Andrey Ivchenko

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Andrey Ivchenko never had the luxury of instant success, or luxuries of any kind for that matter. He was born in the city of Kharkov in the heart of the Ukraine on July 1, 1971. He was raised by his parents, an artist and librarian respectively, the latter of which would find books being brought home on a  regular basis. Andrey loved to read but his real passion was watching movies. It’s the classic scene  of a young boy laying on his stomach holding his head up with both hands, memorized by the moving images in front of him. It was here that he decided that one day he would become an actor. Once in middle school he didn’t hesitate enrolling in the offered theatre program where he spent four years mastering and owning the stage.

He left his country in 1999 and after traveling a bit he ended up in London for a few years. Moving to Canada was a big step. Almost immediately Andrey secured an agent and began working as a Background Performer (Extra), which helped him build not only experience on set, but in the film industry as a whole and also to gain the connections he would later need to inch closer to his goals. He began landing small actor/stunt roles on such television series as Falling Skies and Nikita as well as his first feature part in the film titled The Mountie.

In 2012 he was cast as one of the leads in the movie Freezer along with Dylan McDermott and Pet Facinelli.  Andrey moved to Los Angeles not long ago, he’s polishing his craft & aiming to get successful in Hollywood. His star is continuing to rise even as this article is written.

No matter how you slice it Andrey made his own luck. The dreams that were seemingly unattainable in his youth are slowly becoming a reality, through hard work and determination Andey is literally willing them into fruition. He truly deserves the success he has and inevitably will have more in the future.

Andrey_Ivchenko041.  You were born in  Kharkov in the heart of the Ukraine, and you spent your teenage time spending reading many books, watching movies. Is it correct to say that this inspired  you to decide to work in the movie industry ? And is that one of the reasons you left your country in 1999 to become an actor? And where did you move to become an actor and which was your first movie?  How did you feel when you first saw yourself on the big screen?

I was born in the city of Kharkov (Ukraine). I was reading a lot at that time, watching lots of movies & dreaming of becoming an actor. The reason I left my country was that everything was going down, no jobs, no money, people were trying just to survive. I lived in Europe and than moved to Canada.

My first break was in the movie calls The Mountie, we shot in Yukon very close to Alaska and it was certainly a very good experience. I was excited to see myself on the screen, but because I was never satisfied with the result of my work, it was also the realization of what I have to work on.

2.  Do you think your upbringing influenced the direction your acting career has taken?

I was born and raised in the Ukraine. I lived in Europe for a couple years. I lived in North American. Because of my looks and accent I get cast as a bad guy. Growing up in the former Soviet Union I grew up with all these guys who were big criminals. Some guys were in gangs – I grew up with these guys. We did stuff together. We were going to parties together. There were only a few gyms in town so I saw these guys and I know how they talk and what they do in different types of situations. When somebody is in that environment for years and years and years you know how to bring it to the characters you play and you know how to play it. You know what to do in situations. It is definitely more authentic. More than British American or Australian. They don’t know how Russian people act in situations. You can do research and play that character to a certain degree but you still cannot do it as authentic Russian. Not as well as person for from former Soviet Union.

3.  Do you think there is a movie out there that captures the Russian personality with authenticity?

Eastern Promises – best movie out there for authenticity. The director did his research. They had real Russian gangsters on set for advice. He’s been through prison, different mafia business. He was guiding through every scene. How to look how to act. It brings a lot of original things to the movie and the characters. Out of all the movies I all the decades. Best movie about Russian mafia. All the guys are amazing actors. It comes close to authentic. But it still wasn’t in small details. If you’re American or European you don’t notice the differences, but Russians will spot it.

I’d like to see Hollywood bring more diversity to the film industry. More authenticity to foil the industry. America is very multi-cultural and that is what makes the audience unique. They see someone from their homeland played by someone else and they can’t relate to the character.

Screenshot_2014-10-08-13-23-48-1_resized4.  So you would like to see more authenticity in the films Hollywood is producing?

In a lot of Hollywood movies there is like Japanese character speaking Korean or Chinese speaking Indonesian or something completely different. It’s not cool for such a big industry to not bring authenticity to the industry. My friends have many different backgrounds and they have he same mindset. They are upset with Hollywood picking up the big stars.  It is good for the profit. Most of the time it is about the money. But you have to bring the diversity. When you make it more diverse it brings more labor to the film industry but it usually just looks fake.

