Academician of The Russian Academy of Arts. Born on March 16, 1935 in Leningrad.
Soviet and Russian Theater and Film Actor, Theater Director, Screenwriter. Created a unique one-man-theater. Narrated fifteen works of classical and contemporary writers. Svyato-Filaretovsky Christian Orthodox Institute Council of Sponsors Member. People’s Artist of the RSFSR. Kinotavr Prize Laureate.
Companion of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland (3rd and 4th class), Medal of Pushkin.
Sergey Yurskiy appeared in more than 30 films, 70 spectacles and made about 100 TV-performances. There may be ten roles that I don’t like much, — he says. — But the rest makes me feel thankful.» Though, one day he near became a militiaman. He finished school with a golden medal. Parents encouraged him to enter the Leningrad State University and become a lawyer. He didn’t protest and started the carrier of a crime investigator. But it wasn’t what he really needed to do. A famous university theater art director Evgenia Karpova could see his talent. There he played many great characters and
attempted to enter the A.N. Ostrovsky Leningrad Theater Institute. The fourth try was successful. «I had to unlearn first, — Mr. Yurskiy says. — I already knew a lot of things and it made me a sinner. The artist supposed to be innocent.»
After the second course he was welcomed in the Gorky Drama Theater ruled by George Tovstonogov. «He is like a father for me and no one in the world can know about our relations more than I allow. Though, I can say and write about some of our disagreements. He wanted to be the only master of all his leading actors. I saw how cruel and imperious he could be. But it didn’t affect his talent of a great director and outstanding artist. However, it was George Tovstonogov, who encouraged his student to become a director in spite of any resistance.
But this unnatural union of two strong characters hasn’t lasted long. Sergey Yurskiy is always ready to defend the truth. In the years of Socialist development he was strictly against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and wasn’t afraid of being a friend of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Efim Etkind. That didn’t slip attention of Party leaders and made him lose everything. «During five years I was a reject, — Mr. Yurskiy recalls. — After three years of struggle I could finally settle down in Moscow. Thanks to Rostislav Plyatt, Faina Ranevskaya and the Mossovet Theatre.» Soon the Mossovet Theatre became his second home. Here he continued performing his roles and directing new spectacles.
However, Sergey Yurskiy is better known as an actor. He started as a comedian. Grigory Tovstonogov helped him to discover his talent in drama. Due to cinema the audience saw his heroic and tragic side. But humor plays an important part in Sergey Yurskiy’s creativity. No humor, no role. Though his characters often make people smile, their stories are more than serious. Gorgeous Ostap Bender in Mikhail Schweitzer’s The Little Golden Calf is not just funny but he also makes viewers feel sympathy. The same goes to luckless Grandpa Mitya from a Vladimir Menshov’s film Love and Doves. Is there anyone who doesn’t feel sorry for him?
Another Sergey Yurskiy’s great talent is his voice. There aren’t many such masters among professional narrators. The actor once narrated excerpts from Pushkin’s Evgeny Onegin for an eight part TV series. According to his own opinion it was one of his best works in that field. Along with narrating texts written by other authors Mr. Yurskiy writes his own stories. «Some prose rhythm appeared and I had to record it. But later it transformed into real stories that could develop. Then my acting tricks came with help. The rhythm gave birth to a character. The character was allowed to speak and soon I became just a spectator. All things happened almost independently of my will.»
He wears a mask of a public man onstage. He can sometimes afford a party with his fellows in theater. But being a priest’s grandson Sergey Yurskiy often visits father loann Privalov, the Svyato-Sretensky temple brotherhood leader in Zaostrovie village near Arkhangelsk. «I surely live in the society and realize my first steps towards Christianity, — Sergey says. — I am actor, director and writer. My ancestors were intelligent people. I don’t perform much in these latter days, just a hundred spectacles a year or so. And my audience is the same intelligent people. They’re interested in watching my spectacles. And I don’t offer a show or some variety entertainment. Yet, I call my audience simple people. And I am simple as well. I’m just a working man.»