Jellied Fish Fails American Casting of “Irony of Fate”

This is what the new Zhenya Lukashin and Nadya look likePhoto: Marius Weisberg

If a year ago we were asked to introduce Ippolit walking the streets of Boston, Zhenya Lukashin with an iPhone and Nadya Sheveleva in a haute couture dress, many would twist their fingers at their temples. A Soviet comedy in an American bourgeois way – fantastic! But it is this fantasy that is now being filmed in the United States by the Russian director Marius Weisberg. And this is not a pseudo-comedy or a Hollywood caricature, but a script for the play “The Irony of Fate” by Eldar Ryazanov adapted for the Western audience.

Now the shooting of the film has already come to an end and the film is about to be released worldwide. The director of the film shared with KP about whether there will be a jellied fish in the film, why Ippolit will beat Zhenya Lukashin, and why the American “Irony of Fate” is being watched by Julia Roberts herself.


Americans, who used to be proud of their buildings, eventually followed our past path. They began to build up blocks of the same type of houses, naming the streets in small towns in the same way. This is what prompted Marius Weisberg to remove the imported version of Ryazanov’s masterpiece.

Barbara Brylska was replaced by Emma RobertsPhoto: Marius Weisberg

Barbara Brylska was replaced by Emma RobertsPhoto: Marius Weisberg

The hero of Andrey Myagkov finds himself in the suburbs of Boston. In the American version, he is played by 30-year-old actor Thomas Mann, who starred in the films Amityville Horror: The Awakening, Kong: Skull Island and the TV series Fargo. As in the original, Zhenya Lukashin from abroad goes to the bathhouse with friends on New Year’s Eve (as it turned out, people in the USA also like to steam up). True, instead of an airplane, friends put him in a taxi. And then – the already known story: instead of his hometown, a man ends up in an unfamiliar locality. He enters the apartment, goes to bed. This is where Emma Roberts comes in …

And all that will happen next is an attempt to combine the Soviet and the American. This is where the main difficulties arose. To adapt a Soviet film, which they even wanted to ban because of a hint of “drunkenness propaganda,” the director had to turn it upside down and resort to American tricks. Introduce … Asians and African Americans into the story! That is why Ippolita is played by the star of “Mortal Kombat” Lewis Tan, and Lia Akhedzhakova is played by a dark-skinned actress.

Lewis Tan (Hippolyte), directed by Marius Weisberg, Thomas Mann (Lukashin) and Emma Roberts (Nadya Sheveleva)

Lewis Tan (Hippolyte), directed by Marius Weisberg, Thomas Mann (Lukashin) and Emma Roberts (Nadya Sheveleva)

– In the American adaptation, the mothers and fathers of the main characters are involved, everything revolves around the sister’s wedding, there is a whole family intrigue, – Weisberg shares. – Emma Roberts breaks up with her boyfriend on the eve of this event, and passes off her Zhenya Lukashin for the conditional Hippolytus, going with him to the celebration. Everyone falls in love with the main character and thinks that he is Hippolytus. The story is spinning. This is not a thriller, but the intrigue is strong there. The same friend of Nadia is a black actress with an English accent Fikile Mktvalo, she is so Akhedzhakova in American style – very bright and funny. I found her in New York at the Broadway theater.


At the beginning of filming, Marius Weisberg admitted that he was thinking about how to play the episode with the jellied fish, beloved by the Russian audience. In American realities, it turned out to be impossible to do this, because people in the West would faint upon seeing an outlandish Russian dish. In general, the American version of “Irony” was left without a “zest”, or rather, without his “jellied meat” …

– Well, there is no jellied fish here in the USA! – the director smiles. – And American women do not cook in that amount. But, I think, I will still make a refrain for the Russian audience. In the scene with the wedding, when I will dub the film, I will wink kindly to our audience.

Hippolyte is not the same

Hippolyte is not the same


Also, as the director admitted, the film set could not bear watching the Soviet film itself. This is what the difference in mentality means!