5.  Do you feel you are being “typecast” in the industry?

Hollywood. The vision of Hollywood is you are mafia, or bad guy or whatever. Professor at university. Once you put that person in university actor shoes the audience accepts it. Not everyone in the world with an accent is a bad guy. I always like action heroes – Jason Spader he’s always an action guy. I don’t mind being typecast as an action hero but I don’t like being typecast as Eastern European bad guy.

I can play any character. Give me the opportunity. A lot of times I watch the auditions and the guy that gets the part isn’t Russian. The British guy gets it. So the guy that got it is British – I don’t get it. Even in these brackets you can’t make it all the time. The part goes to some guy who is not even Eastern European. I’d like to have more diversity in the roles I play but it is not up to me. I’m working on it now. You have to play different angles and hopefully it will change.

It would be lovely if Hollywood could change its position towards actors with accents. It’s the 21st century and people are leaving one country for another, regarding to that we are all have accents. From my perception all actors have to be even in pursuing their dreams.

Screenshot_2015-08-06-20-34-29_resized6.  What were some of the movies you were watching growing up?  What is your favorite movie?

We didn’t have American movie at that time – we were behind the Soviet Union and Iron Curtain.  At Moscow festivals sometimes we would get American films.  Mostly Soviet, French and German movies.

There were Soviet movies about war.  Drama about life in Russia.  Eastern European countries made movies about cowboys and indians.  We were drawn to that culture – something we cannot reach.  We didn’t have too much information about the USA.  Just from Soviet movies about the US based on some books.  That was the only information we could get from that culture.

When we were teenagers we liked to play cowboys and indians.  I always liked action.  And watching all the war movies and action movies set up my mind with that genre.  It is what I was drawn to.

7.  Which movie gave you the most inspiration to work in the film industry?

We didn’t have American movies when I was a teen, but when I got a bit older I started to watch Schwarzenegger & Stallone movies and that was a big impact on my decision to become an actor.

8.  I understand you got your start in the industry by modeling?

Modeling. It wPortrait 3as kind of a big disaster because I don’t fit the kind of requirements for being a model. They wanted me to get skinnier and skinnier and skinnier. It wasn’t for me. This is how I am. I can’t starve myself to death. I was also too old. Based on my age criteria. So I said “f–k that”.  I was done with that business.  My first agency did acting, commercials, and modeling.  Their major focus was modeling.  They focused on that most of the time. But they also had acting and commercial side and I managed to get my first break through their agency. They followed up with the casting director and I got the part.  It was after that that I said goodbye to modeling. I went on to a different firm and modeling was done.

9.  What was the role you were cast for?

I was cast for a role in The Mountie.  Lions Gate called it The Way of the West.  Shot in Yukon close to border. Great experience. They searched for locations from helicopter. It was real wilderness. It was a forest in the deep wilderness. They hired the crew to cut two kilometers through the woods to get to the river from the base camp. It was cool to shoot there. We were shooting for a month. We stayed in White Horse, the Capitol. I think there’s 1500 people there. It is crazy expensive. It is Indian land. I met some people on set. They wanted to buy a house. They were renting for a year and a half and it cost as much as to buy a house. It’s the same price as in Toronto. We had to drive an hour and a half to base camp for breakfast. We then took ATV’s to the shooting site. There were wild bears so we had security with guns 24/7.

10.  You moved to Los Angeles not too long ago.  What is the most difficult part for you in the film industry as an actor? You look Russian and have a very well-built physique like a real bodybuilder so sometimes it must be hard for you to play a variety of roles, am I correct? Or alternatively, because you are very tall and have the well-built physique, have you realized your true self playing roles of fighters, soldiers and stunts?

Well, to become recognizable actor in Hollywood is pretty hard because you have big competition. In my case, I also got typecast because of my looks and accent, and of course of my size. Sometimes I think it’s fear from casting directors that I will overpower the main character. It’s hard to give a simple answer to that question because it’s actually a complex of reasons in that matter.

