The best Russian actors of all time have appeared in a variety of genre films that range from the advent of the talkies to the era of remakes. Two of these actors gained popularity for playing the same role while others continue to work in Russian language films to this day. These actors have won Oscars and starred in B-movies while remaining the best actors to come from the Soviet Union.
- Walter Koenig – Walter Koenig will always remain popular thanks to his role as Chekov on the original “Star Trek” television series. He is also one of the best Russian actors of his era, starring in the first seven “Star Trek” movies as well as other genre material like “Timequest” and the television series “Babylon 5.”
- Natalie Wood – Natalie Wood got her start as a child actor in “Miracle on 34th Street” and parlayed that into a career as one of the best Russian actors in Hollywood. She also appeared in “Rebel Without a Cause” opposite James Dean, which earned her an Oscar nomination. She later appeared in the lauded musical “West Side Story” in 1961.
- Jacques Tati – Film fans best know Jacques Tati as a masterful French filmmaker, but his parents were Russian nobility who relocated to France. Tati directed a series of movies based on the character of Monsieur Hulot, who Tati portrayed in the films. “Mon Oncle,” “Playtime” and “Trafic” display Tati in great form as one of the best Russian actors of all time.
- Milla Jovovich – Born in Kiev in the Soviet Union, Milla Jovovich has grown into one of the most recognizable and best Russian actors working in Hollywood today. She got her first popular exposure in the teen film “Dazed and Confused” before finally breaking out in the Luc Besson film “The Fifth Element.” She married Paul Anderson and starred in all his “Resident Evil” films.
- Yul Brynner – Yul Brynner became world famous as one of the best Russian actors thanks to his role in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical “The King and I.” Brynner won an Oscar for this performance. Brynner then won over a brand new audience with his performance in the western “The Magnificent Seven.”
- Al Jolson – Al Jolson was part of cinema history when he starred in one of the first “talkies” in “The Jazz Singer.” Jolson, a singer and performer, starred as jazz musician who has to face his troubled childhood when his mother grows ill. Jolson went on to continue his career in films like “The Singing Fool” and “Mammy.”
- Sam Levene – Sam Levene was an actor born in Russia in 1905 who became famous as one of the best Russian actors of that era thanks to work in Film Noir films. He appeared in the classic Ernest Hemingway adaptation film “The Killers,” the Jules Dassin prison film “Brute Force” and the Robert Mitchum drama “Crossfire.”
- Anton Yelchin – One of the best young Russian actors became famous for playing the same role as another actor on this list, portraying Chekov in the 2009 “Star Trek” remake. The actor also played a young Kyle Reese in the fourth “Terminator” film.
- Nikita Mikhalkov – Nikita Mikhalkov wrote and starred in the 2008 Academy Award nominated film “12.” “12,” a Russian remake of the Sidney Lumet classic “12 Angry Men,” took the classic film and gave it a modern twist. It remains one of the best foreign language films of 2007 thanks in large part to Mikhalkov, one of the best Russian actors working today.
- Konstantin Khabensky– Khabensky became a famous cult star thanks to his portrayal of Anton in the “Night Watch” series of horror movies. Khabensky, one of the best Russian actors working, received his first Hollywood job thanks to “Night Watch” director Timur Bekmambetov hiring him for the blockbuster film “Wanted.”
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