Oleg Borisov in the film Ostanovilsya poyezd, 1982
|Born||Albert Ivanovich Borisov
8 November 1929
Privolzhsk, Ivanovo Oblast, Soviet Union
|Died||28 April 1994
Oleg Ivanovich Borisov (Russian: Оле́г Ива́нович Бори́сов; 8 November 1929 – 28 April 1994) was a well-known Russian film and theatre actor, whose honors included the title of People's Artist of the USSR (1978), two USSR State Prizes (1978, 1991) as well as the Volpi Cup (1990).
Childhood and Youth
Oleg Borisov was born Albert Ivanovich Borisov on 8 November 1929 in Privolzhsk, Ivanovo Oblast, Russia, Soviet Union. His given name was Albert, which was chosen by his mother in honor of the Belgian prince Albert, who visited Moscow in 1929. His parents were agricultural professionals. His mother, Nadezhda Andreevna, was an agricultural engineer, and also played as an amateur actress at a local drama. His father, Ivan Borisov, was a wounded World War II veteran, who worked as director of Privolzhsk Agricultural Technical School.
Becoming an Actor
Young Oleg Borisov was fond of acting and theatre, he was known as a good impersonator and comedian among his classmates at school. However, during the Second World War young Oleg Borisov was a tractor driver at a collective farm near Moscow. At the same time he was involved in amateur acting at his school drama class.
After World War II Borisov graduated from a secondary school and applied to study at the Moscow Art Theatre (MKhAT). He passed a series of professional tests and was admitted to the Moscow Art Theatre School of Acting in 1947. While a student Borisov was regarded for his talent as a comedian. In 1951, Borisov graduated from the MKhAT School of Acting, and joined the troupe of the Lesya Ukrainka National Academic Theater of Russian Drama in Kiev. In 1954 he married Alla Romanovna (née Latynskaya), the daughter of director of the Lesya Ukrainka Theatre. Their son, Yuri Borisov, was born in 1956.
In 1964, director Georgi Tovstonogov invited Oleg Borisov to join the troupe of the Bolshoi Drama Theatre (BDT). From 1964–1983 Borisov was a permanent member of the troupe at BDT in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). There his stage partners were Tatyana Doronina, Lyudmila Makarova, Kirill Lavrov, Vladislav Strzhelchik, Innokenti Smoktunovsky, Yefim Kopelyan, Oleg Basilashvili, Yevgeni Lebedev, Pavel Luspekayev, Sergei Yursky, Vsevolod Kuznetsov, Nikolai Trofimov, and other notable Russian actors. Borisov played memorable roles in several productions, such as, Grigori Melekhov in And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov, Prince Harry in King Henry IV (1969 adaptation) by Shakespeare, and Siply in Optimistic Tragedy by Vsevolod Vishnevskiy. At that time he was also invited by director Lev Dodin to perform the leading role in Krotkaya (aka "A Gentle Creature") an adaptation of the eponymous short story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
In 1955, Borisov made his film debut at the Dovzhenko Film Studio in Kiev, Ukraine; he played a cameo role in film Mother (1955) by director Mark Donskoy. Eventually Oleg Borisov ascended to fame in the Soviet and Russian cinema, as he continued his film career in collaboration with such directors as Eldar Ryazanov, Andrei Tarkovsky, Aleksandr Muratov, Aleksei German, Viktor Tregubovich, Vladimir Bortko, Aleksandr Gordon, Vladimir Vengerov, and Vadim Abdrashitov, among other film directors. His best known roles in film were such works as Gudionov in Sluga by Vadim Abdrashitov, and Naoum Kheifitz in Luna Park by Pavel Lungin.
For several years Borisov was suffering from restrictions in the Soviet film industry, because he did not comply with the ridiculous rules of political obedience. The main reason was that Borisov never wanted to be a member of the Soviet Communist party. His personal revolt against the system resulted in several years of his underemployment: the system allowed him to play only little roles, making him almost invisible for a few years, a humiliation which he endured with dignity. Only director Vadim Abdrashitov was brave enough to brake the Soviet censorship rules. He cast Borisov for the leading roles in his films Ostanovilsya poyezd (1982) and Parade of Planets (1984).
Oleg Borisov was a stellar example of a rare, beautiful, and disobedient talent. He had to be untamed and free of any control in order to play his best roles. Borisov was at the peak of his stage and film career by the end of the 1970s, when suddenly he was dismissed by a film director for his disagreement about the movements of his character. In the Soviet reality that caused an impact on his work in film and on stage. He had no support from Communist Party, because he never wanted to be a member. Borisov chose his individual freedom at a high cost. He never was a slave of the Soviet system, and the system never let him have his freedom.
Borisov suffered from professional restrictions, that were imposed on him, which caused him a serious stress with medical complications. Only a few of his colleagues were capable to understand his case. At that critical time Oleg Yefremov called Borisov in 1982, and invited him to work with the Moscow Art Theatre. From 1983-1990 Borisov was a member of the troupe with the Moscow Art Theatre. There his stage partners were Anastasiya Vertinskaya, Yevgeniy Yevstigneyev, Andrey Myagkov, and other notable Russian actors. At the same time Borisov made stage works at the Moscow Central Theatre of the Soviet Army, such as, his acclaimed portrayal of the Emperor Pavel I in the eponymous play by Dmitri Merezhkovsky. During the course of his acting career Borisov shared the views of Konstantin Stanislavski and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko who believed that stage acting is a superior form of art. Borisov confessed that he had greater satisfaction from his stage works, than from any film.
During many years Oleg Borisov suffered from a severe stress caused by political pressures on his acting career. He opposed the official system and contracted a stress-related blood disorder, a rare form of leukemia, which was misdiagnosed by the Soviet medical system. Borisov knew that his disease was incurable. However, his private conversations with actors-friends were sparkled with his wit and wisdom, and someone told him to write a book, which he did. He was writing notes for almost 20 years, which were published posthumously by his son, director Yuri Borisov. Oleg Borisov was designated People's Artist of the USSR (1978) and received the USSR State Prize (1978) for his stage works. In 1990 Borisov won Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival. He played over 70 roles in film and television. He also directed stage productions and led several popular radio shows. In 1992 Oleg Borisov made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem together with his wife. He died of complications from a blood disorder on 28 April 1994 in Moscow, Russia.
- There Will Be No Leave Today (1959)
- Failure of Engineer Garin (1973)
- Treasure Island (1982)
- The Servant (1989)
- The Only Witness (1990)
- Luna Park (1992)