Interview with Viktoria Fyodorova
Viktoria Fyodorova arrived in Moscow. She went to see her old friends, strolled about a city that is now totally foreign to her, visited her mother’s grave. The daughter of a movie star of the 30s and 40s and of an American officer (he paid for his love with exile from the “friendly” USSR, and she — with prison and exile), and herself a movie star of the 70s, she has come back to Russia after a quarter of a century in America.
- You’ve come back from being a nonperson — for many years you
didn’t exist in Russia. How do you feel now?
- It feels strange. I call up someone with whom I’ve had no
contact for 25 years, and I hear: “Vika, hi, what’s up?” Just like
I never left. It’s as though we’ve lost our sense of time. Others say,
“One fine day you just upped and left. You disappeared, as though you’d never existed.” In fact that disappearance was totally understandable, if you look at the harsh times when I left Russia. At that time my action was called the act of a traitor, though I had no plans to emigrate. I left for three months to see my father for the first time, and I’d been looking for him for 15 years. I didn’t have the slightest desire to stay there: here I’d left behind my mother, my work which I loved, I had a film planned with Svetlana Druzhinina…But it turned out that I met someone, we fell in love, I married him. He was an American, and it was totally out of the question for him to come to the USSR then. And so I made up my mind. For a long time I kept Soviet citizenship, and only after my mother’s murder I said that I didn’t want to be a citizen of this bloodstained country, and sent back my passport to the embassy. Now I have American citizenship. But I’m still Russian at heart.
- What did you do all these years ?
- I was a housewife. Raised my son. Worked as a model. Acted
for TV and for documentary films. I wrote two books: an
autobiography and a novel about ancient Russian history, which I did
with Robin Moore, an American writer… and now we can’t manage
to sell it to a publisher, because historical novels aren’t fashionable.
- For many years you’ve been trying to shoot a feature film about
your mother and her fate. What could prompt someone to relive the most
tragic moments of her life ?
- No one says that’s easy. I still can’t talk about some scenes
without crying. But my mother at least deserved to have her true story
told. I’ve had it with all those cheap investigations by journalists,
the books in which the events of my mother’s life and death are
turned upside down, blown up with wild distortions, stories about
some invented diamonds…What’s behind these authors’ actions is
clear: to make money. Well, tough luck. I’m not going to run after
each of them wailing “What have you dreamed up, damn you!” In
America there’s even more of that stuff, and they sling that kind of
stuff back and forth every day. It’s a kind of a weird life style. For me
the most important thing is to show this story the way it really was.
And that was the story of a beautiful love with a tragic twist.
- But you’ve come to Moscow with a completely different film project…
- You mean my film? Well, that’s another story altogether. It’s
modern, a Hitchcock-style detective film. About how a husband tries
to drive his wife crazy, to get her out of his life. It takes place in
America, where I live, and the heroine is a Russian who’s married an
American. When I came to Moscow in the early 90s I was offered
several roles right away, but 1 refused: I didn’t want to be seen by an audience, which hadn’t seen me for such a long time, in really bad films. And so I decided to do a film myself. Since I’m not a screenwriter, and my Russian has gotten a bit shaky over the years, I asked for help from Edik Volodarsky and Andrei Razumovsky, to polish my scribbles.
- I’ve heard that you never watch your old films, and that you don’t
even have videotapes of them. Why?
- I don’t want to look back to something that still tempts me very
strongly. Being an actor is an illness like alcoholism: you don’t get
better. When you understand that the chances for self-fulfillment here
are infinitesimal, what’s the point of agonizing over it? Here I’m a chip
off the old block — My father was an admiral in the American navy,
and when he retired, the first thing he did was to burn his uniform. He
said, “Why should it gather dust in the closet? I know I’m an admiral,
that I did a lot for the country, and I don’t need a jacket with epaulets
to remember who I am and who I was.” Me, too. Well, I don’t watch
my old films. Although…in the past I’d see myself on the screen and
think that all of that was really badly acted. But now I like myself.