A Star in the Making
Yelena Lyadova was born under a lucky star, in Morshansk, Tambov
region. A graduate of the Shepkin Theatre Higher College in Moscow,
she began her career performing with the Young Spectators Moscow Theatre.
She made her debut as a film actress playing the role of Rima in Dreaming
of Space (directed by Alexei Uchitel) which had its premiere
at the recent Moscow Film Festival. Our Editor Jeremy Noble spoke
with her during the festival.
Q How did you get the
part of Rima?
Alexei Yefimovich (Uchitel) and his assistants came to my
graduation performance; then there were auditions, and that's how I
got into the film.
Q This is your first film; what is the
difference between acting in a film and acting on stage.
Theatre is a different kind of existence. There are certain
things permitted in the theatre that no director will ever allow on
his film set. There is more freedom on stage.
Q It must have been like a dream come true -
the director calls you and says you got the part. Did you
immediately call your mother to ask about how it was during that
time? How a Soviet girl would look?
I called my mum, yes! But for me the relations between people are
more important; the processes that are happening between them.
Working in a film is about creating an image of a person, not of a
Q How did you prepare for the part? Did you
try to give Rima any particularly female Soviet
Yes, I had to gain 12 kilos! I had to eat as much as I could,
which is not so easy. But I think that people stay the same no
matter what time they are living in. Their actions are the same,
only the way they express themselves is different. Yes, there is
such a thing as typicality, what is most recognizable about an
epoch; and yet sometimes you look at photos or films, looking for
what is typical, and some faces look as if they don't belong to that
time, as if they are from a different time in history.
Q Do you think that the Russian people were
different during the Soviet period?
Yes, they were often enslaved, not free in their behaviour.
Q At the beginning of the film Rima is in
the shadow of her sister Lara; it takes time to reveal herself, to
come into focus; is this what attracted you to the part of
Rima is one of those people who remain in the shadows for a long
time. They can patiently remain in the shadows with their own
thoughts, and then they fire off - here I am! Surprise! In a lot of
ways her ambitions define her character. Certainly, I have my
ambitions too. A person should never be passive. This doesn't mean
achieving one's goals at the expense of other people, but with the
quality of your own work.
Q Lara and Rima are waitresses in the film.
They belong to a certain class. Does this class system still
This class has always existed. There's always someone dancing and
Q The film is about many things; but it is
certainly about people's senses. Rima seems to have a sixth sense.
When she replaces her sister Lara as Horsie's girlfriend, she says
that she always knew that it would happen. Is this sixth sense what
defines the women?
Yes, women have intuition. As for men, they live in a different
space. Humans are intuitive beings. The only difference is that some
rely on their intuition more, some less.
Q Do you think that Rima and Lara understand
better than the men in the film what life is about?
Yes, the two girls understand what their place on this earth is.
They are realistic about what they are capable of.
Q The title of the film suggests perhaps
that all of the characters are dreaming of space. But it looks to me
as if the women have their feet on the ground - they know what they
want - and the men are dreaming; dreaming about running away, about
flying in space. Do you agree?
Women do have ambitions, but they are of an earthly character.
When Horsie is talking about his dreams, my heroine agrees that the
whole world can be his, but only if he is with her. Men need us.
Q When we first see
Rima she is working as a waitress with her sister in a cafeteria in
a city somewhere on the Russian-Norwegian border. When we last see
her she is sitting on a train bound for Moscow, smartly dressed,
accompanying Horsie who has been accepted as a student at an elite
academy. Rima has come a long way socially. Do you think that this
ambition is an important idea in the film?
All the characters in this film want to change themselves, their
surroundings; to switch to something different. And each one of them
is using different ways to achieve it.
Q Each one of the four main characters -
Horsie, Gherman, Lara and Rima - wants to escape from the life that
they have. Do you think that they want to escape from the political
restrictions of the old USSR, or do they just want to get away from
a small town and go to the big city?
For me it's a film about dreaming - dreams connected with earth
and space. It's looking for your own identity, waiting for some
changes. Not for political changes in the country but in yourself.
It's the thrill of anticipation - just in a little while something
is going to happen. The main characters know it is going to happen,
but they don't know when and how. For Rima it's not just a big city
she's looking forward to; all women want to be loved and desired.
Everyone wants love.
Q So does a woman always have to be with a
man? What's more important for Rima, being with Horsie or her own
(Laughing) Do you think that if there were no Horsie there
wouldn't have been some other man? It's boring to live without love.
Q Do you think that the film is as much
about the negative side of the USSR as about the positive side?
There's both. There were a lot of wonderful things during that
time, but there was also the Iron Curtain, different boundaries
restricting people from seeing the world. Freedom should never be
restricted. No one can decide for a person what he should do and
what he shouldn't, what radio to listen to and what not. But you
know some people are happy with the little worlds of their own.
Today there are people who have money, can go where they want; but
they are happy with the Internet in their room. And some people have
their kitchen-garden where they grow potatoes and they don't even
need the Internet. It doesn't mean that they are any less important
as people, they just don't need anything else.
Q You are too young to have lived in the
Soviet Union that is shown in the film, but is there something that
My father was in the military. When he went to work, some time
later I went to have lunch in the officers' canteen. And there I
could have lunch for 1 rouble! And also there were wonderful cafes
where for a very little price one could buy the most delicious
cakes. I also remember having to use coupons to get food. Also there
was a school uniform, that was a kind of restriction - everyone had
to look the same. It was unacceptable to be original, to be an
individual. Nowadays anyone can be original, be different, be
himself - which is most important. Oh, and there was the most
delicious bubble gum called Donald Duck!
Q Do you think that it is a political
It's not only about politics. Every viewer sees something
different in a film. Someone sees the political part of it, and
someone notices more than that.
Q Do you think that there is a difference
between the way in which a Russian audience looks at the film, and
how a Western audience sees it?
Russians lived and live in this country, and so a lot of things
in the film are familiar and understandable. For a foreign viewer
it's an alien background picture. I think it's a good film, because
every time you see it you notice something new.