11.  I am aware that you were in the well-known TV series on TNT by Steven Spielberg  called Falling Skies.  Did you enjoy acting in such a large TV series? What was the most vivid memory you had from acting in that series? Did you have any great influences from the show

Working on Spielberg’s Falling Skies was a tremendous experience. Let me start from that all cast of that show are my friends, very talented actors & great people. The names such as Will Patton, Noah Wyle, Drew Roy, Colin Cunningham, Peter Shinkoda, Mpho Koaho, Moon Bloodgood, just to name a few, says a lot to the audience.  It was very easy to work on the show because Greg Beeman (producer of the show) knows how to make it fun.  Frankly speaking, I can’t even name the most memorable moment because there were a lot of them. But during the filming I made a solid decision to move to LA as soon as possible.

12.  I went to see the premier of Freezer starring Dylan McDermott and your part was pretty awesome. I really liked that movie. I know that you spent 12 hours in a real freezer shooting for that film.  I also the story. Did the movie give you the influences in your mind being in film industry?

Another great experience working on movie Freezer. I hit it off with Dylan right away and we become friends. He’s not just a God –  gifted actor and hard worker but he’s also an amazing human being absolutely without any star syndrome. We spent 12 hours every day in the freezer which was built in the studio and they pumped real cold air inside. The reason is that Mikael Salomon wanted everything to be realistic on the screen including steam coming out of the people mouths. So no CGI in this movie. The cast and crew were amazing, everybody work hard. I learn a lot from Dylan and Peter Facinelli on this set. My character only speaks Russian in the movie so I thought it was a pretty cool experience to play somebody who supposedly didn’t understand a word of English.

Andrey_Ivchenko0213.  I remember we were talking about the movie John Wick.  Is it too late for you to get an audition to be in John Wick 2?

I watched John Wick when it came out – the best action movie from the past 5-7 years.  No offense to Fast & Furious.  John Wick really impressed me.  This was an opportunities for a production company to produce action movies with amazing action.  John Wick was impressive with the detail and action details.  I do stunts myself.  I could only compare the stunts to the latest James Bond movies with Daniel Craig.  The fight scenes are very detailed in Bond films.  Same in John Wick.  Greatly done.

Only thing.  I don’t know the story in the second one.  Story in first one is Russian bad guys.  Diversity really doesn’t exist here.  All the Russian was played by Australian or British actors.  Not a single Russian actor in the movie.  I know at least two or three actors who could play the parts in John Wick.  I understand why Russian companies do it to attack audience and the actors with big names.  These days it takes a month or two to make you big.  Especially if the actor is good.  Why wouldn’t you take somebody who is Russian and skilled and experienced and put him in the movie?  Make it more authentic?  North America is very multi-cultural.  There are people from all over the world.  Lets say the former Soviet Union audience, when they watch the actors playing Russian characters they can’t understand anything they say.  They never come close to the Russian culture.  As much as they play and research there is no better actor to play a Russian than a Russian.  For any culture; Japanese will play Japanese.  It will be more authentic.  It was painful for me because none of the Russian actors I know were able to audition for that movie.

14.  Can you tell us about what you have been working on with Ty Granderson Jones?  I am sure you look ‘Super Cool’ in his film Diamond (i donated $50, i wished i could do more!) can you tell us about this project here on Ninjagirl?  I would like to know about it.

Andrey and TyTy is a great guy.  Down to earth.  Great guy over all.  Approachable.  I met him in LA.  We met in a gym.  We clicked right away.  He told me what he does and I told him what I do.  We saw each other after in the gym and became friends.

A couple months later he told me about a project that was coming.  It was still in the development phase.  He said he had a part for me in the movie.  It was a short film but has the potential to become a full-length film.  Its a short-film movie but has the ability to be a pitch for a project at a higher level.  He wants to get the attention of people in the industry.

I don’t have a big part in the movie but there will be a more significant role when it becomes a full-length feature.  It probably took 20 hours for me to do the shooting for the film.  We were only allowed to shoot for one day at the club.

From my point of view we did a great job.  Ben Franklin the cameraman did a great job.  He’s been in the business for a long time.  The first cameraman walked away from the set on the first day.  So Ben is a great DOP.  I’ve already worked with him and I know he is a great guy.

