Text editor in chief: Irina Rusinovich
Art director / photographer: Inna Malinovaya
Talent: Varvara Shmykova
How did you discover Film and Theatre? How old were you? How was your journey to becoming a working actor?
My journey started with my name – Varvara. It’s unusual and fabulous. And with my character, of course.
Theatre has been open for me, perhaps, ever since my childhood. It includes performances in a kindergarten when I was standing on a stool in front of my relatives, along with singing songs or reciting poems on a train Moscow-Glazov when I was 4-5 years old.
There were only a few celebrations or performances I didn’t participate in, whether it was a family celebration, a school concert, or contests at children’s camps. I was always in the spotlight. I could be found on stage at any time. People always knew me as „that red-haired girl with two pigtails and freckles“.
That was followed by children’s school theatre, then children’s professional theatre, and then four years of drama school! After leaving school, it was four years before I enrolled in the Moscow Art Theater on Viktor Ryzhakov’s course, from which I eventually graduated in 2016.
At the end of the first year, we had our first play, which took us all over Russia further to France, Hungary, Estonia, and Croatia… The cinema came a little later, but the theatre was still the primary reason!
Which is your best role so far and why?
My best role so far is the one I’ve played in a soap opera called „Chiqui“.
It’s the best because it covers the entire spectrum, my whole artistic range, so to speak. And also because the show in itself is a huge success, whichever way you look at it. It’s a courageous and sincere story that left no one indifferent. And to this day, viewers still write to me, asking for a sequel…
How do you select films?
Sometimes I think it’s the film that chooses me, not me.
I’ve been fortunate and proud of all my film works, which always differ from one another.
Every industry, including the entertainment industry, is full of competition; how do you stand out amidst competition?
That’s a good question.
First of all, I come from a quite large family, so I know a lot about competition.
Secondly, at some point, I got a sense of this unique individuality that everyone really has. We are all very different, and that’s fine. And I’ve never tried to be like someone else or follow any trends. I always try to listen to myself and my heart. Well, thanks to my bright looks and ringing laughter, those who’ve seen me at least once – simply never forget me!
What is the first thing you do to research and approach a role?
I read the material/script/play many, many times.
And I begin to immerse myself in the topic, looking for echoes of it in myself, asking questions about the subject to everyone around me and myself in the first place.
The entertainment industry is known to be full of stress and pressure; how do you tackle the pressure that comes with your work?
It seems to me that stress and I are related. It could be a professional deformation, but I exist like a fish in water in stress and deadline mode. It’s probably hardened since the university. You manage to do everything when you’re working on two plays, studying for three exams, and reading four different books at the same time.
Are there things you’d like to do other than acting?
Now I have a chapter called motherhood. It’s an exciting and vital experience for me! And speaking of occupations, I’d probably make a great producer!
What is your strength as an actor?
I’m capable of anything!
P.S. The laughter of an evil genius…
Do you think that success has changed your life?
It would’ve been a lie if I said it had not.
Success has definitely changed some areas of my life. Some, but not all of me. My status and recognition. I’ve learned to say no and be choosier about people.
But life continues to flow according to my laws and the laws of nature, of course.
A character you would like to play.
Speaking of a role, I would prefer a resisting character, some kind of a villainess; otherwise, I’d love to star in a fairy tale or some fictional world. However, overall, I would’ve been happy to get a starring role!
Tell us about your upcoming shows and how you’re staying on top of things during the geopolitical crisis.
Recently, just in two months, my companion Misha Shamkov and I made a play via ZOOM, „The Heartbreak Club“. Producers Lisa Paliy and Philip Nesterenko started „Arête“ in Dubai to influence the Gulf countries‘ cultural agenda. We have been their first project!
Also, back then, Misha was in Dubai, while I was in Berlin. I flew in, and we met on stage just one day before the performance. We had a day for all the rehearsals, both acting and technical. And there were two performances in front of an audience, which were, I dare say, spectacular! We hope to tour the world with this show! It is a good thing that it only involves two actors, one table, and two chairs. And, of course, we’d love to play in Berlin!
And soon, in Russia, the series „Mir.druzhba.gum“ will be released, where I have a role in the second plan. It’s a very remarkable story about the ’90s. It is the third season when my character appears on screen for the first time. My partner is the wonderful Yura Borisov (Petrovs in Flu, Compartment number 6, Captain Volkogonov escaped, The bull).
Where do you see your career in five years as an actor?
Now the planning horizon has narrowed to a week… can’t look that far ahead. I want to believe that in five years, I’ll still be an actress because I love my profession very much, and I’m sure I can bring a lot to the world of theatre and cinema. Let’s go on with our lives and see what happens next.