Russian actress Irina Apeksimova, sometimes credited as Irina Apeximova, has appeared in many films, television projects and on stage. She made her American film debut with Phillip Noyce's box office hit “The Saint” (1997), starring Val Kilmer. Other film credits include “Dissident” (1988), “Limita” (1994), “Red Serpent” (2002), “Kniga masterov” (2009) and “Burnt by the Sun 2” (2010). A former student of the Moscow Art Theater School, Apeksimova has worked with the Odessa Opera Theater and the Moscow Art Theater. Her theater credits include “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Richard III,” “Uncle Vanya,” “Boris Godunov,” “Woe from Wit,” “The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore” and “A Midsummer Night's Dream.”
Moscow Art Theater School
Childhood and Family:
Irina Apeksimova was born on January 13, 1966, in Volgograd, Russia, to classical musicians Victor Nikolaevich Apeksimova and Svetlana Yakivna Apeksimova. She is the younger sister of jazz composer and pianist Valery. She was introduced to the theater and music early by her parents. Her parents divorced when she was in the eighth grade and she went on to live with her mother in Odessa. It was there that she trained as an actor.
After high school graduation, Irina applied at the Moscow Art Theater School in Moscow, but was unsuccessful because her Odessa accent. Returning to Odessa, she joined the Odessa Opera Theater and spent a year dancing ballet before making her second attempt to enter the Moscow Art Theater School. She was again rejected. She returned to Volgograd and joined the Theater of Musical Comedy. After a year, she applied for a third time to the Moscow Art Theater School and was eventually admitted in 1986. She completed her education in 1990 and would work with the Moscow Art Theater until 2000.
Irina and actor Valeri Nikolayev (born on August 23, 1965), whom she met at the Moscow Art Theater School, divorced in 2001. The marriage produced one child, a daughter named Dasha.
Stage & Screen
Irina Apeksimova has been very active in theater in Russia, where she appeared in such stage productions as “The Most Important Thing,” “Blessed Island,” “Pearl Zinaida,” “Unexpected Joy,” “Dancing to the Sound of Rain,” “Skylark,” “Crazy Jourdain,” “Zatovarennaya's Barrels,” “Armchair,” “Uncle Vanya,” and “Boris Godunov,” to name a few productions. In addition, she worked with director Brian Coxi in the plays “Seylemskie Witch,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Richard III.” She made her film debut in “Bashnya,” a 1987 drama directed by Viktor Tregubovich that was written by Aleksandr Aleksandrov and starred Olga Ostroumova, Vadim Lobanov and Georgi Burkov. The next year, she was cast in Valeriu Jereghi's drama “Dissident,” starring Yevgeni Dvorzhetsky. After appearing on the small screen in 1992 in the series “Melochi zhizni,” Apeksimova resumed her film career in “Bezdna, krug sedmoy,” opposite Andrei Sokolov and Aleksey Guskov. The same year, she also costarred with Wilson Buyaya in “October,” a short film by Abderrahmane Sissako.
In 1994, Apeksimova was cast in the Denis Yevstigneyev directed drama “Limita.” It won a Blue Sail Award at the 1994 San Raphael Russian Cinema Festival, a Best Actor Award at the 1994 Sochi Open Russian Film Festival, an European Jury Award for Feature Film at the 1995 Angers European First Film Festival, an International Jury Prize and Youth Jury Award at the 1995 Geneva Film Festival, and Nika Awards for Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Composer. 1995 found her portraying roles in “Shirli-Myrli,” a comedy co-written and directed by Vladimir Menshov, “Odinokiy igrok,” an action film starring Valeri Nikolayev, Andrei Sokolov and Olga Mashnaya, and the short film “Muzhskiye otkroveniya.”
Apeksimova, however, did not make her Hollywood debut until she was cast as Frankie in “The Saint” (1997), a movie starring Val Kilmer and Elizabeth Shue that was directed by Philip Noyce. The film earned primarily negative reviews from critics but was a commercial success. The next year, she starred as Justine in the Russian drama “Mu Mu,” which was nominated for the Best Film Award for Best Full-Length Fiction Film at the 1998 Molodist International Film Festival and a Golden Pyramid at the 1998 Cairo International Film Festival. She returned to television with work in the series “Samozvantsy.”
After working for a number of years at the Moscow Art Theater, Apeksimova quit in 2000. The same year, she portrayed Olga in the film “Vmesto menya,” opposite Oleg Strizhenov and Sergey Bezrukov, costarred in the TV miniseries “Den rozhdeniya Burzhuya” and appeared as Dora Brilliant in an episode of the TV miniseries “Imperiya pod udarom.” She then costarred with Marina Aleksandrova and Aleksandr Zbruyev in the romantic film “Severnoye siyaniye” (2001), was cast in the English language movie “Red Serpent” (2002), which was directed by Gino Tanasescu and starred Michael Paré, Roy Scheider and Oleg Taktarov, and worked with Tatyana Dogileva and Aleksandr Kalyagin in the comedy “Bulvarnyy pereplyot” (2003). Also in 2003, she played the role of Nastya in the TV series “Kletka.”
In 2005, Apeksimova portrayed Anna in the television miniseries “Esenin,” which starred Sergey Bezrukov, Sean Young and Gary Busey. She remained on the small screen for the shows “Schastye po retseptu” (as Zoya) and “Palach” (as Olga Dragomirova, both 2006).
After disappearing from the scene for three years, Apeksimova resurfaced on the big screen playing Kamennaya Knyazhna in the family film “Kniga masterov” (2009), which was co-scripted and directed by Vadim Sokolovsky. The film starred Mariya Andreeva, Maksim Loktionov and Liya Akhedzhakova. In 2010, she appeared in “Burnt by the Sun 2,” an epic movie about WWII that was a sequel to 1994's “Burnt by the Sun.”