For a movie like this with a budget like this it is a normal thing.  For this project people don’t get paid.  The actors are fine with that but it might be a complication for some people because their time is limited and they have other complications.

The shooting went well and Ty is in post-production.  I spoke to Ty a few weeks ago about Diamond.  He said everything is going pretty smooth.  Everything is going great.  The movie is coming out soon.

Ty had been in the business for awhile and he is very tough on himself and his work.  Everything has to be to the point.  When we talked he seemed pretty happy about how everything was going.  Even for a short feature film it takes about eight months to a year to do all the sound and editing, CGI, post production.  Even for the short film it takes a little bit.

The movie is about 14 minutes.  He’s going to bring it to festivals.  Caans, Sundance,  Tribecca etc.  He’ll probably do a short trailer to release before he brings it to the festivals to acknowledge the people involved with it.

Andrey and friends15.  Have you taken acting classes or done other formal training in the acting field?

I took classes in Toronto.  At the beginning in LA I took some classes but I stopped because I didn’t like the way they were teaching.  The way they were teaching it was more an egotistical journey for the teacher than bringing knowledge to the students as actors.  I disagreed with it and I didn’t want to pay the money for what I was getting.  It was really expensive.  Classes are overpriced in LA because they know people are coming from all over the country and have some money from working in Starbucks or something – maybe their parents.  But they have no knowledge about how things work in LA.  They think the classes will make them working actors – after 6 months they will become actors.  If you take any acting class you will get the knowledge and skills.  But its not always like this it is not the case.

My friend in the industry says acting classes are over-rated.  The teacher will teach you but it is up to you to learn.  So one will charge $200 another will charge $800.  I prefer to learn from people who are still working in the industry.  My teacher in Toronto has done everything in the industry.  But I am still learning from her because she is still in the industry.

Graham Shiels.  He studied at Yale.  So I wanted to watch what he was doing in his class.  This guy is working all the time.  So he charges students teaching acting.

For me I need someone who is in the industry and working. Someone who is constantly working.  It is better than someone who is in the classroom.  Guys in the industry can tell you what to pay attention to and what to do to make it in the industry.

SuitI like Graham.  He’s a student.  He’s one of them.  He is always learning.  The way he interacts he is a student with way more knowledge than the other students.  He’s sharing his knowledge with the other students.

Sometimes you go to a class and the guy’s up on the stage and he’s trying to be a father figure.  Graham is in the crowd and interacting with the other students who are trying to learn.  They listen to him.  It is like a normal conversation.

There’s a lot of big names out there that have schools in LA and they charge big money for their classes.  People go to the school and learn from the big name.  But many times they are not teaching the class.  You pay for the name but it is like a counterfeit.  Because they don’t have the skills themselves.  It’s not a formula.  It’s the stories they share working with different actors.  It is the knowledge connected to the experiences that matters. Art is supposed to be separate from money and material things but in Hollywood money is connected to the talent.  The money buys the talent.

I prefer to learn first-hand from the people who have the knowledge.

The set is the classroom and working and interacting with talent is how I learn.  Audition and set.  The audition is important to know how to work.  Having a talent for doing auditions can make your career.  Someone can be a great actor but if they cannot audition they won’t get the work.

Dylan in Freezer for example.  Nailing the audition got me the chance to work next to some great talent.  From working with them you learn from them.  Being on set with these guys is acting class.  There’s no thinking about it its just right there.  Be like a kid and absorb everything like a sponge. When you’re on set its like being a kid absorbing everything of a high caliber.  You don’t have to try to learn you just absorb everything.

16.  Do you feel the director has an influence over what the actors are able to learn on set?  Do you think they act as a “teacher” when the actors are working?

Screenshot_2014-11-24-02-47-11-1_resizedIf the director on set respects not only his vision but also trusts his actors with what they have to bring to the scene then the actors will grow.  The directors have their own vision and they are like a train on a rail and everyone moves along with them.  They don’t really listen to what the actors have to say.

Michael Solomon.  The great directors trust their actors and listen to them and what they may have to say about the production.  The actors might have something to say about the scene and its not all about the director’s way.  So the director will do a few takes their way and the actors way.  Many times the director will go with the way the actor wants to do it.  Like Dylan and Gillan in Freezer.  They were great.  They were willing to try new things.

