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Oleg Taktarov, Glamorous Fighter

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Oleg TaktarovOleg Taktarov is an amazing man. An athlete, an actor, a frequenter of social events on both sides of the ocean, who is equally comfortable in Moscow and Los Angeles, Montreal and New York, and even in the little obscure town of Sarov in Nizhny Novgorod region, where the next ultimate fighting champion was born. This memorable event happened on August 26, 1967. At that time, the town, being a typical «mailbox», was known as Arzamas-16. As a child, Oleg engaged in sambo training and rapidly progressed, turning all his energy to study the martial art and sparring techniques. Taktarov was a frequent participant in various sambo competitions in which he scored top places.

By 1994, Oleg already was a famous athlete and a recognized martial arts expert. Besides, he had a profitable business in Nizhny Novgorod which gave him confidence to survive in the economically troubled Russian reality. But Taktarov dreamed of something else, something bigger. So he decided to participate in the «White Dragon» Ultimate Fighting Tournament in Riga, and effortlessly became a champion.

In 1994, without green card, savings or any knowledge of English, Taktarov left for the United States to pursue his dream - to become a Hollywood actor. But he was a highly motivated Russian man who is known for his ability to take on the world for his dream. All the mountains, rivers and forests of California were at his disposal. But he had no shelter or residence. During his first months in America, Taktarov lived in a tiny room with cockroaches and a running boiler which he shared with demoniacal noisy Mexicans. For three years, Taktarov has been studying acting at the L.A. Playhouse, a drama school. He earned his living by engaging in ultimate fighting championships. Even though he wasn't known overseas, he earned tens of thousands of dollars, as «the Russian Bear» (that's the nickname he was given in America) always scored victory.

Oleg Taktarov became a talking point after his victory at the sixth Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament, when he defeated a former UFC champion, the larger David «Tank» Abbot in the final battle which lasted for 17 minutes. This fight has opened the door to Hollywood for him.

Hollywood producers who are used to getting only the best now invited Taktarov to stage battle scenes. Over time, he was trusted with small roles of villainous characters and bad guys from Eastern Europe.

In 2001, Taktarov worked as a fighting scene director at John Hertzfeld's «15 Minutes», and Hertzfeld offered him the role of a criminal, Klaus Nowak. But Oleg was so professional both as a fighter and an actor, that Hertzfeld and Robert De Niro who was starring in the movie decided to rename his character to Oleg Razgulov. As a criminal rampaging through Manhattan with a camcorder to film his atrocities, Taktarov riveted audiences with a high impact performance that required him to brutalize De Niro's cop. By the way, he got the «15 Minutes» job after auditioning with De Niro and competing with more than a thousand actors for the role. During the shoot, De Niro shared acting advice with Taktarov, who returned the favor with pointers for realistic fight scenes. The stuntmen team of the movie has won the most prestigious award in its field, Taurus: World Stunt Awards, for the realistic action scenes. This award made Taktarov a Hollywood insider.

By the way, Robert De Niro was the only movie-maker who came to Taktarov's wedding, although the latter had sent out a pile of invitations. There was also another occasion when they flew together from New York to Montreal and had a very nice conversation. Open and friendly De Niro was totally different from the rude and taciturn man of the mass media. It is quite possible that in the future, the great American would invite Taktarov to participate in his projects.

In fact, Oleg Taktarov loves to mingle with Hollywood celebrities. After the presentation of the «15 Minutes» the party continued in the house of one of the movie producers. On his way to kitchen, Taktarov had nearly swept another man off his feet. The man was also heading for the kitchen. Taktarov took a closer look and recognized Jack Nicholson. Now, they like to laugh at the funny incident. Oleg Taktarov is on familiar terms with Nicholas Cage and Warren Beatty. The only Hollywood celebrity who made a bad impression on Taktarov is self-enamoured Bruce Willis.

Having built a successful career in Hollywood, Taktarov returned to Russia. While contributing to American theatrical and television hits, Taktarov has also supported the emerging film industry in his homeland by accepting roles in Russian produced projects. Taktarov wants that the ratio of Hollywood Russian productions in his filmography was 50x50. Presently, the majority of his 37 projects were produced overseas.

In 2009, a number of films featuring Oleg Taktarov will be released, including Viy: The Return, Generation P, The Way, By the Will of Chingis Khan, and The Goal. Don't miss them.

Inessa Hyder

 

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