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“Daddy” Is My Debt to My Parents.”
The Moscow “Tabakerka” theatre (artistic director Oleg Tabakov, a well-known Russian actor) arrived in Moldova with tours about five years ago. The tours began with a performance of “Sailors’ Rest” (“Matrosskaya Tishina”) which was a visiting card of the “Tabakerka” theatre. All the performances were sold out. Unfortunately, that time Vladimir Mashkov was unable to visit Chisinau due to his poor health. In the years to follow he gained recognition not only at home, but also in the Mecca of the world cinema – Hollywood where Vladimir Mashkov was invited several times to act in different films. This year fortune was finally on our side and made our meeting with him possible. Vladimir Mashkov came to Chisinau not only as an actor, but also as a film director, co-producer and co-author of the film “Daddy”. Moldovan spectators of all age groups gave a warm reception to the première of the film. The première was followed by a press conference. Vladimir Mashkov impressed everybody with his great artistic talent as well as his human qualities such as frankness, kindness and a complete absence of “star illness”.
Welcome: Vladimir, why did you make a decision to film “Daddy”? Why didn’t you give your preference to any action movie like “Night Patrol”?
Answer: As is known the film “Daddy” is based on the play “Matrosskaya Tishina” written by Alexandr Galich in 1946. However, the play was forbidden and remained out of law for about 30 years. Later the play was given to Oleg Efremov to be staged. But Oleg Efremov decided to give it to Oleg Tabakov. The latter staged the play and Evgheny Leonov, now the deceased, played the role of Abram Schwartz. But in the end the performance was not allowed to be released. A lot of years had passed before the ban on the play was removed. After my unsuccessful studies at Novosibirsk Theatrical Institute I was lucky enough to meet Oleg Tabakov. I must confess that it was difficult enough to cope with me at that period of time: my attitude to studies was rather cool. I think that Oleg Tabakov gave me a chance to play the role of Abram Schwartz for educational purposes. His decision impressed me a lot and I began to rehearse with great enthusiasm. But with every rehearsal I was beginning to realize that I would not be able to play that role. I was only 24 years old then. Some time passed, I became a father myself, and the role of Abram Schwartz became clearer to me. I started playing the role not only on stage, but also in real life. In general I performed this role over 400 times in different countries of the world: in Japan, Germany, France… I believe that a lot was written and said about maternal love. Unfortunately paternal love has not yet been praised enough. And then I realized that I had to make the movie “Daddy”. By the way it was Serghei Glinka, my friend from Chisinau, who convinced me of that. That became a dream of my entire life. At the same time I realized that a lot of money as well as long years needed to make my dream come true.
How many years did it take to film “Daddy”? Who became the producer of the movie?
I would like to emphasize that I was ready to wait for financial assistance as much as needed. But as a result money came unexpectedly from ordinary people such as miners and metallurgists of Kuzbass whose hearts were touched by this sad story. They gave money on a gratis basis. But I hope that we will get our money’s worth.
In Chisinau, for instance, the première of the movie was sold out. Why do you think that “Daddy” is not capable of getting enough takings?
Nowadays most of the elderly have stopped going to the movies because of the lack of funds. The young who have grown up on American erotic and action films mostly go to the cinema. “Daddy” is a psychological movie, difficult to understand, it has to be seen with your heart open. I believe that cinema is one of the most important arts and it has to educate. Every parent should advise their children to see this movie.
You said that “Daddy” was your debt to your parents. Why?
This movie continues an eternal problem of “fathers and sons”. The lack of understanding occurs between fathers and their children in a certain period of life. Parents want their children to be happy, but not always can children realize that. My mother was director of a puppet theatre while my father was an actor. Both of them perished early. I felt very lonely in spite of the fact that I had a stepbrother. The feeling of a complete solitude has remained for my whole life. My father loved me very much, but I think that I didn’t manage to give him enough love as his son. That’s why “Daddy” is my return of that debt. It was essential that I should film “Daddy”.
It is a known fact that you refused to act in a number of Hollywood movies. Have fame and material wealth become secondary?
I received an interesting offer from the USA to act in the 2nd part of “Lara Croft”. But the idea of making a film and playing a leading part in it became an obsession. By that time I had already got money and had begun to give myself totally to the image and mood of Abram Schwarz. I had to grow a beard and become old. Furthermore I couldn’t allow myself to let down those people who had believed me and had given money to film “Daddy”. That’s why I had to refuse the role in the Hollywood movie.
What was more difficult: to be an actor or a film director?
It is rather difficult to answer this question immediately. I remember learning long monologues of the role of Rogozhin from “Idiot” by Dostoevsky. I had to record them on tape to keep them in mind. I had to listen to the tape forty times a day. As a result I succeeded in giving myself totally to the image and mood of my hero. I think acting is more difficult.
Is this your debut as film director?
Everybody compares a film director with the captain of a ship: your ship will sail as smoothly as you navigate it. It took five months to film “Daddy” and let me just tell you about one shooting day. I usually woke up early in the morning and thought the plan of rehearsals over. Just imagine that there were 600 mass actors! It was necessary to arrange all of them correctly, to render the atmosphere of that time maximally. It took two-three hours only for rehearsals with six-hour day duration. Above all my role was one of the leading ones. In the theatre it is possible to change something after the first performance while in the cinema you cannot change anything after you have shot all the scenes. Being a film director is both difficult and uncommon to me.
In the movie you succeeded in showing all aspects of life of the people of the Communist era. What helped you restore the atmosphere of that time?
First of all I used to live in the Soviet times. Secondly I had to look through hundreds of tapes about the times my heroes lived in. I wanted to bring that time back into existence. I think that I succeeded in achieving my goal.
Your previous roles are mostly lovers, gangsters and oligarchs. In this movie you played an old man who took to drinking because of his unsuccessful life. Your character is deprived of women’s love and all his love goes to his only son. He looks miserable and defenseless. This role has nothing to do with the previous ones.
From my point of view a talented actor should be capable of playing any role: both positive characters and negative ones. Your acting must be equally good so that the spectator could believe you. Life is a rather long period of time. In its course people themselves usually change, and beliefs may be altered. I have never been afraid of being different.
Recently movies about the life of the Jews have been filmed, especially after the movie “The Pianist” which even won several prizes at the 2002 Oscar ceremony. Is “Daddy” a tribute to these trends?
I think that such movies have been appearing in world cinema recently due to the fact that all the bans on the subject were removed. In the end of the movie my character found himself in the Jewish ghetto and perished. In the years of the Second World War about 6 million Jews were sent to death. According to the screenplay I showed the despair of the Jewish people only superficially. My movie also says that such horrors must not be allowed to happen.
The Pianist won several prizes at the 2002 Oscar ceremony while Daddy got the Prize of the Audience Sympathy at the Moscow Film Festival. The love of the audience is a high award for me. The movie goes to Israel after Chisinau.
Do you have many friends in Chisinau?
I am a very sociable person. I had a chance to study in Moldova for three years. Igor Caras became my close friend. He is one of the most talented Moldovan actors and his name is well-known beyond Moldova.
Do you plan to perform in a film in the nearest future?
I received an invitation from Philip Yankovsky, a young Russian film director, to play a role of a gangster in the movie “Statsky Sovetnik”. I was also invited to perform in the movie “Impracticable Mission – 3” in Hollywood. The shooting will take place in Germany. Also I have a dream to stage “The Dog’s Heart” by Bulgakov.
What could you wish our readers?
Go to the movies.
Interviewed by Ludmila Mamaliga