for which there is all the red railroad hype. Everything present in art is in the golden mean. There are a lot of people walking the red carpet, but you haven't seen them in any movie. And it happens when people say: "I will play a play in the basement for 50 people, because this is important, and I do not need the rest, because this is hype and commerce." But this is the same extreme and even cowardice. If you did something, be so kind as to get people to see it, otherwise for whom did you do it? Don't go to extremes, be in the center.
© Artem Kononenko
- You do not hide the fact that between cinema and theater, at the first opportunity, you chose cinema, since it was impossible to combine both. Is the choice between cinema and music worth it? You have your own band and the first album is in the process. Does the success of Kuznetsov as an actor hinder Kuznetsov as a musician?
- Now to France I took a microphone and a small midi-keyboard with me. The question of choosing between cinema and music is not worth it and, I suppose, it will never be - these are things of equal importance to me. The only problem is that physically all this is really almost impossible to combine. But I try and I will keep looking for ways. Now I write music on weekends between shooting days. I am constantly thrown in one direction or the other. Sometimes I think that the more I would like is, conditionally, to play with McCartney, Jack White and Kasabian at the opening of the London Olympics. And then I watch big films and TV shows, which I have talked about more than once today, and I am thrown to the other side, I understand that I want to be a part of such a project, to be the main character, a knight, and so on. But the truth is that, in fact,it is the same energy and I will always be between two fires. In music, the process itself, somewhere, probably brings more pleasure, because cinema is very difficult and responsible. Sometimes it's nice, but more often than not, you just want to crawl under the pillow and pretend that I'm not in the house when the car arrives at 3:40 to pick me up on the site. There is no such thing in music, I can wake up at 3:40 at night and work in the studio with pleasure. But by importance I will never choose between them. Music and cinema for me are two strongholds on which everything stands. I can wake up at 3:40 am and enjoy working in the studio. But by importance I will never choose between them. Music and cinema for me are two strongholds on which everything stands. I can wake up at 3:40 am and enjoy working in the studio. But by importance I will never choose between them. Music and cinema for me are two strongholds on which everything stands.
- Now, filming your first international project, did you manage to notice any difference between the film process in Russia and in Europe?
- I cannot yet make too loud statements about the West, this is my first project, I only touch everything. But I can definitely say about Russia: we do not have any clear film system. In Europe, even if the project is low-budget and super-authoritative, everything will still be according to the rules, in a good way. No one can make you do miracles, because all miracles are pretty well thought out. In Russia, it is always through miracles. There are pros and cons to both. In almost all my projects, I filmed on the last breath. Survive at any cost. Of course, this adds some kind of buzz and life, but we will not go far like that. Big cinema is always mathematics, discipline and calculation, and not just feats alone. Everything should be clear.>