RUSSIA! Magazine is proud to present actor Viggo Mortensen, the star of David Cronenberg's hit Eastern Promises, with its inaugural Rolling R – an annual award for the best "Russian" performance by a Hollywood actor. The official citation commends Mortensen for his "sensitive, multifaceted and authentic" portrayal of Nikolai, a morally conflicted thug.
"Unlike the Muslim, Jewish and other communities, the Russians have been historically docile about being portrayed as drunk, murderous plotters," explains Michael Idov, the editor of RUSSIA!, "But that's not the offensive part. The offensive part is being portrayed as a drunk, murderous plotter with a Czech name and a Transylvanian accent."
"The bar for verisimilitude is so low right now that, even in an excellent film like The Bourne Identity, Bourne's 'Russian' passport is filled with random gibberish. We'd like to reward the ones doing it right. This year, we're proud to acknowledge Mr. Mortensen, whose star turn in Eastern Promises is amazingly sensitive, multifaceted, and above all authentic. His character even speaks a specific old-school thief slang, and switches to Ukrainian when comforting a Ukrainian woman."
Named after a hard-to-master feature of Slavic pronunciation, the Rolling R is playfully described by its founders as an award for "General Excellence In Acting Russian." "Almost every major American actor has, at some point, tried on a Russian accent," writes RUSSIA! Magazine in its Fall 2007 issue. "Tom Cruise? Spoke it in Mission: Impossible. Bruce Willis? The Jackal. Val Kilmer? The Saint. Al Pacino? The Devil’s Advocate. Almost all of them sucked."
RUSSIA!'s own list of five all-time best "Russian" performances, published in the same issue, has Nicole Kidman at the top for her turn in the little-seen Birthday Girl. She is followed by John Malkovich in Rounders, Cate Blanchett in The Man Who Cried, and the duo of Vanessa Redgrave and Maximilian Schell in Little Odessa. All future performances, the magazine explains, will be judged against these five. The actual award consists of a certificate and a round mini-sculpture.
RUSSIA!, a quarterly, independent English-language glossy, defines itself as devoted to "most original coverage of people, trends, ideas and events" taking place in or around Russia. The Fall 2007 issue is on newsstands at major book retailers, as well as online at www.readrussia.com.
More information about the Award at http://www.readrussia.com/rolling_r_2007.htm