Andrey Zhitinkin

Андрей Житинкин

Director, People’s Artist of the RF

I worked with Sergey on three plays – “Just Looney / Psikh”, “Old Quarter” and “Confessions of the Adventurer Felix Krul’”; he played the hero in each. When I saw him at the Satire Theatre Jubilee event he was amazingly charming, charismatic, light, and he reminded me of the young Andrey Mironov in the “Profitable Place”. Such a sunny, radiant boy. When I was starting work on “Just Looney” I took a gamble on him. The “Psikh” is such a laugh on the edge of an abyss. The setting is a Russian Asylum, and there is nothing scarier than a Russian “madhouse”. Sergey possesses a really healthy psyche. In general, youngsters are better protected in life these days. Their sense of self-preservation is stronger, and this is illustrated in the play’s humour and jokes; that’s why many people see the play as a comedy, not a drama. In the finale our hero, a boy who got entangled in his own made-up world, has hanged himself.

I placed my bet at that time on an unknown actor, not a star. As a result, the “Psikh” that saw the light of day thanks to Tabakov, became a cult play and now the Bezrukov’s fans (“bezrukavki”) come to see it again and again. Overnight Bezrukov, who played in “Psikh” and “Esenin” in the theatre named after M.N. Ermolova, became known to all Moscow theater-goers.

He plays odd roles, strange heroes, certainly creative people (two budding writers in “Psikh” and “The Old Quarter”; even Krul’ writes to his godfather very elaborate letters). He can play talented people – people with a gift from above. Esenin, Mozart… In real life Sergey himself is as light as Mozart.

Sergey can show us his hero evolving. In “Just Looney” – he goes from playing a game to choosing death; from being the conqueror, a victor playing “hard games” with himself and his own life, to a hunted down prey; in “Felix Krul” – from a sunny boy posing as divine Hermes to a monster. When you hear his reading of Hitler’s monologue “Mein Kampf“ you can see Hitler – disgusting, bloated, scary. It would not surprise me if he plays Richard III. But if he gets stuck in boyish roles and after some years turns into a grey-haired “elderly boy”, well… He needs to find a way out of boyish roles. And another thing – he should not try on the character of Rogozhin. He has a God-given talent; he is as charismatic as Figaro – the happy joker in a crowd, the clever person in solitude. I am very much interested in pushing him off his current track and shunting him on to become a young man.

Sergey is a workaholic. It’s a trait common in stars, as is having high expectations of his own work– to the point of masochism. I would not like those traits (plus his decency and sense of responsibility) to be exploited by entrepreneurs or movie-makers.

As a public person he must always be charismatic. He is absolutely a character actor. He is like a human fountain.

At first Tabakov wanted to cast Igor Nefiodov as Felix Krul. Then tragically we lost Igor. And when the questioned of who should play the hero was again raised, he said: “Sergey Bezrukov”.

His ears are always pricked, he misses nothing. But there is a downside to this. He is an attention seeker. Sometimes he worries that he is losing his fans: there are fewer flowers, etc… But in “Felix Krul” he performed in such a way that another quality shone through. I would like to see him portray Alex in “Clockwork Orange” – he would immerse himself in that role. He plays with unplanned emotions, spontaneous reactions: “live”. That’s a very rare thing in theatre today.