An impressive body of work
A Russian bodybuilder and action star scouts Hawaii for his next film
» Russian sees fame building in America
EVERYTHING about Russian bodybuilder and movie star Alexander Nevsky is larger than life. At 6 feet 7 inches, 285 pounds and with 21-inch biceps, he makes no effort to hide in his Hawaiian Legends tank top. He cuts an imposing figure. His deep voice, laced with a strong Russian accent, carries across the hotel lobby. And his charm? Even bigger.
Nevsky, 35, is in Hawaii scouting locations for "Magic Man," a thriller he plans to shoot here in August for a couple of weeks. The independent feature is budgeted for about $6 million, and will be Nevsky's first film shot in America. Specifically, he's looking at various hotels for exterior shots and interior scenes involving a magic show with an audience, similar to a David Copperfield extravaganza. The majority of the movie, however, will be filmed in a Los Angeles studio.
"David Carradine (his co-star in the most recent 'Treasure Raiders') told me I should go and check Hawaii because you can do two things at once: You can shoot and you can rest!" Nevsky recalled. "I didn't take it seriously, but then I realized that you have everything."
Las Vegas had been a contender, but he said, "it's healthier here. ... It's like paradise!"
Nevsky also has paid close attention to Act 88, and noted that the business opportunities make it "interesting to go to Hawaii."
THE ATHLETE, actor, producer and author could be on the verge of fame in America. Nevsky grew up in Moscow -- the son of a professor and an engineer -- a skinny kid who read a lot. In fact, he weighed only 150 pounds.
"I wasn't interested in sport at all; I was reading a lot of books." A fight at 16 prompted him to start boxing and lifting weights. Soon he was Moscow's new boxing champion.
In 1993 a documentary about Nevsky, which he calls "the Russian version of 'Pumping Iron,'" made the 20-year-old an overnight superstar in Russia. In the next few years, his biceps grew to 23.5 inches, he finished his education and began to write books. The Soviet Union was in transition, and "people needed a good role model," he said.
Though he was offered anabolic steroids as a youngster, he understood the harm they could cause. "I never took those pills," he said. "I just threw them away."
Eschewing the fast track for a natural approach, it took him years to form his physique. But along the way he became a vocal opponent of steroid use. He maintains fitness working out almost every day, kickboxing and lifting weights -- often with Lou Ferrigno, star of the old TV series "The Incredible Hulk."
Like another famous bodybuilder who went on to accomplish much more, Nevsky said he "never wanted to be just a bodybuilder."