In Freezer I was the Russian guy who didn’t understand English at all.  Gillan was playing the guy who knows English.  So in one scene my friend translates for me and I get more angry.  Some of the stuff wasn’t in the script and in the four weeks we were shooting they made a lot of the stuff up.

You want to work with the directors who are willing to let the actors be a part of the process.  They let the actors develop their characters and bring their talent to the role.  I think people like the villain who is a little likable.  The directors show respect and learn from them.  They also teach you from behind the camera.  They give suggestions.  How to act and what you look like on screen.

Director Anthony Hemingway from Fallen Skies,  he was arguing on set to get the lines for my character. He was great to work with.  Fun.  He listens to suggestions.  Respects your opinion.  If you want to add something or change something.  It doesn’t mean it will make it into the movie or tv series but he gives you the chance to show it.  It might end up in the bucket during the editing process.  But he gives you the chance to explore it.  He always gives you the chance to respect yourself.  Changing and adapting.

2015-08-04 11.05.07_resized17  Many of your roles are in the action genre and involve special stunts.  Do you do any physical training for the roles you play?

When I research my roles I think about how that person would do the same thing and how they would act in that scene. I have a military background and keep myself informed about that. I have Navy SEAL friends and I go to the shooting range with them. I keep myself in the loop with them.

I’ve been going to the gym since I was 15. When I was a teenager I read somewhere in a magazine that you have to try different techniques. You have to watch your body and how it responds to different diets and work out programs. For all these years I’ve been trying to not copy anyone. I watch myself and how my body responds to different workout routines.  At this age I can figure out what works for me.

I go to the gym five days a week. For an hour hour 15 minutes. I don’t believe in any diets. I eat a healthy diet. Feed enough protein and carbs to have enough energy and push my limits in the gym.

Basics are basics. But you learn about some different techniques and different foods. With my work in stunts it is important to be in good shape and prepare for.

18.  What have you been working on recently?

Auditions. Auditions. Auditions. Perfecting craft and network. Talking to managers and securing auditions. If you’re not targeting certain actors and actresses who just finished a project and what they are working on it is difficult. They are auditioning all the time. Sometimes it is down. For a month and a half I had nothing.  And suddenly it picked up and I go everyday. This is the process that you deal with on a daily basis. Study lines, go to auditions.

I showed an audition tape here to a director and had audition. They record the auditions like it is on set. We did a bunch of takes and the girl said we were done but I said keep going and the last take was awesome.

I finished one feature right before Christmas 2014 then finished at the end of January 2015. I was done with my part before Christmas. Scramble. I chatted with the director recently. We had a short talk. They did the raw cut recently. The feature will be animated like Sin City. It is an action comedy. They are doing sound, coloring, animation. They plan to screening in February 2016. The production company. Screen it on the three year anniversary.

Then I did Diamond. I also did pilot for TV series. The screening was about a month ago.

Also Six Feet Down Under I did a short 15 min pilot.  I was pleased to see the product was very good. Some projects you watch and you see a lot of flaws in it.  Especially with the action things.  Some editors have to cut some seconds out of the action so I was satisfied with the pilot.  They were taking to some distributors who deal with finances in the industry.  It looks like some people got interested in picking it up.  The project was initially a mini series but it is shifting to a full series.  The finances seem to be working out. I will talk to the director.  He is in negotiations about a feature film I will play one of the characters in it.

I also did an audition for third season of Bitten.  It’s a Canadian series. Its on Netflix, Amazon, SyFy channel – at least five episodes.

19.  Who are your favorite actors in your life past and now? I know that you are a very humble guy so I would like to know who you’d name as the best actor. Also who do you respect the most? You can name as many as you want.

I have a lot of actors & actresses I admire. As I mentioned the cast of Falling Skies is great, Dylan McDermott, Michael Ironside, De Niro, Al Pacino,  Kevin Bacon. But I also love action guys, I grew up with some of their movies. Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Kurt Russell, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bruce Willis.

I admire Arnold Schwarzenegger a lot, probably because I understand how hard it is to be an immigrant in another country. Despite that he achieved so many goals that most of the people won’t achieve even if they had three lives.

