Of the 90 people whose votes determine Sunday night’s Golden Globes awards, only one is a filmmaker. That’s the belief of Hollywood Foreign Press member Alexander Nevsky, the 6’6″, 280-pound Russian (real name: Sasha Kuritsyn) who starred opposite Sherilyn Fenn and the late David Carradine in “Treasure Raiders” (2007) and made his directorial debut in “Black Rose” (2014), which is now streaming on Netflix. (The Los Angeles Times called it “an impressively thorough compendium of ’80s cop picture clichés” with “moldy dialogue.”) He’s also a three-time Mr. Universe and 10-time author: The title of his first book translates as, “How to Become Schwarzenegger in Russia.”
Nevsky’s film career began in 1993, when he starred in a televised Russian documentary about bodybuilding. “About 50 million people watched it. The next day I woke up, and I was popular,” Nevsky told IndieWire by phone from Century City. He began making public appearances while writing about health and fitness, then entertainment. “The only problem was after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all the movie industry collapsed with it,” he said. Thus, he moved to Los Angeles in 1999.
Nevsky soon learned about the HFPA, an organization that would put him in regular contact with filmmakers and allow him to watch hundreds of free screeners a year — a dream scenario for someone who initially encountered the works of Oliver Stone and Steven Spielberg via pirated videotapes. HFPA applicants must establish primary residency in Southern California for two years, complete at least four paid articles or broadcast pieces in the proceeding 12 months, and pay a $500 initiation fee. Nevsky was admitted in 2002, sponsored by its then-president, Egypt-born Mahfouz Doss, himself a member since 1959.
Courtesy of Alexander Nevsky
Today, Nevsky contributes to Arguments and Facts, a weekly newspaper owned by the Moscow government since 2014. He said he is “an established movie star over there,” saying that his 2016 film, “Showdown in Manila,” opened in Russia on 700 screens and was eventually sold to 40 countries. (A Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times told IndieWire via email that he “vaguely recalls having heard of [Nevsky] before… but I have not heard of any of his films.”)
“Showdown in Manila” — described by Nesky as “not Golden Globe material, it’s a different thing, it’s for entertainment” — will be released in approximately 10 North American markets (January 19) and on various VOD platforms (January 23); Nevsky starred, executive produced, and co-created the story. “I just wanted to get together a lot of guys who really didn’t make it to ‘The Expendables,’ because they all deserved it,” Nevsky said. “I wanted to create a project about an international team which really can fight terrorism together.”
The director and his co-star, Mark Dacascos, is an actor and martial arts instructor who may be best known for his 10 seasons as The Chairman on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” The cast includes Tia Carrere (“True Lies”), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (“Mortal Kombat”), and Casper Van Dien (“Sleepy Hollow”), playing an ex-cop and sex addict with a fondness for women who appear to be in their late teens.
Photo courtesy of ITN Distribution
It’s not the most politically correct subplot in a time where sexual harassment and assault allegations are making international headlines, but Nevsky is participating in the Time’s Up protest at Sunday’s Golden Globes. “It’s an unbelievable time that women can come forward and talk about that,” said Nevsky, who feels he had a missed opportunity to take down the industry’s most notorious alleged offender. “I met with Harvey Weinstein — I met with him personally, several times — and he’s an unbelievable film producer… But if I knew, I’d have punched him in the face right there. I’m sad that I didn’t do that.” Nevsky also praised Jessica Chastain’s speech championing women at Tuesday night’s Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala.
Nevsky singled out Chastain’s performance in “Molly’s Game” as “unbelievable;” he also complimented her director, Aaron Sorkin: “It was his directorial debut, and I can’t imagine all the pressure.” Nevsky was “blown away” by Gary Oldman’s “Darkest Hour” transformation into Winston Churchill, and was met with a voting dilemma when it came to the Best Foreign Language Film category. While “of course I wanted to support Russia and Russian filmmakers” with “Loveless,” he was very moved by “what Diane Kruger did” as a grieving wife and mother in “In The Fade.”
Besides supporting women who speak out against sexual misconduct, Nevsky advocates “against anti-Russian stereotypes,” which is why he purposely plays a good cop in “Showdown in Manila.” “When I’m on my flight from Moscow to LA, like a 13-hour flight, I watch three movies in a row with Americans killing Russians,” he says, citing “November Man” with Pierce Brosnan, “Taken 3” with Liam Neeson, and “The Equalizer” with Denzel Washington. “It’s not good. Because Russia will start to produce movies like that, with Russians killing Americans.”
When he visits his home country, Nevsky says reporters try to goad him into bashing the United States, “because it’s fashionable now.” Nevsky declines, saying of the current imbroglio between the two nations, “I don’t think we should support the hate. It’s very easy to create another Cold War… who will be better after that? We already had that.”
The 75th annual Golden Globe Awards will be presented this Sunday, January 7.