After success on the Moscow stage the Russian actress Yulia Yudina moved to California to start her career in Hollywood. She already managed to act the feature film, series and also took classes in several American actor’s schools. This young actress has already finished three universities, got her diplomas of the The Mikhail Shchepkin Higher Theatre School in Moscow and the New York Film Academy, she was in a bunch of performances and several movies in Russia which became reliable basis for a new round in career of the actress.
In an exclusive interview to CutInsight magazine Yulia Yudina told about how better to start working if you are fresher in Hollywood, what the main differences between Russian and American actor’s schools and also how important to try yourself in the very different positions in film industry.
What a role you had in Kirill Serebrennikov’s performance Machine Müller in Gogol center in Moscow?
About two thousand actors passed through a casting for this performance. I was invited in this project personally after the first immersive show in Russia Black Russian where I participated. That project differed because of being immersive where there was no distance between actors and the audience. It was very courageous actor’s experience.
Machine Müller was born from two works by the German playwright Heiner Müller. Initially this project supposed to be staged in the Moscow Art Theatre. Later location changed to Gogol Center because of its provocativeness.
Every time playing my role I found new senses because Serebrennikov`s directing was so ingeniously. During these show I endured regeneration from a divine being who came to the world perfect, to gray civil crowd.
When I was invited to the show Kirill had already had worries regarding project Platform. But, despite it, he was very attentive to me, came to me and told me: “I am very happy that now you are one of our team”. I felt his support, he stood behind the scenes and worried about me despite his situation. I infinitely admire Kirill!
Was it difficult to change Moscow theatre for the Hollywood movie world where you plan to act? After all, these are completely different types of acting, different ideology, different formats.
The cinema and theater are a brother and the sister beyond any doubts, however they differ from each other. For example, we actively worked with the audience as with partners in Black Russian Show, but worked as if we did it on camera, very accurate, because viewers were always at arm’s length and it was ridiculous to use grand theatre gestures. Cinema bet on close ups, an exact intention, eyes, movements which is just distinguish from theater and its scale.
What the difference between principles of teaching acting in Moscow and Los Angeles?
Actors in Russia study four years under which they master skills. Then they obtain the diploma which grants them the right to be hired to theater. In the USA actors pass auditions to identify their level and that course can last from one month to one year if we do not speak about Julliard School and Yale University. Also students can choose disciplines they want to learn. We are often given scripts in class, rehearse and showcase to people from the industry. You can build relationships with your employers this way.
An actor can be called one who is often auditioning and who sign the contract. Then you can be called demanded. Otherwise, you can study decades, master new abilities, but never be on set. I think credit is very important criterion of actor’s success in Hollywood. It is like students reputation that works for ages for you.
If a young actor came to Hollywood from other country and wants to start his acting career, then where better to start?
First of all calm down. You will have a desire but you shouldn`t run to actor’s classes hell-for-leather, do very expensive headshots or try to find background job. It doesn`t work. It takes time to understand Los Angeles, to fill its vibe, realize your place in this world and then make decisions. Perhaps you will see that these classes doesn`t work for you. A lot of things depend on luck. Networking is very important. For example, I took course in Hollywood Actor`s Showcase. It rather opened doors to interesting film projects than improved my acting skills.
It is hard to work on American accent for many foreign actors. How do you cope with this task?
I work hard regularly with my accent reduction speech coach. Besides I try to repeat a manner of speaking having been wrapped up in the English-speaking area. Not only foreigners work on accent but also native speakers because there are so many accents only in the US. For example, an experienced actor can be asked to speak with British accent. In that case even such professionals should work on their accent.
Famous foreign actors often play baddies in high budgeted Hollywood movies whereas Americans usually play heroes. Thus an American viewer as if divides characters of the film into “us” and “them” on the subconscious level.
Once a film critic Anton Dolin said that there is no art without politics. We can see it, for example, by the Oscar Award and many other Awards all over the World. I think it is correct because politics, as well as cinematograph, attracts the world. And today Russia can be called an enemy No 1 for the USA. Our cinema theatres show Hollywood movies generally in which the Russian characters entirely baddies. There on the top politics have their own big games and ordinary people live a different friendly live. But it seems to me, it would be more fair, if the Russian spy in a feature movie Red Sparrow, for example, was played by a Russian actress, in spite of Jennifer Lawrence. Unfortunately our cinema theatres screen Hollywood movies where the Russians play bad characters. But I met many Russian actors who actively play heroes in the American movies and I was impressed by that movies.
You tried yourself as a camera man assistant in the Hollywood movie. This shift of activity looks too sharp against the background of your acting work.
I wanted to get on set of the Hollywood movie. I thought that here everything is different and was happy to volunteer. But I realized that it is familiar to our process. Los Angeles is such wonderful town where everything is possible. Therefore I do not exclude an opportunity to work in other fields over time. I would like to try as the screenwriter.
You are in two actions. What kind of movies will it be?
One of them is called A.I.A. (the Agency of International Affairs is the Agency of Foreign Affairs). It shoots in a popular format of web-series which does not demand big investments. Action takes place in Japan. I play an American agent. My partner, who is also my lover, and me we try to give a secret chip to our colleague, but during the operation my character dies unfortunately.
The second project is a feature movie Lady Spetznaz. I play girlfriend and a spy of the main character. Action of the movie takes place in Russia.
Your characters fight in both of these movies. Did you took martial arts classes?
Yes. We had a course of scene fighting, martial arts and fencing in educational program of my theatre school. I dreamed to act in action movies in general while I am not hundred years old.
You participated a lot in performances of artists, theatre shows, dancing projects and fashion photoshoots. How important for an actor to take part in such various projects?
It is vital for any actor because you can play a character who is able to do something that luckily you can do. Then it will be much easier to carry out a task. For this purpose it is necessary to be very flexible, opened and ready for new experience. So any actor needs to master as many various skills as possible and never stop. I studied Japanese in my school. This knowledge was so useful to me many years later when I worked on the role in A.I.A. where I needed to say several lines on Japanese. The actor is a person who always has to push his way out of the comfort zone.
What movies you saw last year became important for you?
The Hungarian picture On Body and Soul of Ildiko Enyedi is unique because that movies about introverts are like flies in amber our days. Also terrific biographic drama I, Tonya by Craig Gillespie impressed me so much. In my opinion Margo Robbie is one of the brightest actresses nowadays. That her slight madness … Also I was subdued of the new film by Lars von Trier The House That Jack Built. It is great that big stars played in in episodes there. In general movies by this director hold a specific place in my life.
At the same time I liked the Russian film I Am Losing Weight. At first sight it seems a light comedy, but actually it full of interesting implications and fascinating psychological thread which penetrates all script. The main character passes very interesting way and as a result she understands what is true and what is false.