Director Sergei Bondarchuk long doubted which of the actresses to approve for the role of Natasha Rostova in the film "War and Peace". Ballerina Lyudmila Savelyeva seemed to him not the best contender: inexpressive appearance, unsuccessful auditions, lack of experience in filming. But later he did not regret his choice - the whole world fell in love with Lyudmila Savelyeva, she was recognized as the best actress who embodied the image of Natasha Rostova on the screen.
Lyudmila Savelyeva was born in 1942, when the most terrible times came in besieged Leningrad. Childhood was hungry, so that the girl would not die of exhaustion, she had to be fed with carpentry glue. But, despite all the difficulties, from a young age Lyudmila was fond of literature and ballet. She began to study ballet at the age of 11, and in 1962 she graduated from the Leningrad Choreographic School. A. Vaganova. After that she was accepted into the troupe of the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theater. S. Kirov (now - the Mariinsky Theater). She was promised a successful career, she could become a prima, but fate decreed otherwise.
Sergei Bondarchuk could not find an actress for the role of Natasha Rostova for a long time. Anastasia Vertinskaya, Natalya Kustinskaya, Natalya Fateeva, the most beautiful and spectacular Soviet actresses, took part in the tests. Bondarchuk had a prejudice against the "ballet" ones - they rarely made good actresses. When the director's assistant offered to watch Lyudmila Savelyeva, Bondarchuk doubted. Later he admitted: “At first, she was even denied a photo test: she seemed so inexpressive and“not Natasha”outwardly. I took it, in essence, in order to soften the bitterness of refusal."
In makeup, a dress and a wig, the actress transformed - she herself felt like Natasha Rostova. She was all approved for the role, and Bondarchuk did not regret it. Filming lasted 5 years. Savelyeva had to leave ballet and make a choice in favor of cinema. She, too, did not have to regret her choice. The success of War and Peace was overwhelming.
At the Moscow Film Festival, the debutante actress received two awards - for the best debut and the audience award. In America, the film "War and Peace" was waiting for a real triumph - it won an Oscar, in Europe - a number of other film awards. At that time, there was already an American adaptation of L. Tolstoy's novel with Audrey Hepburn in the title role, but the Russian Natasha Rostova managed to outshine her. Lyudmila Savelyeva made the whole world fall in love with herself. She was admired by Federico Fellini and Juliet Mazina, her portrait graced the covers of foreign newspapers and magazines. In Europe, many mothers called their newborn daughters Natasha.
“This role gave me a lot, for the five years while this epoch-making work was being filmed, I got along with my heroine, became very much like her,” Savelieva said. - It was shown in America, and people stood in huge queues to see the Soviet tape. And this despite the fact that a few years earlier Hollywood released his picture."
The film "War and Peace" became fateful for Lyudmila Savelyeva not only in terms of creativity. During filming, she met her future husband, actor Alexander Zbruev. The girl conquered him when he saw her in the form of Natasha Rostova.
The actress, after her successful debut, played many roles in films, but most people still call her the role of Natasha Rostova her calling card and her best work. Lyudmila Savelyeva entered the history of cinema and as one of the most beautiful women, one of 25 Russian theater and film actresses who drove men crazy with just one look
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