Saturday, 14 May 2011
Vasily Livanov: Great Russian Sherlock Holmes
Apart from the actor’s talent Vasily Livanov is gifted in other ways as well: as a scriptwriter, a film director, a writer and an artist. Many cult personages of classical Russian animated cartoon films speak with his voice. Yet, Livanov’s most legendary film role is that of Sherlock Holmes in the film series about the famous detective – even British critics called this image one of the best cinematic portrayals of this popular character of Arthur Conan Doyle.
Vasily Borisovich Livanov was born on July 19, 1935 in Moscow into the family of the notable actor Boris Livanov and the professional artist Evgenia Kazimirovna Livanova. His father was a leading actor of the Moscow Art Theatre and also starred in the popular films Dubrovskiy (1935), Minin and Pozharsky (1939), Admiral Ushakov (1953), and others.
In 1954 Vasily Livanov finished Art School at the Academy of Fine Arts and passed entrance exams to the Surikov Art Institute, but then changed his mind in favour of becoming an actor like his father. In 1958 he graduated from the Shchukin Theatre School and was admitted to Vakhtangov Theatre yet did not work there for more than a year. In 1959 he was invited to play one of the leading roles in Mikhail Kalatozov’s film Neotpravlennoye pismo (The Letter That Was Never Sent) (1959).
After the filming was over the famous film director Yuli Raizman advised to the beginning actor: You will be very much in films. Very much. I am telling it to you from my experience as a film director. So if you are not very much engaged in theatre, then leave it. Vasily Livanov followed the advice by moving to the Film Actor’s Theatre-Studio, which he also left soon, in 1964 – he had lot of work, just like the master of national cinema had predicted.
Close on the heels of his film debut Vasily Livanov starred in Tatyana Lukashevich’s drama Slepoy muzykant (Blind Musician) (1960) (after the same-name novel by V. Korolenko). It is the only picture where Vasily chanced to play together with his father Boris Livanov.
The talented actor soon turned very popular and was often invited to play the leads. In the sci-fi film Sud sumasshedshikh (Judgment of Fools) (1961) he starred as a young scientist, Professor Johannes Werner who discovers life-giving power rays. In Aleksey Sakharov’s picture Kollegi (The Colleagues) (1962) Vasily Livanov together with Vasili Lanovoy and Oleg Anofriyev played young doctors. It is interesting to note that later he happened to play doctors not once. For example in the comedy Zelyonyy ogonyok (The Green Flame) (1965) he got a small role of a surgeon.
In 1963 Vasily Livanov splendidly handled the complicated role of Felix Dserzhinsky in the historical picture Sinyaya tetrad (The Blue Notebook) directed by Lev Kulidzhanov. ...