10 Russian actors under 40 you should know (PHOTOS)

Yulia Snigir in ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’.

Yulia Snigir in ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’.

John Moore/Dune Entertainment, Media Magik Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2013
Beautiful, genuine and successful, they are a force to be reckoned with! These Russian actors have a powerful presence and appear in movies that give them a chance to shine.

10. Irina Starshenbaum, 29

Irina is a natural actress. She relies on her instincts, intuition and emotional intelligence.

Starshenbaum always plays it by ear, she never studied acting professionally and is not afraid of experimenting on set. She is in her element playing various roles in wildly different genres, be it a comedy or a period drama or a sci-fi blockbuster like Fyodor Bondarchuk’s ‘Attraction’ (2017). Her breakthrough came in Kirill Serebrennikov’s drama ‘Leto’ (2018) about iconic rock musician Viktor Tsoi. Filmed in black-and-white and filled with lots of music, it follows the story of three carefree lovers - Viktor, Mike and his wife Natasha (portrayed by Irina Starshenbaum) - during one summer in the early 1980s in Leningrad. ‘Leto’ is also about the birth of the underground rock scene in the Soviet Union, about friendship and freedom. Irina, with her charming smile, is one to watch. She was even more stunning when the Russian star walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival.

Her latest notable role is in Roman Vasyanov’s drama ‘The Dorm’ (2021), set in 1984 in the Soviet Union.

9. Alexandra Bortich, 27

Bortich is a triple threat: She is blond, blue-eyed and beautiful. Before breaking into filmmaking, Bortich worked as a waitress in a bar and auditioned for various TV shows.

She is ready to go to extremes to look convincing on screen. When she played the lead in the sports comedy ‘I Am Losing Weight’ (2018), Alexandra had to gain 20 kg! After all, she had a good role model – Renee Zellweger, who had to gain 15 kilos for her role in ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ (2001). Bortich, with her sweet angelic looks, can pep up any movie.

Charming and charismatic, she did a great job in a supporting role in ‘House Arrest’ (2021), directed by Aleksei German Jr. The actress, who played opposite Merab Nindze, became a ray of light in the realm of darkness of the dense social drama.     

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8. Alexander Petrov, 32

Between 2012 and 2020, the indefatigable actor was in every movie and TV series you can think of, from the war drama ‘T-34’ (2018) to ‘Gogol.

The Beginning’ (2017), a period piece in which Petrov portrays the iconic Russian writer. He’s appeared in musical comedies, sci-fi adventures and melodramas, but it’s his role in the grotesque TV show ‘Call DiCaprio!’ (2018) directed by Zhora Kryzhovnikov that fully revealed Petrov’s natural talent and a passion for cinema.

Petrov brought an emotionally engaging performance to the ‘Text’ (2019), a crime drama based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s bestselling novel. Last but not least, Petrov has a serious background in drama theater.   

7. Oksana Akinshina, 34

A star since her teenage years, Akinshina first turned heads for her role in 2001’s ‘Sisters’ by Sergei Bodrov Jr. She was only 13.

Her next tour de force came in the Swedish-Danish drama ‘Lilja 4-ever’ (2002)directed by Lukas Moodysson. Akinshina played a schoolgirl abandoned by her mother and left to survive as best she can. 

Quiet on the surface, Oksana brings drama and sensitivity to her roles, be it Polly in Valery Todorovsky’s ‘Hipsters’ (2007) or Olga in ‘Chernobyl’ (2021) by Danila Kozlovsky. 

Akinshina recently starred in the hit TV show ‘Container’ (2021), where she plays a professional surrogate mother. Her heroine moves in with her new customers into their posh house until the baby is born and has her life turned upside down. 

6. Danila Kozlovsky, 36

An actor, director, scriptwriter, singer and producer… one wonders how Danila manages to find time for everything! “Figaro here, Figaro there,” the handsome Russian artist always has numerous plans and ideas for future movie projects. Kozlovsky is also a member of Lev Dodin’s famous Maly Drama Theater team, shining in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’.

He is best known for his roles in ‘Soulless’ (2012), based on Victor Pelevin’s cult novel, and sports drama ‘Legend 17’ (2013). The latter is based on a true story, and revolves around the Soviet-Canadian friendly series in 1972, with revered Soviet hockey player Valery Kharlamov in the limelight.

Kozlovsky received international recognition after he appeared as Prince Oleg in the 6th season of ‘Vikings’ (2013-2020), the hit TV show on the History network.

