7 Most Famous Russian Actors

Russian actor
Vladimir Mashkov /Youtube.com

Russia had never been short on talent, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Russian actors are some of the most talented actors in the world.

Some of the actors, in the search for better opportunities (that Russia could not offer at the time), left Moscow and moved to the USA. 

Keep reading to find out about some of the top Russian actors, their film careers and more. 

Top Russian Actors

1. Vladimir Mashkov 

Vladimir Mashkov (born on the 27th of November 1963 in Novokuznetsk) is a top Soviet and Russian actor. He is also a film director, producer, and writer. 

Vladimir was born in a family of actors. In the late seventies, his family moved to Novosibirsk, where the actor studied biology. He was not satisfied with that subject and dropped out of the University to join Novosibirsk State Theater Institute.

Unfortunately, In 1984, he was dismissed from that institution. 

But, Vladimir was persistent. He moved to Moscow, where he heard about the Moscow Art Theatre. He joined the class of the famous top actor Mikhail Tarkhanov.

He had his debut as an actor in the movie called Zelyonyy ogon kozy ( English: The Goat’s Green Fire), and went on to graduate from the Moscow Art Theatre in 1990. 

He is mostly known for his roles in the Russian dramas The Edge and American Daughter. He also played a successful tycoon in the Tycoon: A New Russian. The Hollywood audience knows him for his amazing role in Moore’s Behind Enemy Lines. 

2. Yuri Kolokolnikov

Yuri was born in Moscow, in 1980. He had a difficult childhood. His mother was a translator, and by the age of 10, they moved to the USA.

His mother supported him and he finally ended up in Moscow where he tried his best to become a top Russian actor.

The nineties in Russia were very hard for most of its people because the economy was on the downfall [1]. Yuri was selling apples at the city market in Moscow in order to survive. 

However, his determination and will for living a better life gave him hope and strength. He studied acting very hard at the Boris Shchukin Theatre Institute (Russian: Театральный институт имени Бориса Щукина)

To this very day, he is remembered as one of the most persistent and hardworking students to have ever studied there. 

His work paid off and he entered the Russian film industry. 

In 2000, he moved to the USA and worked on some low-budget projects to make a living. His life turned upside down after landing a role in a top television series Diary of a Killer

Many people know him today because of his famous role of Styr in the mega-popular HBO series Game of Thrones. He also played a “bad Russian” in The Hitman’s Bodyguard and the “good Russian” in the action thriller Hunter Killer..

3. Ravil Isyanov

He was born in 1962, in a typical Soviet family. Besides being a top student, his fame came to him quite early, as he took part in many amateur projects as a kid. 

From that point on it was clear that he was meant to be the future of Russian acting. 

At the beginning of the 90s, at the time when he got his diploma, it was a very difficult time for the country. Therefore, he had no other choice but to move somewhere else. 

There weren’t any opportunities for young actors in the USSR, but the United States knew how to make use of his acting capabilities and make him an international star. 

If someone needed a Russian fella, he would be called, which led to him being typecast like so many other actors in Hollywood.

Nonetheless, there was plenty of work for him as an actor throughout the years. Some of the most popular roles he is known for are Igor Suslov in K-19: The Widowmaker, admiral Konstantin in the series The Last Ship and Viktor in Edward Zwick’s film Defiance

His brief appearance in the role of Anton Petrov (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) is also quite remarkable, as is the role of Gregory in 2017 Netflix comedy-drama Glow. 

4. Mikhail Gorevoy 

He is one of the best Russian actors in America. The English-speaking world knows him as Michael Gor.

Like many other top Russian actors, he got his education in the USSR at the Moscow Art Theatre. He graduated as the most promising student in his class. 

His movie debut happened in 1988. He played a minor role in a Russian film called Step. The movie was directed by Alexander Mitta. 

Few years after that, he moved to the United States, and lived in New York and Boston. He stood out from other great Russian actors in Hollywood by playing the role of Vladimir Popov in the James Bond movie Die Another Day

Other notable appearances he had were in Is Light On Sight, Some Like It Hot and in Bridge of Spies, where he played Ivan Schischkin. 

As a young actor in America, he worked on his craft by learning the Stanislavski method. It is an acting method that influenced western theoreticians and actors, through its systematic approach to acting [2].

5. Alexander Baluev

Alexander is a Russian actor that first comes to your mind when someone mentions Russian actors.

He lived in Moscow, and from an early age wanted to go to the Boris Shchukin Theatre Institute. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go there but eventually graduated from the Moscow Art Theatre.

In 1980, he successfully completed his acting training and became an actor in the Theatre of the Soviet Army. The first significant roles of his theatrical career were the roles in Clock without hands and Lady of the Camellias

In 1986, Aleksandr Baluev went to the Moscow Yermolova Theatre, where he played a leading role in three shows: The second year of freedom, Snow, near the prison, and Caligula

In the late 1980s, Aleksandr Baluev left the theater and focused on his film career. 

The wide audience recognizes him for his role in The Peacemaker, where he fought Nicole Kidman and George Clooney. He also played an astronaut who saves the world from an asteroid in Deep Impact

Among many interesting characters he created, people shouldn’t forget his interpretation of Mark in Zvyagintsev’s masterpiece The Banishment.

6. Oleg Taktarov

Oleg is another Russian actor that cannot be left out of this list. 

Even though many people know Oleg as a (now retired) martial artist, he had a great career in Hollywood as well. 

People know him from the role of Oleg Razgul in Herzfeld’s film 15 minutes

Unlike the other top Russian actors on this list his main occupation wasn’t acting from the very beginning. He became popular in the USSR because of his strength and fighting capabilities. It was only after he moved away from the USSR that he dedicated himself to film. 

When he came to the USA, he was rejected because he wasn’t fluent in English. After he learned the language, the career opportunities as a Russian actor in Hollywood opened up.

It all began with the role of Boris in 1997 Total Force. He played a character named Boris three times after that: Boris Checkinov in 1997 Absolute Force, in My Friend’s Love Affair and in the 2001 crime movie The Quickle where he worked with the popular Vladimir Mashkov.

This actor also got the main role in the popular Russian television series Ex-Wife, created in 2013.

7. Konstantin Khabensky

And last but not least: Konstantin Khabensky. Konstantin is another top contemporary actor from Russia. He played a major part in more than 30 theatrical performances and more than 60 on film.

He is a member of the theatre troupe A.P.Chekhov. He made a great career in Hollywood and in the old continent as well. 

On June 24th, 2020, he received the State Prize for outstanding achievements. He received this award from the Russian president – Vladimir Putin, himself. 

The Bottom Line

The raw talent of the Russian actors was never in question. The acting schools in Russia were always full of young Russian actors in the making. Unfortunately, it was very difficult for a young actor to be known outside of Russia.

Thankfully, nowadays things are considerably different.


  1. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/stanislavsky_c.html
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405473916300307 

Invite Us to Your Inbox

Join 6347 other people interested in Slavic culture. We don't spam and will only send you an email once or twice a month with latest and most popular articles on Slavs.

Newsletter Below Content

About the author


Meet the Slavs

Posts by the Meet the Slavs Team.

Meet the Slavs is your most comprehensive online resource about Slavic people, their cuisine, culture, history, mythology, and more.

Join Meet the Slavs Mailing List

Newsletter - Sidebar Widget