20.  Which movie or TV series did you like the most that you performed in?

I love Freezer hands down, also it was great working on Transporter (tv series), Nikita, XIII.

21.  What kind of movie or TV series would you like to be in, in the future?

I’d love to be in Expendables or Fast & Furious. TV shows probably Game of Thrones, Vikings, Walking Dead.

22.  What kind of story (script) would you like to get the leading part in?

Ideally I’d like to work only with good scripts. Any good story if it’s done the right way with talented cast would be fun to do. I’d like to do something different from what I’ve done; maybe drama or a life story.

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24.  I am sure you will be more successful in the film industry in your near future and will pursue your goal. What is the most important thing for you to keep up your motivation?

First and foremost, you just can’t give up. It’s the toughest industry from all to become successful and to get there you have to be patient. You have to work hard – always perfect your craft and have a good work ethic. Once you persistently follow your dream you’ll get where you want to be.

25. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

I’d like to be living out of this profession.  I’ve worked with big names but I would like to continue to do so.  It is an honor to work with them but also it is like a school learning from the best in the business.  Learning the craft and be in the industry.

Patience is a big thing.  You gotta wait for things to happen.  The business is based on money.  If you have the money you can have everything at once.  But to do it independently you are waiting for money from friends.

Everyone has to be patient and on the same page.  We all gotta sit back and wait.  Not sit back and do nothing but just wait.  Its not gonna happen tomorrow.

26.  Are there particular people you would like to work with in the industry?

The20150729_210657-1_resizedre are so many names I would like to work with.  Pacino, Cage, Cruise.  Action people.  To do it with big stars Stallone, Schwarzenegger.  Just have fun and learn on set with these people.  In action, I would like to learn from character actors like Freeman, Dicaprio, Depp.  Give me the green light, give me the script.  They are all great.  That is the beauty of the business you get to work with great actors or actresses. Even though they have been in the business for a long time.  Like Roth or Tarantino.  They were in Reservoir Dogs together a long time ago.  They started to make names for themselves but they are unique in the industry.  They have been shooting for a long time but they are unique.  Its just great to perfect your acting skills.

Di Nero…….. He can do anything.  Action, drama comedy, life story.  The film that just came out now.  I don’t know how popular it will be.  he plays the old guy coming to the university….he plays this old guy next to a pretty young woman.  Like a film they want to watch at home and relax.  He can pull anything off.  Any genre.  Any character.  I’m looking up to that guy.  He’s very versatile  transform himself from thief to family man.

I’m dreaming about having half of his skills. I’m looking up to that guy.

He’s lived a wild life.  I want to have a good scotch and cigar with the guy!

27.  I know it is hard to get a big role and become really famous in Hollywood as an actor, but for me, it looks so exciting because you will never know when suddenly the big luck will come down to you. How do you feel about all these to staying as an acAndrey_Ivchenko03tor?

It is hard to become successful in Hollywood, but you have to stay positive and improve yourself. It takes time for Hollywood to notice you but if you are talented actor/actress, you time will come and you’ll have your big break.

28.  To your viewers and fans, would you like to send a message for them? 

To all people who love the movies and all my fans, I want to say, follow your dreams and do what you love. Watch the movies as often as you can and appreciate your fellows actors. They have chosen an uneasy path to entertain and make some art for you.

Thanks guys for following me and thank you for your support. I hope my fan base will grow every day week and month. Go to Ninjagirl. Read all the interviews. The interviews are awesome. We are trying every day to entertain you better and better. Enjoy your life and follow your dreams. If you never try you never know. Never be satisfied with anything you do. If you try one more time you will do it that much better. It is always good if you get paid for what you do. But even if you don’t you will enjoy what you do. Go to Ninjagirl and follow the people trying to entertain you on a daily basis. I will try to do everything I can to entertain you every day.

29.  This is the last question, what is your favorite thing to do in your private time?

When I have free time,  love to work out, meeting friends, travel, but also I love what I do and consider it rather fun time than work.

Thank you very much for your cooperation, Andrey, I really like you in person, too. Because you are very humble guy and nice guy, I always enjoy talking to you.  If there are any upcoming projects, please tell us about it!

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edited by Anthony Heller

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