Leonid Kuravlyov

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Leonid Kuravlyov
Born Leonid Vyacheslavovich Kuravlyov
(1936-10-08) 8 October 1936 (age 85)
Moscow, USSR
Occupation actor
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Nina Kuravlyova
Children Ekaterina Kuravlyova (1962)
Vasily Kuravlyov (1978)
Parent(s) Vyacheslav Yakovlevich Kuravlyov (1909–1970)
Valentina Dmitrievna Kuravlyova (1916–1993)

Leonid Vyacheslavovich Kuravlyov (Russian: Леонид Вячеславович Куравлёв) (born October 8, 1936) is a Soviet/Russian actor and People's Artist of the RSFSR (1976).

Leonid Kuravlyov was born in Moscow in 1936. In 1941, Kuravlyov's mother was falsely accused and exiled to the Russian North, where they would spend several years until their return to Moscow. In 1955, Leonid Kuravlyov was accepted to the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography and began studying the art of acting.

Leonid Kuravlyov and Vasily Shukshin

Leonid Kuravlyov made his first appearance in a movie while he was still a student. In 1959 he played in the film There Will Be No Leave Today by his classmate Andrei Tarkovsky. In 1960, he played the role of a sailor Kamushkin in a historical movie Michman Panin (Warrant Officer Panin) directed by Mikhail Shveitzer. Simultaneously, Kuravlyov acted in Vasily Shukshin's degree work Iz Lebyazhyego soobshchayut (They report from Lebyazhiy). That same year, Kuravlyov graduated from VGIK and joined the Theater Studio of Film Actors. From that moment on, Leonid Kuravlyov played a few leading parts and incidental characters in a few movies. In 1961, Kuravlyov and Shukshin starred in a famous Soviet melodrama Kogda derevya byli bolshimi (When the Trees Were Tall) with Yuri Nikulin playing the leading part. Actor and film director Vasily Shukshin is considered to have been the one to widely introduce Leonid Kuravlyov to the general public. In 1964, he shot two films – Zhivyot takoy paren' (There Is Such a Lad) and Vash syn i brat (Your Son and Brother) – both starring Leonid Kuravlyov. Shukshin liked Kuravlyov's acting in these two movies so much that he would constantly offer him different roles in many of his projects. Kuravlyov, however, turned down each one of them because he did not wish to play clichéd characters.

Late 1960s

The role of Shura Balaganov in Mikhail Shveitser's comedy The Little Golden Calf based on Ilf and Petrov's eponymous book was the next step in Leonid Kuravlyov's acting career, in which he managed to create an unforgettable sparkling image of a naive petty thief. Kuravlyov's other notable films of this period include one of the first Soviet horror movies Viy (Viy or Spirit of Evil; 1967) adaptation of Gogol's novell directed by Georgi Kropachyov, where he played a young seminarist Khoma Brutus, and a psychological melodrama Nepodsuden (Not Under the Jurisdiction; 1969) directed by Vladimir Krasnopolsky and Valeri Uskov, where he played a negative character of Sorokin.


In the early 1970s, Leonid Kuravlyov would star in three to four films a year. He managed to play completely opposite characters like Robinson Crusoe in Stanislav Govorukhin's Zhizn i udivitelniye priklyucheniya Robinzona Kruzo (Life and Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe; 1972), Nazi officer Kurt Eismann in Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973), and Lavr Mironovich in Pyotr Todorovsky's Poslednyaya zhertva (The Last Victim; 1975).

Even though Kuravlyov is very good at playing serious dramatic roles, he is still best known and mostly loved for his comic appearances in movies like Leonid Gaidai's Ivan Vasilyevich menyayet professiyu (1973), where Kuravlyov played a thief named George Miloslavsky, who accidentally got teleported to the times of Ivan the Terrible. Interestingly enough, Andrei Mironov also tried out for this role, but Leonid Gaidai decided in Kuravlyov's favor.

In 1975, Leonid Kuravlyov starred in one his most famous comedies Afonya, directed by Georgi Daneliya. Kuravlyov played a very atypical character – a plumber named Afonya Borshchyov, who takes bribes, often gets into trouble, abuses alcohol, quarrels with his superiors at work, and doesn’t really know what to do with his life. And then suddenly, one of his neighborhood "female clients" falls in love with him... About 62,2 mln. people went to see Afonya during its first year on cinema screens, making it an unconditional Soviet box-office leader of 1975.

In 1979, Leonid Kuravlyov played a very short role of a thief named Kopchyoniy in Stanislav Govorukhin’s cult film The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed. The actor masterfully created an accomplished and amazingly credible image of an experienced criminal in just a matter of minutes.

1980s and 1990s

During the 1980s, Leonid Kuravlyov starred in a number of memorable movies, such as Damy priglashayut kavalerov (Ladies Invite Gentlemen, 1980), Ishchite zhenshchinu (Look for a Woman, 1982), Demidovy (Demidovs, 1983), TASS upolnomochen zayavit... (TASS Is Authorized to Declare..., 1984), Samaya obayatelnaya i privlekatelnaya (The Most Charming and Attractive, 1985), Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Dvadtsatyy vek nachinaetsya (Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Twentieth Century Approaches, 1986) and many others.

The 1990s were not the best times for the Russian cinema in general and most of the released movies were mediocre and low-grade. During this period, many actors were forced to star in low-quality films just to make ends meet, and Leonid Kuravlyov was not an exception. Perhaps, his role in a movie called Baryshnya-krestyanka (Lady Into Lassie, 1995) is the only one worth mentioning.

1990s to present

In 2002 he starred in Russian mini-TV series Brigada as an MVD general. In 2009 he played the Nobleman in Disney's first Russian-only release, Kniga Masterov (The Book of the Masters), a Princess Bride-like comedy fantasy based on themes from Russian folk tales such as Baba-Yaga, Koshchei the Immortal, Konek-Gorbunok, Ivan the Fool and the Alatyr Stone.

Selected filmography

External links