Friday, 21 March 2008

Oleg Menshikov

I read some news article once, many years ago, about the male celebrities that according to some poll appealed the most to women in Russia. I can't find it anymore, but it somehow tried to make the point that Russian women are more into intellect than looks. But one of the men who ranked the highest (and the only one whose name I actually remember to this day) was Oleg Menshikov, who most certainly has not only intellect but also dashing good looks ...

Menshikov in Брызги шампанского (1988).

Maybe it's just that Russian women have a better different taste in looks than 'Westerners'. When I was in Russia, I remember how it struck me that there were so many nice-looking guys in Russian advertisements everywhere - something that I'd never experienced in any other countries I had visited.


During the filming of Лестница, 1989.

Menshikov was born in Serpukhov in the vicinity of Moscow. Soon, the family moved to Moscow, and settled down in a two-room apartment in a 'Chruschev' apartment block. Early on, they noticed that Oleg had a great interest in music and a certain gift for acting, and so they got him a violin and let him visit a music school. Oleg was never the brightest kid in class, but "the sharp narcissism of his nature never allowed him to get poorer results than the others", according to classmate Larisa Chesnokova. He also enjoyed seeing plays and operettas with his friends, twice a week even. By the time he had finished 10th class, he was certain that he wanted to become a performer. After finishing music school, he entered the M. S. Schepkin Higher Institute of Theatre.

Sporting a fur hat in his youth.

Since his gradution from the institute, Menshikov has performed in numerous plays and films. Some of the most well-known internationally might be Burnt by the Sun (1994), Prisoner of the Mountains (1996), and East-West (1999). Even Nikita Mikhalkov's rather bizarre and pathetic The Barber of Siberia (1998) is okay to watch, because Menshikov, though he is a 38 year old guy acting in the role of a cadet in his early twenties, is ... well, good-looking.

As Irina writes in her Cozy Corner, "Since late 80-s O. Menshikov has become sex symbol of Russian movie. His ironical smile, clever eyes, nervous movements fascinated almost every woman's heart."

In The Barber of Siberia.

In 2006, Menshikov also starred as Doctor Zhivago in the Russian-produced TV series that many Russians had long been waiting for, having been irritated by daffodils and thermometers in people's mouths for far too long. Certainly, while there were some things that could be improved in David Lean's 1965 movie, Yuri Zhivago must be played by someone with cute button eyes, like Omar Sharif. Lucky they got Oleg Menshikov.

Above - saving a lamb, and below - in bed, in Полоса препятствий (1984).

All photos are from Oleg Menshikov's official website.


ainur said...

Just the fact that he has played Dr Zhivago, Ostap Bender, AND detective Fandorin... as the Italians would say, mitico!

Tinet said...

Oh no! I forgot to mention Ostap Bender ... Here is some sort of trailer for The Golden Calf, Menshikov version.