“You see, the original“ Irony of Fate ”is a three-hour film in Russian, also with our songs,” Weisberg throws up his hands. “It’s very hard for Americans to watch this. I tried to show the film to the writer – she just couldn’t stand it. All the subtleties of dialogues, not to mention poetry, are elusive. At some point, it all becomes an Indian musical for them.


The director also had to sacrifice the aristocratic restraint of Barbara Brylska. As Weisberg explains, women in America don’t act like that. So the drawn-out “I like that you are not sick with me” from Julia Roberts’s niece should not be expected. The actress simply will not be able to reproduce Pugacheva.

“Emma Roberts is a completely different character,” the director admits. – She’s also amazing, charming, hypnotic. But with a completely different charisma, she is American, she has more lively facial expressions, she is more active, more modern. But at the same time with traditional feminine values. And it is precisely with her femininity and softness that she still resembles such retro actresses like Brylska.

This is how Zhenya Lukashin has changedPhoto: Kinopoisk

This is how Zhenya Lukashin has changedPhoto: Kinopoisk

Thomas Mann, on the other hand, had to pull down his hair and put on glasses to get away from the image of the cheeky teenager from Project X: Got Broken. So he vaguely resembles the intellectual Andrei Myagkov. True, if in Ryazanov’s comedy Zhenya Lukashin and Ippolit behaved diplomatically in a Soviet way, then in the American version they will not hold back their emotions.

– The fight between Ippolit and Zhenya Lukashin will be a comedy one, it will take place at a wedding, – Weisberg shares. – The main character pretended to be Hippolytus, and when the real Hippolytus came, the storm began. During the scuffle, the main character, after being hit by Hippolytus, will fly off and lose his balance. But he will make a leap so as not to hurt the wedding cake. Jump like an athlete with a pole! We filmed this scene, by the way, for the longest time, since the cake was unique and in a single copy. And the whole group, with bated breath, watched as the take from the take Thomas jumped at the cake. They even bet money – whether he will crash into him or not. But in the end everything went well.

Akhedzhakova was replaced by an African American Photo: screen

Akhedzhakova was replaced by an African American Photo: screen


One detail should nevertheless unite the Soviet and American versions of The Irony of Fate. In Leningrad, during the filming, it did not snow, so Ryazanov had to resort to an artificial one. Weisberg did shoot the picture in the summer, so he used the same techniques.

“It seems to me that what is unique about this project is that the things that seemed to us very Soviet in the original story, they, paradoxically, turned out to be very American,” Weisberg is convinced. – All these new buildings of the same type that we had are now in America. This social surveillance is now working in the United States.

Now Weisberg hopes that in the West his film will become as iconic as Ryazanov’s picture for Russia.

The heroine of Liya Akhedzhakova will become an African American Photo: still from the film

The heroine of Liya Akhedzhakova will become an African American Photo: still from the film

“The USA has several of its own holiday films,” the director reflects. – It seems to me that The Irony of Fate also has a chance to become one of such iconic films that the West will watch on Christmas and New Years.

Weisberg is confident that the film will resonate with young people in Russia.

“The film will be released on Valentine’s Day or next New Year,” the director admits. – Emma will invite her aunt Julia Roberts to its premiere. Emma herself plans to come to Russia at the start of the rental in order to present the picture here. We have high expectations. The representatives of the company that sells our content have already watched the draft of the film, and they had the most encouraging impressions. I finish the painting in January, and in February we will present it to the market. And, of course, I will do my best for the film to be shown in cinemas in Russia.


The first footage from the filming of the American version of “The Irony of Fate”

The director showed how Nadya Sheveleva will look in a Hollywood way (details)

“Irony of Fate” – 45 years old !: The fish was still not disgusting, or how the kissing scenes of Barbara Brylskaya and Andrey Myagkov were filmed

“Komsomolskaya Pravda”, together with Andrey Myagkov, Lia Akhedzhakova and the operator of the picture, recalls how the main New Year’s tape was filmed (details)



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