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The success story of Irina Brodskaya: how a Russian actress conquered Hollywood, starred with Christopher Coppola and made friends with Nicolas Cage

The life of actress Irina Brodskaya in Russia seemed to be the embodiment of her wildest dreams. A graduate of the Nizhny Novgorod Theater School, she played in the Moscow Stanislavsky Theater and starred in famous films and TV series. Irina's husband, economist Nikita Brodsky, defended his Ph.D. thesis in economics at the age of 23 and became an assistant professor at Moscow State University. At the same time, the young man worked in the Moscow City Telephone Network, where he headed the planning department, and then worked at the Higher School of Economics.

Photo courtesy of Irina Brodskaya

However, in 2011 the family decided to move to the United States, where Irina had to start her career almost from scratch. Now, a little over ten years later, Irina Brodskaya is acting in the films of the famous American director Christopher Coppola, familiar with Nicolas Cage, plays in English in performances based on Shakespeare, and teaches children and adults acting skills. About how difficult it was for a Russian actress to break into the United States and how Russian viewers differ from American ones, Irina spoke in an interview with Forum Daily.

Theater and cinema

The girl began to play professionally on stage from the third year of school - at the Gorky Drama Theater in her native Nizhny Novgorod.

«I pretty quickly started to play the main roles in performances, I got fans, and I remember that sometimes people asked for autographs even in the store. It was so unusual!", - recalls the actress.

It was at the theater that Irina met her future husband Nikita.

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«By that time, he already lived in Moscow, but at that time he had just arrived in his hometown to write a dissertation. She and her mother went to the play "A Month in the Country", where I played a typical "Turgenev young lady" Vera Alexandrovna. It was his mother who first drew attention to me.“- says Irina.

In the same place, in Nizhny Novgorod, Irina Brodskaya participated in the filming of "The Barber of Siberia" Nikita Mikhalkov, where she played one of the ladies in the retinue of the governor's wife. After moving to Moscow a few years later, she began working at the Stanislavsky Theater.

Photo courtesy of Irina Brodskaya

«When I came to get a job there, I was already in the second month of pregnancy, but I hid it and started working and rehearsing, like everyone else. A few months later, of course, I had to tell the truth, but the director was willing to wait until I could return to work after giving birth.", - recalls the actress.

According to Irina, preparations for performances in Moscow were more difficult and longer than in the provinces, which created a feeling of a continuous creative process. Irina managed to work with various directors, including Vladimir Mirzoev, Spivak seeds и Mikhail Kazakov. In parallel, the actress began to appear roles in films and TV shows, including "Two Fates", "You are my happiness", "Web-4" and others. At first it was episodic roles, then more characteristic characters.

Nevertheless, Irina admits: the spouses began to have thoughts about a possible move abroad back in 2008. The first impulse was the financial crisis, but then more serious problems appeared.

«MSU graduates were seen as a "reserve" for the so-called "economic bloc" of the Russian government. At first, Nikita sincerely dreamed of participating in the development of the Russian economy, but over the years, understanding how everything works in the system, he became more and more disillusioned with it. Meanwhile, administrative pressure on economists and entrepreneurs increased, corruption grew, which greatly jarred him.", - Irina recalls.

American theater

Finding a job abroad was not easy, but Nikita managed to enroll at Stanford University and the family moved to California. Just before immigration, the couple had a second child - daughter Polina. Despite this, Irina literally immediately began to look for work in her specialty, first in Russian-language theaters.

«In parallel, I took various classes and courses at Stanford, including those taught by San Francisco theater directors. The first theater I found in the Gulf area was the Russian-language Yu Theater. I played in two of his performances, while still a nursing mother. theater director, Alexander Liznenkovturned out to be a true professional. As it turned out, he also studied in Nizhny Novgorod, and we had the same teachers. Sasha is a very deep director and an amazing intellectual", - Irina recalls.

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In parallel with the work, Irina took a special intensive on Shakespeare at the California theater Berkeley Rap School of Theater. Her first experience of playing in English began during her studies, on the stages of Stanford and Berkeley. According to the actress, the American theater is significantly different from the Russian one.

«Americans are used to working very quickly, putting on performances literally in the same breath, in a jerk. Accordingly, the actors do not think through the roles so thoroughly and deeply, as is customary in our tradition. In addition, the difference is also felt in the language: English is much more concise, which encourages us to convey meanings faster than ours, without significant “MKhAT pauses”", - Irina shares her impressions.

According to her, on average, among the actors of American theaters there are more amateurs than it was in Russia. However, there are exceptions.

«For example, in Oridna there is a very high professional theater California Shakespeare Theater, which specializes in productions of Shakespeare. Working there is my dream, but I understand that I still have room to grow. But even amateur actors for whom this work is not the main one are very talented people."She notes.

At the same time, according to Irina, the reactions of American viewers are simpler and more direct than Russian ones.

«I remember when I was singing at one of the shows at Stanford, and the audience started yelling “wow” and clapping without waiting for the song to finish. It is not customary for us to demonstrate our emotions in the theater, and the actors do not know how much the audience liked their performance until the end of the performance. It's not customary to hide your reactions here.", - the actress shares her observations.

"Othello", Christopher Coppola and Nicolas Cage

After some time, Alexander Liznenkov invited Irina to try herself as a witch in the English-language play "Macbeth" on the stage of the Phoenix Theater in San Francisco (Phoenix Theatre) and introduced her to the American actor and producer of this production Byron Hay (Byron High). At this performance, Irina met the director Christopher Coppola (Christopher Coppola), whose youngest son also played in Macbeth.

Photo courtesy of Irina Brodskaya

«Bringing his son, Christopher constantly watched our game. It was then that she and Byron came up with the idea to make a film based on this performance. We filmed at night, at the Art Institute, and there really was a Shakespearean atmosphere: stairs, some strange structures. Christopher turned out to be a real master - he knows how to work with shadows, play with light, and this is very interesting to watch. By moving the light and the camera, he seems to lead the viewer from one actor to another, switching his attention to every new detail.“- says Irina.

Thanks to her work with Coppola, the actress managed to meet Christopher's brother, Nicolas Cage. True, meeting a Hollywood celebrity turned out to be somewhat funny.

«Coppola came to the presentation of one of his films with his brother, but I did not recognize his brother because he was wearing a cowboy hat that partially covered his face. For some reason I thought that this was the eldest son of Christopher. As a result, I just told him: “Hi!”. Only later was I informed that it was Nicolas Cage.", - admits Irina.

According to her, playing in a foreign language is not so different from playing in Russian.

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«The language gives the melody, the sound of phrases, but in general, the main thing is to convey the meaning to the viewer. This goal is the same in any language. By the way, Americans are also interested in human psychology. Just recently, we finished filming another Shakespeare-based film, Othello, with Christopher Coppola and Byron Hay. Byron played Iago, and I played his wife, Emilia. Now we are rehearsing Chekhov, and also in English. By the way, the director is the same Alexander Liznenkov. While we are talking about the play, but perhaps Christopher will also want to film it", - says the actress.

In addition to acting, Irina Brodskaya discovered the talent of a teacher in herself. For several years she has been working with Russian-speaking children in acting and staging performances.

«When I studied and worked, I myself did not imagine that I could stage children's performances, but now I am doing just that. And this is a great joy. In addition, my girlfriend and partner and I Irina Gruminskaya created the Art of Life team. We organize theatrical and musical evenings throughout the Bay Area, including those with the invitation of world-famous stars. These events are very popular in the diaspora.", - shares the actress.

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