RUSSIAN DOLL: Kazantzidis & Zitserman
The award winning script for Russian Doll is a
collaboration between a Russian woman and a Greek man. Bound to
be a hoot, don’t you reckon? Andrew L. Urban talks to the
duo, who were inspired by a night at the Russian Roulette Club.
Inspired by a night at Sydney's Russian Roulette Club, and co-written
with Allanah Zitserman, Russian Doll represents Stavros
Kazantzidis' most collaborative project to date. They co-wrote
it, he directed and she produced. "It began with an
invitation to Allanah's grandfather's 75th birthday," says
Kazantzidis. Born in the Ukraine, Zitserman came to Australia 10
years ago and joined other Russian Jews in a significant
subculture which fascinates Kazantzidis.
At the Russian Roulette Club, the Greek-origin Kazantzidis
realised that Russian Jews and Greeks had a lot in common. "They're
both food-oriented, expressive, guilt-ridden, gregarious and
emotionally volatile cultures," he says. "I've always
been interested in honing in on
sub-cultures in my work although previously these were more age-related
(university students, young adults). I agreed that this vibrant
sub-culture would make a very interesting film."
“looked everywhere for a
Russian... found her in Melbourne”
He had also started writing a screenplay about a private
investigator - while Zitserman had started to work on a concept
close to her cultural heart; they decided to pool their ideas and
pour them into Russian Doll, the story of a lonely private
investigator who agrees to marry his best friend's mistress for
technical reasons - and only some time after the fake marriage
breaks up does he in fact fall in love with her. "Yeah, I
know," says Zitserman, "it's very Russian!"
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) plays Harvey the PI who is in therapy,
David Wenham (The Boys) plays Ethan, the best friend and Natalia
Novikova plays Katia, the Russian doll of the title. "We
looked everywhere for a Russian and finally found her in
Melbourne," says Kazantzidis.
“he's very masculine, but
underneath, he has a sensitive side”
Kazantzidis has often worked with Hugo Weaving, "but I
wanted to explore his range more… he's very masculine, but
underneath, he has a sensitive side and I wanted to show that."
"Harvey's a nice guy," says Weaving, "trying to
get his writing going who gets caught up in other peoples worlds
and cant say no; a role I haven't played before. I enjoyed
playing a pathetic character. I do find a lot of actors these
days bring attitude to selecting roles, concerned about the
strength of the next part, feel the necessity to show balls."
Weaving has had a long association with Kazantzidis, beginning at
film school "on his first short film, Terminal and continued
on every project the filmmaker has directed; Road To Alice, True
Love And Chaos as well as Strange Planet which he wrote and
produced. Now its virtually assumed if he's doing a film that
I'll be involved,."
Weaving believes that Kazantzidis is "one of Australia's
most under-rated producer/writer/directors and one of those
extraordinary characters who managed to tackle mission-impossible-low
budget projects and somehow pull them off. As an actor, I really
appreciate his sensitivity and generosity," says Weaving.
"I really enjoy working with him."
Zitserman says she was interested in "a character being
cynical but he overcomes that, accepts how life is and gets the
Published June 14, 2001
Email this article
See our REVIEWS