Vera Glagoleva, Russian Actress Who Directed Ralph Fiennes in 'Two Women,' Dies at 61

Courtesy of Vladivostok Pacific-Meridian International Film Festival
Ralph Fiennes and Anna Astrakhantseva in 'Two Women' (2014)

Glagoleva, who began her acting career on stage and film in the 1970s, later helmed five features.

Russian actress and director Vera Glagoleva has died at a German clinic where she was being treated for cancer. She was 61.

Her death was announced late Wednesday by family and friends in Russia in a number of messages on social media platforms.

Natalia Ivanova, who produced Glagoleva's final film in 2014, Two Women, a 19th-century period piece based on Ivan Turgenev's play A Month in the Country that starred Ralph Fiennes, wrote on Facebook that Glagoleva was not only a "favorite actress" and director but also a "guardian angel, friend and accomplice."

Ivanova, who produces through her Moscow-based company Khorosho Productions, said that she and Glagoleva had worked together for 13 years and "made almost four movies," adding, "Today we are all orphaned."

Ivanova also said that the BBC and Russian state broadcaster VGTRK had recently bought TV rights to Two Women.

Glagoleva, who was born Jan. 31, 1956, rose to fame playing roles in theater and film in 1970s Soviet productions after attracting the attention of director Rodio Nahapetov in her first movie part in Na Kray Sveta (At the End of the World) in 1975. The two were later married.

Glagoleva's delicate beauty and dark, soulful eyes won her many more roles and a huge following in Russia that earned her prizes and plaudits that included being named a People's Artist of Russia -— one of the country's highest cultural awards, something Russian President Vladimir Putin noted when he conveyed his condolences in an official Kremlin announcement late Wednesday.

Glagoleva is remembered for roles in films that include Tigran Keosayan's 1995 feature Bednaya Sasha (Poor Sasha) and 1991's Slomannyy svet (Broken Light), which also marked her debut as a director.

In 2010, her feature film One War — about a group of women and children found abandoned on a remote island at the end of World War II — won the grand prize at the Sochi Film Festival, Russia's top domestic cinema event.

In recent years, she devoted herself to directing and reportedly persuaded Fiennes to learn Russian for Two Women, in which he played a character who attracts the jealous attentions of a pair of young ladies.

Fiennes told The Hollywood Reporter that he was "devastated" to hear the news of Glagoleva's death.

"I am deeply saddened," the actor said. "She was a huge, brave spirit of strength and humor and love. She always beat me at chess. I feel blessed to have known her and worked with her. It was a happy and unforgettable time. I shall miss her laughter and love of life. It is a terrible loss."

Glagoleva was last seen in public in Moscow in July when she attended her daughter Nastaya Shubskaya's wedding to Russian NHL star Alexander Ovechkin.

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