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Of the 90 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Russia’s Alexander Nevsky is the only one with a busy career as an actor, screenwriter, producer and director. On Jan. 19, his latest film — the international thriller Showdown in Manila — will hit theaters. Written, produced and toplined by Nevsky, the international thriller also stars Casper Van Dien and Tia Carrere. The film is his ode to The Expendables (“I loved that movie, and I was trying to get together people who deserved to be in Expendables but didn’t make it,” says the three-time Mr. Universe.). Later this year, he will celebrate his 10th film, Maximum Impact, starring opposite Danny Trejo, Tom Arnold and Kelly Hu. As an HFPA member for 14 years, he’s never been forced to bow out of voting due to a conflict of interest (“Unfortunately, my movies are not exactly Golden Globe material,” he quips.) On the eve of this year’s Golden Globes ceremony, Nevsky talked to The Hollywood Reporter about an awards season without Harvey Weinstein, his top film picks of the year, and why Russia is unfairly getting a bad rap here in the U.S.
This year marks the first Golden Globes without Harvey Weinstein. How has that changed the awards-season campaigning?
I saw him personally many times over that 15 years, right? I wish I knew what was going on. I feel sad now because I didn’t punch him in his freaking face. I will wear black at the Golden Globes this year. But to be honest with you, I don’t think he was really ruthless when he was campaigning. I think he was really smart, and that’s why it always worked. And plus, he really had brilliant movies. So, for me, no, I don’t feel it’s different this year because he’s not around. I feel sad that I cannot personally punish him.
What was your favorite movie of the year?
I don’t know if I’m allowed to say or not, but I definitely was blown away by Gary Oldman and The Darkest Hour. What he did is unbelievable. I like Churchill books because I’m a big history fan, and I watched a lot of Churchill films before. But what Gary Oldman did, I mean, it’s unbelievable. I also loved The Disaster Artist and Molly’s Game. And I can understand all the pressure Aaron Sorkin had because it was his directorial debut.
Russia is obviously in the news today constantly. What’s your take on the coverage here in the U.S.?
I understand perfectly what is going on. I was born in Soviet Union. I went on the flight once, and I watched three movies in a row. The first one was November Man, with Pierce Brosnan killing Russians. Second one was Taken 3, with Liam Neeson killing Russians. And the third one was The Equalizer, with Denzel Washington killing Russians. In all my movies, Russia and America fight against evil together, not against each other. I’m completely against anti-Russian stereotypes. I was supposed to do a 2001 movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Charlton Heston called The Order. Avi Lerner produced it. They wanted me to play a bad Russian guy. For me, it looked like a chance to get well connected. But I didn’t do that. I didn’t do that because I didn’t want to betray my audience in Russia, and also, I didn’t want to portray Russians like that onscreen. I knew that it’s wrong.
So, from your perspective, is Putin accurately portrayed in the media here?
I moved to California in 1999 for one simple reason. I was household name in Russia already, and I did TV, books, magazines, everything. There was one thing I couldn’t do: movies. Because the movie industry was destroyed after the Soviet Union collapsed. And all the total Russian industry in 1999 was about $2 million. Last year, it was $1.5 billion. Putin and his team changed the country, changed the economy. It’s really easy to talk about bad things because it will grab attention — all the negativity that we have on CNN, even on Fox, about Russia, about politics in Russia. But when [Stephen] Colbert was in Moscow, I think he was amazed because he met so many nice Russian people, and they liked him. It should be more shows like that. We should put more positive things out. We shouldn’t allow another Cold War. We shouldn’t do that because Russia and America are the two greatest countries. With all due respect to everyone else, we should be friends.
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