Vladimir Simonov actor can play all

Publication date: 6 November 2012

Author: Elena Ragozhina

Issue: New Style

"... The actor can play all - from the bed bug to the lunar lander, from the sink to the wall outlet. He can play even wallpaper ", - says Vladimir Simonov; and not only say, but does: amazing art of transformation-reincarnation is one of the main components of the talent of this deep and versatile actor. In the most paradigmatic roles in the classical repertoire Simonov manages to move away from cliches, to stun the audience by an unexpected interpretation of the character.

This fall, from 5th to 10th of November at the Noel Coward Theatre in a period of Vakhtangov Theatre the London audience can see for themselves: such Professor Serebryakov in Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" they have never seen yet...


Vladimir Simonov – Russian theater and film actor. Born June 7, 1957 in Oktyabr'sk town of Kuibyshev (now - Samara) regions. He graduated from the ShchukinTheaterSchool (1980, A. Kazanskaya course). In the same year he joined the Vakhtangov Theater.  

In 1983 he accepted an offer of O. Yefremov to join the MoscowArtTheater, where he worked for 6 years. In 1989 he again joined the Vakhtangov Company, where he works now.

He has worked with such directors as M. Schweitzer, A. Efros, P. Fomenko, I. Dykhovichny, V. Mirzoev, R. Tuminas.

He participated in the performances of the Stanislavski Theater, Theatre of Nations, and «Et cetera» theater.

 He acted in over 80 films and TV series.

Every person who has decided to devote himself to acting dreams of the big roles. You have become famous not when you were 25, but much later. What were your feelings?

I became famous not in a moment, not suddenly, if you I ever became...

You became!

Well, thank God, the artist needs it. Fame came to me gradually. You know how it is when a nurse makes a shot, if very slowly, you do not feel almost anything, and if hard and fast - then it really hurt. When the actor becomes famous too quickly, then the consequences could be very different – either euphoria occurs, or you run crazy, or megalomania begins. I got it happened gradually, as the kids at school are moving from class to class. There was no effect of the Robertino Loreti when he lost his voice later. However, now, when I feel prepared enough to not go off the rails, I would not mind if something significant happened in my life. However I am very happy with what happens in the theater, and I feel myself very harmonious.

In the theater, there is a new director, new plays ...

With director Rimas Tuminas the Vakhtangov Theatre - and in parallel in my acting life - a new era has begun. Roles in Troilus and Cressida, Uncle Vanya, The wind rustles the poplars – is a new period in my work, it is associated with the arrival of Rimas. This man is alone the theater: his philosophy and vision of the world, "medical" interpretation - understanding of what people currently inhabiting our planet need; what problems they have; what they should remember, and what we have to remind people. And in this sense, I follow him.

It's awesome that your feelings are tuned.

Yes, because before Rimas I was a little lost. Outwardly, everything went well, but the depth of the profession, understanding of good theater of the ability to be a tribune, to mirror reality was not felt at some point.

With director Rimas Tuminas the Vakhtangov Theatre - and in parallel in my acting life - a new era has begun. Roles in Troilus and Cressida, Uncle Vanya, The wind rustles the poplars– is a new period in my work, it is associated with the arrival of Rimas.

Your role in the Uncle Vanya caused a lot of rave reviews. Naturally, this is not your first encounter with Chekhov. What is new, in your opinion, the Tuminas has introduced in reading one of the most famous plays of the writer?

