One of my favorite actors of all time is Yevgeny Leonov. Mr. Leonov was a Russian/Soviet actor, mostly famous as a film star and theatrical actor. Predominately acting in films from the 60’s till the 90’s, his wonderful personality resonated on the screen no matter what kind of person he portrayed. His smile of always brings a soothing comfort in my heart, because he exemplifies what an incredible person is in this world. Yevgeny, as my dad, passed away at a young age of 67, taking away two giants from us too soon. These kinds of people should never leave Earth, if you ask me, but if life is created in such a manner, then they definitely should have stayed longer to create more memorable moments in history.
Yevgeny Leonov played in numerous movies, as the lead and supporting roles as well. His supporting roles are almost more memorable than the film’s lead actors, because Yevgeny brings such an emotional sadness or joy that it genuinely leads you to forget about the rest. But, mind you, he always played into the movie and did not act like the “star” of a film.
His best role as a supporting actor, in my opinion, was his character Kolya in Afonya (1975). This movie is a “comedy,” but with some really sad moments showing us a harsh part of reality. Mr. Leonov has a small part in this movie, but the way he plugs a horror of alcoholism made me never want to get to this point. His other great supporting great roles include The Belorussian Station (1971), Mimino (1977), Autumn Marathon (1979).
My favorite role performed by Yevgeny Leonov is definitely Gentlemen of Fortune (1971). Now this movie is a comedy, with a very few sad moments. This is my favorite comedic movie of all time, with genius actors such as Savely Kramarov (Moscow on the Hudson), Georgy Vitsin (Kidnapping Caucasian Style), and other true giants of Soviet cinema. Yevgeny plays two characters, one a brute (Docent) and the other a sweet kindergarten teacher (Troshkin).
I just love the way he plays these two completely different characters. Docent and his gang get caught by the police, but Docent is imprisoned in a different jail than his buddies. Since Troshkin looks identical to this heathen, the cops coax him into spending some time in prison with the real criminals to get information.
The way Troshkin is learning the jargon on the train is truly hilarious, because he is so out of place. Once in jail, after a small slip up that could have turned out deadly for him, Troshkin truly gives a spectacular performance, embodying an aggressive beast. Yevgeny Leonov turns his acting to the next level when you see him slowly gravitate from good to bad, but just not yet bad enough to get him out of trouble with the criminals.
Yevgeny Leonov was truly a magnificent actor. He brought so much happiness to the world, and I hope you will watch his movies to keep this tradition alive.