You're a champion bodybuilder and accomplished combat artist, what got you into both and what do you think helped contribute to your success? What is your training like now?
I was a very skinny Moscow kid back in the 80's and started boxing after watching Rocky. I was an amateur boxer for several years but switched into bodybuilding because of Arnold in Conan The Destroyer. Bodybuilding was kind of illegal in USSR (it was called 'athletic gymnastic' and there were no official competitions at all at the time). Everything changed in the 90's and in 1993 Russian TV made a documentary about this new sport. I was chosen as a main star because I was 6'6" and 280 pounds already and I had a good story ('from zero to hero'). About 30 million people watched this documentary and suddenly I became famous overnight at just 21 years old. So you can credit classic Hollywood action movies for inspiring me a lot when I was a kid and Black Rose is my tribute to them. I'm still working out at least 5 times a week. I love bodybuilding and really think that I owe my success partly to this sport. My new book called Bodybuilding and Other Secrets of Success, half of it is autobiography and another half is my system of gaining muscles drug-free. It's my tenth book and it will be published in Russia/CIS this summer. I'm thinking about translating it into English as well.
I become household name in Russia in 90s. I had my own TV show, I wrote hundreds of articles and several bestselling books, I was featured in Russian editions of GQ, Playboy, Men's Health, Muscle & Fitness and many others. Everything was great except one thing: movie business in ex-USSR collapsed completely. But I wanted to be in movies. That's why I moved to LA in 1999. I graduated from Moscow State University of Management (this education helped me later when I started to produce) but had to learn English and acting. I joined Lee Strasberg Acting Institute and went to English classes at UCLA Extension. It was tough to study it all at the same time in LA, I should've learn it in Moscow before. I made my brief Hollywood debut in 2001 (Walter Hill's Undisputed) and I did another film in 2002 (Red Serpent, co-starring the legendary Roy Scheider). In 2003 I wrote and produced Moscow Heat (co-starring the great Michael York), this film was a theatrical hit in Russia/CIS and was later sold to 30 countries including North America. Everything was easier after that.
I love that you have so many familiar faces in your films, Michael York, Robert Davi, Adrian Paul, Mattias Hues, a nice mix of acting class and genre faces. How do you go about casting your films? Any titles from the actors mentioned have an impact on your youth?
You're absolutely right, I'm a fan of them all! I love The Three Musketeers movies with Michael York, Highlander TV series with Adrian Paul, Dark Angel/I Come In Peace and some martial arts classics with Matthias Hues, Die Hard and Predator 2 with Robert Davi. Regarding casting decisions: I always have to think how to market a future film and how to sell it. But just wait for Showdown in Manila - you'll see so many action stars, from Casper Van Dien and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa to Mark Dacascos and Don "The Dragon" Wilson!
I'm a big fan of classic 'old school' Hollywood action films. Black Rose was my directorial debut and I decided to mix some of my favorite genres in one movie (action, suspense, horror and even some comedy moments). It wasn't easy and I should thank my Director of photography Rudy Harbon, all cast and crew for the great job and support! I created the original story for Black Rose but the actual script was written by professional and experienced writers Brent Huff and George Saunders. My approach was to make a film that I want to watch myself. I was heavily involved in preproduction, production, postproduction, sales strategies/decisions, etc. and didn't have free time for months. But don't get me wrong - it was still really enjoyable all the way!
Sheldon Lettich Executive Produced Black Rose so you've clearly done your homework, which other filmmakers and actors would you like to work with in the future?
Sheldon Lettich is a great guy and he's very good director, I love his classic films with JCVD (Double Impact especially) and hope we'll make another movie together. I'll be happy to work with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Wesley Snipes. I also would like to make a film with my friend and bodybuilding idol Ralf Moeller (he was great in Gladiator and Conan TV series). By the way, my beautiful Black Rose co-star Kristanna Loken was amazing and very supportive. Me and her should definitely work together again, don't you think?
Keep up with all things Nevsky on his Twitter: @NevskyAlexandr and Instagram: @realalexnevsky