Actor's Dream of Playing Rasputin
Coming True in Russia

Gerard Depardieu as Rasputin (Photo: dvinaland.ru).

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French actor Gerard Depardieu will star in a French-Russian film under the working title “Rasputin” where he will play a Russian historical character. The filming has been under way in Russia since April 3rd.

Grigori Rasputin was a controversial figure in Russian history. On the one hand, he was a pious elder and a faith healer, on the other - a wicked charlatan who succeeded in influencing the latter days of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his family. In his own acknowledgement, Gerard Depardieu had been dreaming of playing Rasputin for 20 years. It’s no wonder then that Depardieu was the one to suggest making a film about Rasputin which the French producer said would “cast an unbiased view on this tragic chapter of Russian history”. The film focuses on the last years of Rasputin’s life, from 1914 to 1916, when he became a confidant and personal adviser to Tsaritsa Alexandra, played by outstanding French actress Fanny Ardant. Rasputin’s influence over Tsaritsa Alexandra outraged the public to such an extent that they organized a conspiracy and killed the elder.

Meanwhile, Gerard Depardieu says that there is no need to portray Rasputin a worse villain than he really was or exaggerate his influence over the imperial family. For Depardieu, Rasputin is associated with the Russian soul. He shared his views of Russian people as he met with Russian TV journalists covering the film making process.

They are after something that they do have already but they don’t understand they have it, so they want more and more….

The first scenes were made in the Russian North, on the territory of the Maly Korely Museum near the old city of Arkhangelsk. Maly Korely embraces 120 monuments of old wooden architecture.

The structures and surrounding landscape are listed as valuable historical monuments. Even though Rasputin grew up in a Siberian village, tentative shots in Arkhangelsk demonstrated that the Maly Korely Museum was a perfect site for a film about him. The Museum’s employee Svetlana Glazycheva has this to say.

Our landscape is similar to Siberian and our 19th century structures and 16th century bell tower bear the spirit of the time. Besides, there is a lot of snow, and according to the script, the scene is set in winter. It’s a pity that it rained for two days and the filming crew sat idle. It rained non-stop on the first day, and sow began to melt in some places. There were showers on the second day. And on the third day it was frosty and the sun was shining but the crew had left.

Despite the rain, Gerard Depardieu enjoyed the trip and the place and he praised the museum for its particular atmosphere. Svetlana Glazycheva comments.

Depardieu never lost his temper or showed displeasure, even when he was working in the rain. He is friendly, easy-going and ever smiling. He gives one hundred percent in front of a camera. He gave a sweet smile when museum employees came up to him for a photo. He receives energy from people he communicates with after filming.

The filming is now under way in St.Petersburg, where most scenes with Grigori Rasputin take place and where Gerard Depardieu feels so much at home that he opened his own restaurant there.

Sources: The Voice of Russia
9 April, 2011