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Alexander Nevsky Talks w/411 About His New Film Black Rose

May 26, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The 411 Interview: Alexander Nevsky

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Alexander Nevsky is an international action superstar from Russia who has been in the movie business since 2000. A former professional bodybuilder and multi-time Mr. Universe winner, Nevsky has appeared in movies like Moscow Heat, Treasure Raiders, and Magic Man and worked with actors such as Michael York, Richard Tyson, Andrew Divoff, David Carradine, and Billy Zane. Nevsky is also a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Nevsky’s latest movie, Black Rose, which he also directed, was a major theatrical hit in Russia in 2014 and recently received a theatrical/Video On Demand release in North America via ITN Distribution. The movie also stars Kristanna Loken, Adrian Paul, Robert Davi, and the incomparable Mathias Hues. Nevsky took time out of his busy schedule to speak with this writer about Black Rose, directing for the first time, the movie business in general, and more.

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Bryan Kristopowitz: How did Black Rose come about?

Alexander Nevsky: It was supposed to be a sequel to my breakout film Moscow Heat. I created the original story for Black Rose in 2006. Brent Huff directed me in Treasure Raiders and I liked a couple of scripts he wrote before so I hired him to write a first draft of the Black Rose screenplay in 2007. A couple of years later I shot Magic Man in Las Vegas and its writer George Saunders created a new version of the Black Rose script. The legendary Sheldon Lettich (Double Impact) polished it a little and became executive producer in 2013. By that time it was clear that Black Rose should be an original film, not a sequel.

BK: Why did you want Black Rose to be your first effort as a director? Did you always plan on directing Black Rose?

AN: I was involved with this project for too long and knew the story and characters very well. I always wanted to try directing and decided that Black Rose would be perfect for my directorial debut. I wanted to mix several genres and I wanted to pay tribute to some of my favorite action films of 80s and 90s. And it was easy to convince producers that I should direct Black Rose because I was the main producer myself! 🙂

BK: How different was it for you to be both director and star as opposed to just the star? What was the hardest part of making Black Rose?

AN: I didn’t have time for anything besides Black Rose for months and that was hard. I had to make many important decisions personally during casting and pre-production, during actual shooting, during post-production and theatrical release in Russia/CIS, during international film markets etc. If you’re just hired as an actor it’s a walk in the park compared to what I had on Black Rose. But don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed it all the way and it was a dream come true! I just wish I had more time for working out in the gym.

BK: How much of Black Rose was filmed in Russia and how much was filmed in America? And how long did it take to make Black Rose, from pre-production to finishing the movie?

AN: We shot in Russia a lot. The film was released in the US this May finally and it was funny to read all the reviews because almost no one realized that some “LA scenes” were actually shot in Moscow. I should thank my Director of Photography, Rudy Harbon, because he did a great job in both cities. One of my favorite scenes was shot by the ocean in Malibu. And I think we spent about 3 months on pre-production, month- and-a-half on actual shooting, about six months on editing and post-production. So total was about 10 months, which is relatively fast for an independent film like that.

BK: How did Robert Davi and Adrian Paul get involved with Black Rose? You’ve worked with both of them before, so it was a case of “getting the band back together” so to speak?

AN: Exactly. Adrian and Robert are my friends. I wanted to work with them again. I sent them the script, they liked it. As a first time director I was smart enough to surround myself with friends and great professionals and that’s why I think Black Rose was a success. I mentioned my writers, Sheldon Lettich and Rudy Harbon already but I also should thank my other executive producers Brian Gores, Alexander Izotov and Robert Madrid, my editor Stephen Adrianson and score composer Sean Murray. And of course I should thank all the cast but especially – beautiful Kristanna Loken. She is a great action star and a very good actress at the same time. She supported me a lot.

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BK: Why did it take 3 years for Black Rose to make it to America?

AN: I made a North American deal in the summer of 2016, actually, but got a May 2, 2017 release date. It’s not easy at all for an independent film to be released in the US and Canada. But Black Rose was a theatrical hit in Russia/CIS and we sold it to many countries already so it was still interesting for big companies like ITN, eOne and Sony to release my film day-and-date here (which means that the movie is released almost at the same time in select theaters and on DVD / Video On Demand). By the way, Black Rose will be in every Redbox on May 23rd and will premiere on Netflix in the beginning of July.

BK: You’ve been involved in the movie business since 2000. How has the business changed for you since then? And how has the Russian movie business changed in that time?

AN: I’m an established movie star in Russia now and can open a film in theaters over there. This is very important for my business structure. Everything changed in the independent film business in the last 5-10 years (in Russia and worldwide) and everything is getting tougher. But I started as a boxer and bodybuilder and have always loved good challenges. So, for me it’s still very interesting and, to be honest with you, I didn’t expect to have all this buzz around Black Rose in the US now. I even did an interview for Forbes magazine and they compared Black Rose to movies made by my idols Alfred Hitchcock and Walter Hill!

BK: How did you get involved in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association?

AN: It’s a legendary organization. I become a member of HFPA in 2002 and proudly represent Russia for 15 years already. My fellow members and I play a big role in Hollywood with the Golden Globe Awards but HFPA gives a lot of money to charity every year which is very important. We support independent and foreign films also. Unfortunately, I can’t spend much time with HFPA now because I’m a busy filmmaker myself but I always vote for the Golden Globes and attend the ceremony every January which is huge fun!

BK: Do you have any plans to direct more? Any dream projects, either acting, directing, or both?

AN: I will direct again for sure. I don’t have any “dream projects” right now because my plate is pretty full already.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

AN: I have 2 new films. Showdown in Manila is kind of like “Expendables”, I produced it and co-starred with Casper Van Dien, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tia Carrere, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Matthias Hues, Oliver Gruner and Mark Dacascos (he also directed). It’s a very good action movie, it was a wide theatrical release in Russia / Eastern Europe in 2016 and we sold rights to 22 countries. I’m working on a North American distribution deal for Showdown in Manila right now and hope that this film will be released in the US before the end of 2017. My other film is Maximum Impact and this is the biggest movie I have produced yet. The director is Andrzej Bartkowiak (Doom) and the writer is Ross LaManna (Rush Hour). This film is on final stage of post-production and will be released in 2018.

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BK: Is Mathias Hues awesome in real life, or is he just pretty cool?

AN: Good question. It depends. In Black Rose he was huge and I didn’t have time to work out properly so he was bigger than me which means he was just pretty cool. In Showdown in Manila I was huge and Matthias had a good definition but I was bigger which means that he was awesome! 😉

Seriously, Matthias Hues inspired me a lot with his great martial arts films and I’m very proud to call him a dear friend now. He’s an unbelievable guy, we’ve made 3 films together already and I can’t wait to work with him again!

Thank you and the 411 Mania team for your interest and support. I hope you and your readers will like Black Rose!

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A very special thanks to Alexander Nevsky for agreeing to participate in this interview and david j. moore for helping set it up.

Check out Alexander Nevsky on Twitter (@NevskyAkexandr) and on Instagram (@realalexnevsky)

All images courtesy of Alexander Nevsky.