A pleasant surprise was my very assignment for the role of Professor Serebryakov. In my fifty plus to play such an old man seemed a little strange. Usually actors represent characters 10-20 years younger than they are, and here is the contrary. I asked Rimas: what shall I do - to depict age? "No," - he said. Then I suggested that I would play Serebryakov the way I imagined when he played uncle Vanya. I had seen many versions of Uncle Vanya and, as a rule, Serebryakov in these plays was sitting on a gurney. But I thought to myself (though forgive me Anton Pavlovich!): Well, not all professors in Russia have to be on a gurney! And even if Serebryakov is unwell, he's still not sitting in that chair 24 hours a day, and gets up and moves. In the end, the creators of the play are the director Rimas and we the actors. And the times have changed, and to show Chekhov to the now we also need to change, to show it in a different way - but without changing a single word of the author's text. There is no sense to stage the earlier performance play - you need to produce the play! I was surprised that Rimas eventually agreed to my version of Serebryakov and my interpretation of the situation, although at the first he opposed. But he was curious, and he went to this, I think it a kind of heroism. You can’t be in the theater without feats; you have to surprise the audience - even with small steps or moves, but to surprise.

It’s hard to say. I am no longer an actor. There are two points of view: the actor who is always known to the audience wanting him never to change - no matter what he plays - Tolstoy, vaudeville or modern drama. He can not change from role to role. These are not mine. For me the class is when no one knows me when I am on the stage. If you declared yourself an actor, then kindly, transform, play. In this sense, the phrase of Stanislavsky, we must love the art in ourselves, not ourselves in the art, is very close to me. I appreciate art in myself, and not myself in the art.

When you are offered a new role, what does affect your decision – to take it, or not?

I try to choose something that is close to me, but it is not always possible. Sometimes you have to serve the accounting – I have wives, children, I have to earn...

Such is life ... I think that every divorce is a tragedy for all participants.

Certainly. Life is all the tragedy and trauma.

Perhaps I do not agree with you. In many ways, it depends on the person – whether he is a pessimist or an optimist.

Do not agree. But life is a struggle that’s for sure, and once you forced to fight it is not good. How cool would it be – sit in the lotus position and sit quietly, and the Earth itself is spinning, the sun is shining. Watch and wait when everything pass; take care of this little box called a "body", where your soul lives ... But no, in the whole of human history the same thing is repeated: "And I do not like the way you sit. I want you to sit in a different way." And off we go ... Here you have the whole Uncle Vanya, all what the Chekhov is based on.

And could you just sit there?

And no one can. If someone can - it's just wonderful. And I just can not sit still. I believe that the feelings are sent to a person either by nature or God, and if the feeling was sent to me, I can not give it up - because if I do not it I will suffer even more. All this is very difficult.

Your son is playing in your theater. I saw him play in the anniversary performance "The Pier".

Last time I saw him in "The Possessed", and I have not seen his new work yet. Son is developing normally in his profession; I do not see any abnormalities. And the theater and all the rest is the chance. The main thing is - to be always ready for it – in part of the health, and of the talent. I hope my son has it all for success.


Do you have favorite roles?

No favorites – there are more fresh and desirable. Perhaps, this is like in the harem: with this wife I live fifty years together, and this one just came - perhaps she would be more interesting. Such Mormon things! All roles are favorites - as the children who just can not be unloved. And the problem roles with all their shortcomings you love even more trying to pull them to the right level. Once roles are created, sent you by theatrical god - they should be loved.

Uncle Vanya was chosen for the tour to London.

This was the solution of tour producer and director. Maybe because Chekhov is well known here this is a classic, well-known brand.

Vakhtangov Theatre has toured extensively. Do you feel the difference in the audience's reaction to your play?

Yes, we feel the difference, but it is not torn from minus to plus, and varies in a positive range. Somewhere they watch quieter, but then thank warmly, somewhere they perceive vividly every second, every moment - it always depends on the personality of the audience, country, season, the number of spectators, there are many factors. It's like in a conversation: a person either opens immediately or is closed until the end, but then gives such gratitude! But until now on the road with Uncle Vanya we have never experienced a denial of the public - it was always a positive pulse.

Are there roles that you like to play?

Yes, there are, and I talked about them to Rimas and one other director. These roles are more of a philosophical role, to help humanity. As Oleg Efremov said once, "All is well but do not forget, please, you are people." It's so simple, but people sometimes forget that they are not gods, not monsters, not businessmen, not judges, but simply - people. We do not we move this ball, this planet, we have not got it, and we must remember that someone is responsible for it all.