Interview with Alexander Nevsky on GUNFIGHT AT RIO BRAVO




Alexander, you’re what I consider an “action star” by my definition of this term. You crossed over from bodybuilding championships and became an actor. I’ve seen all your movies, and I’ve developed a sense of what you’re capable of in terms of acting and doing action movies. Tell me: What was the deciding factor for you to make a western with Gunfight at Rio Bravo? I never would’ve thought this genre would’ve worked for you, but I was very pleasantly surprised that it did. What are your thoughts on that?


First of all, thank you very much for all your kind words and support over the years, David! I really appreciate it. Secondly, GUNFIGHT AT RIO BRAVO was a big risk for me to take. I mean, can you imagine a Russian bodybuilder in a serious Western film? It even sounds strange, right? But I got really lucky, because I was introduced to Joe Cornet. He’s a director of several award winning independent Westerns. Joe convinced me to try this new genre and I can’t thank him enough for that! I started my research and found a fascinating real life story about an immigrant from Russian Empire, Ivan Turchaninov, who became a hero of American Civil War. I instantly knew, that I wanted to play this part.  In preparation for this role, I spent a fair amount of time training with horses and practicing gunslinging skills, traditional western style.  In the end of the day, Joe made an action western so it didn’t really feel like a completely new genre to me.

Tell me a little bit about your history with westerns. In Russia, was the western genre something that was well regarded, or was it too foreign for that audience? What are some of your favorite westerns and who are some of your favorite western film or TV stars?

I was growing up in USSR and I couldn’t watch any American Westerns over there at the time. But the funny thing is, I remember all those “Easterns” (kind of Westerns which were made in Eastern Germany and Yugoslavia) and they always portrayed Indians as good guys and cowboys as bad guys. I think I saw my first real Western on a pirated video in the beginning of the 90s and it was THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Clint Eastwood became my favorite Western star and he still is.

Talk a little bit about becoming the real-life character you play in Gunfight. The film divulges a bit about this man’s history, and it’s all new to me, so explain how you were able to adapt this historical figure into a feature film where you get to step into his shoes, in a sense, and how you honored his legacy.

As I said already, I did my homework. I’ve read articles about Ivan or John Basil Turchin (as he called himself in the US). I thought that he had to be strong and tough. So it wasn’t hard for me to look the part. But he had a couple of dark stories in his bio and I had to portray him as a kind of a tortured soul. Our film’s story takes place years after the War, but my character is still haunted by the ghosts of his past… It was an honor to play Ivan and I just hoped that our film reintroduced this great real life hero to a new generation.


Joe Cornet is clearly someone you enjoy working with, as you’ve now shot two movies with him. What’s the best part of your working relationship, and how does that translate into what we see in this movie?

We actually shot  three movies together already and we’re about to start the fourth one! Joe is amazing. He’s very talented, but he’s also well organized and is always well prepared, very positive and ready to help. He’s an actor, writer and producer as well, so he understands all the “pieces of a puzzle”, as I like to call it. I’ve worked with many great directors, including Walter Hill, but Joe is the best director I’ve ever worked with, no question about it. And many critics, including yourself, called GUNFIGHT AT RIO BRAVO my best movie to this date. It’s definitely Joe Cornet’s achievement!

You obviously enjoy surrounding yourself with friends and people you trust in the movies you make. You’ve got Matthias Hues and Oliver Gruner in this movie, both guys you’ve worked with before, if I’m not mistaken. Say something about working with them on this movie and the shorthand you might’ve developed in working with them again. Also say something about working again with Don Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock on the next film, Taken From Rio Bravo.

As I previously told you, I started to watch Hollywood movies on videotapes in the 90s and I fell in love with action stars right away! Arnold, Stallone, Eastwood, Chuck Norris – I loved them all. And Don Wilson, Matthias, Olivier and Cynthia Rothrock were also my heroes. I’m proud to call them my friends and colleagues now! I did two films with Olivier, Cynthia and Don, and five with Matthias already. It’s all truly a dream come true. But give me some time and I’ll finally make a movie with my bodybuilding idols Arnold and Ralf Moeller!


Say something about your wardrobe in Gunfight. Did it feel natural for you to wear western gear, a hat, and a belt holster with a gun? How often did you practice drawing your gun until you got it right?

The leather jacket was my choice. I wanted to look like a Terminator of Wild West! A hat, a holster, cowboy boots – I loved it all! And I practiced drawing and spinning the gun for about three moths.


The recent tragedy on the film set for Rust really put the spotlight on independent films, and a western film to boot. Talk a little bit about the gun safety you had on set and how that was implemented to yours and Joe Cornet’s satisfaction. You, being the producer, I would imagine had something to do with hiring the right people for that job.

It was a terrible tragedy! As a producer, you have to make sure that you have a professional armorer on the set. And, as an actor, you have to make sure that you’ll never point the gun directly at a person, while making sure of taking proper safety precautions. I’ve made two Westerns with Joe Cornet and he’s always very serious about gun safety. By the way, our great armorer Jon Marss is an actor himself and played the villain Grady in GUNFIGHT AT RIO BRAVO.


Do you think Gunfight is specifically just for your fans, or do you think the film has a broader appeal for a wider audience who don’t necessarily know who you are?

This film will satisfy fans of Western genre and fans of classic action. I hope that my fans and fans of Matthias, Joe and Olivier will like it as well!


Alexander, what other genres would you like to produce, direct, or star in in the future? What’s your dream project?

I just produced a horror film called NIGHT OF THE CAREGIVER which was directed by Joe Cornet and it was fun. I love horror and sci-Fi. And I really love fantasy. I do have a dream project and it’s a fantasy genre film. I will not tell you what it is exactly, but one day you’ll be really surprised and, I hope, you’ll be happy for me.