My fellow space cadets, I have a special interview for you today: Alexander Nevsky. If you don’t recognize that name, you will. He is not only an actor, but he has also produced numerous independent films as well directing one: Black Rose. I think the film that’s really going to propel him forward is Showdown in Manila. Showdown in Manila is one of the most anticipated independent action movies of the past several years. In Showdown in Manila, Alexander Nevsky plays Nick Peyton, a former Violent Crimes Unit officer-turned-private eye that is contacted by the wife of a murdered FBI agent. Teaming with Casper Van Dien’s character, Charlie Benz, they start hunting for a criminal known only as The Wraith. Let’s have a chat with Alexander Nevsky!
First of all: Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for us.
It’s my pleasure, Tom! And thank you for the nice review on “Showdown in Manila”, glad you liked our movie!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Where do you come from and how did you get into the film industry?
I was born in Moscow, USSR, watched “Conan the Destroyer” in 1986 and started to dream about movies. I was 14 years old and at the time was very skinny(my height was about 6’4″ but my weight was just about 160 pounds). So I went into boxing gym and later switched to bodybuilding. By 1993 I was 6’6″ and 280 pounds muscleman and Russian TV made me a star of documentary film about bodybuilding. About 30 million people watched it on TV and I become a household name at just 21 years old. Later I had my own successful TV show, wrote several fitness books and graduated from Moscow State University of Management. I moved to LA in 1999, learned English at UCLA and studied acting in Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. I produced and and starred in my first film Moscow Heat in 2003 but my first work as an actor/stuntman in Hollywood was original Undisputed in 2001. Today I’m established movie star in Russia/CIS (my films are always wide theatrical releases there) and I produced 7 successful international action films to date.
How did you come to be a part of Showdown in Manila and what did you find appealing about it?
I’m a big fan of Sly Stallone’s “The Expendables” franchise so I created the story idea for “Showdown in Manila” with Mark Dacasco and Craig Hamann. Later Craig wrote an interesting script and Mark decided to make it his directorial debut. I was glad to get involved as an actor and producer!
Did you find it intimidating to be around some pretty well-known actors and actresses like Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock?
Not at all. I know Don for many years and Cynthia too, they are my role models, I always liked their films! I can say the same about other great action stars: Casper Van Dien, Olivier Gruner, Matthias Hues (he’s a personal friend of mine) and Dacascos himself. It was a big fun to work with them all.
Casper Van Dien played your partner in the film. Were there moments that were improvised or was it all according to script?
Mark introduced my to Casper in 2014 and he liked the project from the beginning. He’s an action star, as I said, and we all love him in Starship Troopers but he is a great actor also (remember Sleepy Hollow?) and he did a very good job in Showdown in Manila. He supported me a lot. We improvised in many scenes and it wasn’t easy for me because English is not my first language. And thanks to Casper we have all this comedic moments in the movie!
Were there any moments in the film that you felt were kind of crazy and hectic or did you roll with it and have a blast?
I did “Black Rose” right before “Showdown in Manila”. “Black Rose” was my directorial debut, I also produced it and was in almost every scene as an actor. That was crazy experience! “Showdown in Manila” was a walk in the park compared to that. Yes, I produced this film and was one of the stars, but it was a dream come true project to me. We had some difficulties every day (as every independent production has), it was very hot in Manila, big snakes were around us in the jungle and so on but I didn’t care much and had a blast anyway.
What was it like working with Mark Dacascos as a director?
Mark is very talented and I liked his vision for the film right away. It was his idea to make in Philippines, it was his idea to add some drama and some comedy. He was very supportive and flexible, he was also working 24/7. “Showdown in Manila” is his directorial debut and I have no doubts that he will direct again very soon.
How was it working in the Philippines? Do you feel it’s better to shoot on location as opposed to a closed set?
Funny thing is, I never been in Asia before. So I liked Philippines a lot: locations are great and people are wonderful. Our local co-producer Chris Santiago and his crew did a great job, we were shooting all around Manila and in the real jungle. Director of photography Rudy Harbon worked with me twice before (on “Treasure Raiders” and “Black Rose”), he shot everything beautifully. We had some closed sets but all the best (and my favorite) scenes were exteriors, especially those chasing scene at the huge fish market in the center of the city and big action scenes in the jungle.
How much training did the film-makers put you through in terms of weapons and hand-to-hand?
Legendary Al Dacascos(Mark’s father) was a fight choreographer and he told me that my character should be just brutal. I’m not a martial artist but I was an amateur boxer and studied kickboxing as a kid also. My weight in “Showdown in Manila” was about 300 pounds of muscles so my fights were violent and effectively short, let me put it that way 😉 Al worked with Cynthia on her fighting scenes in the jungle and I think fans will be happy to see it! Olivier Gruner and Don “The Dragon” Wilson were great too, as well as Matthias and Casper. Regarding rehearsing: when you’re doing an independent film you have to do everything fast and, unfortunately, you don’t have too much time for pre-production and preparation. But we trained all together every morning and everyone was very supportive.
Would you like to work with Casper and Mark in future projects?
Of course! We just had a “Showdown in Manila” premiere in Beverly Hills last week and started to discuss future projects right away. By the way, “Showdown in Manila” was released in the US in limited thaters and on VOD in the end of January. You can find it on all digital platforms and in RedBox, DVD will be out in March (and premiere on Netflix will follow in April). Film was a theatrical success in Russia/CIS and sold pretty much everywhere worldwide already. I should probably get together with Mark and Casper and talk about sequel, don’t you think?
Final question: What do you have coming up that you would love audiences to get excited for?
My new action film “Maximum Impact” is almost finished. It was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die”) and written by Ross LaManna (“Rush Hour”). James Lew (got an Emmy recently for his work on Marvel’s “Luke Cage”) served as a fight choreographer and second unit director. “Maximum Impact” is my biggest film to date, I produced it and starred in with Kelly Hu ,William Baldwin, Tom Arnold, Danny Trejo, Russian actress Maria Bravikova, Eric Roberts, Bai Ling and my friends Matthias Hues and Mark Dacascos. “Maximum Impact” is an action comedy and it should be released worldwide later this year, your readers can get updates on my official Instagram @RealAlexNevsky and Twitter @NevskyAlexandr
Once again, thank you for your time and I hope people will get out to see Showdown in Manila.
Thank you again for all your interest and support!
Again, I would very much like to thank Mr. Nevsky for taking the time to answer some questions and I definitely hope that Showdown In Manila gets some serious attention. As Mr. Nevsky indicated, the film is currently available on most digital platforms and will hit DVD in early March.