The prolific artist recently completed his second movie as a director. ‘Chernobyl’ (2021) is available on Netflix and tells the story of a fearless firefighter (portrayed by Danila Kozlovsky) who happens to be one of the first liquidators of the catastrophe that unfolded on April 26, 1986, and turned into the world’s worst nuclear accident.

5. Svetlana Khodchenkova, 38

The blond bombshell made her acting debut at age 20 - in the movie ‘Bless the Woman’ (2003) by Stanislav Govorukhin, where Khodchenkova played the wife of the Red Army commander.

Since then, Svetlana has appeared in a number of dramas and comedies, such as ‘Kilometer Zero’ (2007), ‘Five Brides’ (2011) and ‘Office Romance. Our Time’ (2011). Khodchenkova made her Hollywood debut in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ (2011), a Cold War spy thriller based on John le Carré's 1974 novel. The Russian actress then made waves in 2013, when she appeared in James Mangold’s ‘The Wolverine’ (2013) alongside Hugh Jackman.

Khodchenkova sure has an edge that she is set to show off in the new adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’ (2022), Neflix’s first-ever Russian original drama series. Needless to say, Svetlana Khodchenkova will play the titular role.

4. Yulia Peresild, 37

One should never judge a person by their appearance. Delicate and fragile, Peresild recently made international headlines by becoming a… cosmonaut!

In October 2021, she and fellow filmmaker Klim Shippenko spent 12 days filming ‘The Challenge’ (2022), the world’s first movie partially shot in space on the International Space Station! The Russian drama is set to focus on a doctor who has to fly into orbit to rescue a cosmonaut. 

Prior to going into space, the mother of two did “normal” movies, from ‘The Edge’ (2010) by Aleksei Uchitel to ‘The Three’ (2020) by Anna Melikyan, with more than fifty film credits to her name. 

Among the must-see titles is also ‘Sheena 667’ (2019), a brilliant comedy in which Peresild plays a woman whose naïve husband discovers the benefits of the internet and falls in love with a blue-eyed American girl.

3. Anna Chipovskaya, 34

“She’s got the look (She’s got the look), what in the world can make a brown-eyed girl turn blue..” It seems like Roxette could well have sung their song about Chipovskaya! The Russian actress is as beautiful as a shimmering sapphire.

In between her acting, Chipovskaya actually sings, too (her father is a famous jazz musician and her mother is a theater actress). Anna has appeared in numerous roles on stage, playing Masha in Anton Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters’ and Vera Claythorne in Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’.

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In cinema, Chipovskaya is most recognized for her role as Maryana Pichugina in Valery Todorovsky’s award-winning 2013 TV series ‘The Thaw’, set in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. 

The actress has recently graced the screens in such movies as ‘Anyone Seen My Girl’ (2020), a drama about love and loss, and ‘Masha’ (2020), a look at the grim post-Soviet reality through the eyes of a teenager.

2. Yuri Borisov, 28

At just 28, Borisov’s impressive credits rival those of the established actors twice his age. This up-and-coming star has some serious acting chops. He can do drama, comedy or historical film.

Borisov is a protean actor who makes every character he plays seem realistic and authentic, be it the inventor of the AK-47 rifle, Mikhail Kalashnikov, or a young criminal gang leader. There’s something special about Borisov, who tends to play immensely complicated characters, bringing a real tension to each movie. Borisov’s latest tour de force performance comes in a somewhat dystopian drama entitled ‘Captain Volkonogov Escaped’ (2021), where he plays an NKVD (the National Security Service) officer in 1938. 

In ‘Compartment No. 6’, Borisov is convincing, moving and relatable. The drama, directed by Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen and set in the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, scooped the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie about solitude, despair and love is a must-see. 

1. Yulia Snigir, 38

Her beauty is disarming. But her good looks are not Yulia’s only trump card. Snigir is also smart, strong-willed and confident. She’s a chess master candidate, after all! The silver screen siren also knows how to pick great movie roles.

She made her big debut in Fyodor Bondarchuk’s ‘The Inhabited Island’ in 2008. Since then, she’s been busy expanding her skills and professional horizons. Fans of genre movies were fascinated by Snigir’s portrayal of Empress Catherine the Great in a 2015 mini-series. The actress was both believable and emotional. In 2013, Yulia attempted to conquer Hollywood. She has appeared in several movies with big stars. In ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ (2013) she starred opposite Bruce Willis.

 Jude Law, Yulia Snigir

Snigir also stole the show in ‘The Young Pope’ (2019-2020) by Paolo Sorrentino, where her partner in crime was none other than Jude Law.

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