The October 11th, 2018
Hi Irena, first, I'm very glad to do this interview about you.
- Thank you for contacting me.
What did you like about the storyline and your role in Johnny English Strikes Again?
- I have to begin by saying that I have two children who are the biggest fans of Rowan Atkinson and his work, so when I was confirmed for the role I instantly
received a lot of “Cool Mum" points from my kids. Mr Atkinson is a master of physical comedy, so it was a huge privilege to watch him “in action”. Ben Miller is also great talent and is genuinely
funny, on and off camera.
The film is packed with great one-liners. Our scene at the Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc is one of the highlights in the movie, in my opinion.
How was the filming of Johnny English Strikes Again ?
- As you would expect, it was a lot of fun and an endless supply of jokes on and
off set. We were filming our scene in two parts - on location in Antibes and at the Shepperton studio for all the special effects.
The location was absolutely breathtaking, especially at the sunset. It is located close to the Botanical Garden. You can get an idea of the scale and grandeur from some of the drone and helicopter shots in the movie.
You begin by music ".......She left home to continue with her studies when she was only 14 years old. Despite her young age, Irena was offered a place at the
State Higher College of Music in Nikolaev,
Ukraine - an institution with excellent standards and high in demand.
Each year they would only accept 6 pupils per class, so the competition was fierce....." "......After graduating the Academy of Music with distinction,......." When and why did you choose to be an actress?
- I could say this runs in my family. I am a performer, same as my mother and my father. Performing is something I have aways loved and wanted to
do since I remember myself.
My brother and I were always involved in some sort of DIY production or a play as kids, even if sometimes there were only the two of us involved. I remember once, when I was 10 or 11 years old,
I came up with this idea of putting together a stage play. I engaged a couple of friends from our school, together we designed the costumes. I was, of course, the Director and Executive Producer (I had a vey vague idea of what that meant but liked the sound of it).
I was taking charge of organising and putting all the elements together. Then, my brother and I set off to look for the right location.
We lived in an apartment block close to a field, where we found an abandoned shed. I think it used to be a makeshift toilet or something like that. We spent a whole week fixing it, paining the walls, waterproofing the roof, putting locks on the door, the whole thing.
The day before it was all ready to be used by us, someone set fire to it… This kind of setback would put anyone off. Not me. I continued coming up with more and more ideas similar to that.
I originally moved to London to pursuit a career in music.
I signed a record deal, released my debut album. I started taking modelling jobs as a way to support myself - this was a great way of managing my spare time and concentrating on the things I really wanted to do. Modelling and TV experience lead to serious acting work.
You are model too '....Since launching her very successful modelling career, Irena was photographed by Paul Wetherell, David Eustace, Ian Derry, Dirk Rees, Robert Wyatt and became the face of Holland & Holland gun makers, Cleave Jewellery, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson cosmetic companies......Did it help you for the cinema?
- Yes, definitely. Understanding the lighting and the space in front of
a camera is a huge help. All that came from years of modelling.
What role would you like to play and what kind of film?
- Well… Let’s say, if someone offered me a role of a Russian Bond girl,
I would definitely consider it!
What is your next challenge?
- As Leo Tolstoy once said “True life is lived when tiny changes occur”.
I try to take each day as an opportunity to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone.
I always keep my mind open - professionally and personally - and welcome any challenge that come my way, as this is an opportunity to learn things I didn’t know before.
You are born in Crimea (Ukraine). The Crimea is Russian now.
What do you think?
- I think that there is a lot of people with a lot opinions and limited factual information, so I would prefer not to join the masses here.
However, when I am regularly asked a question whether I consider myself as a Ukrainian or a Russian, I remind them, that by default I have been
a citizen of three countries.
I was born a Soviet child; my mother tongue was Russian; I then lived in Ukraine (Odessa and Mykolaiv) for nearly eleven years; I was educated by the Ukrainian and Russian teachers; my Dad is originally from Siberia, my Mother
is a native Crimean.
All my best university friends are Jewish and I have now been living in London since 2002. I speak Russian to my children, cook Ukrainian Borsch, Russian blinis and Jewish chicken soup at home, I also consider London my home.
The point I am trying to make here is that you should find your identity and the sense of belonging from the inside, not from the outside.
Then you will never feel lost or confused about your nationality or ethnic background, you will always have your family with you.
As far as the political and geographical borders are concerned, history shows that those have always been fluid, claimed, reclaimed, renamed, etc.
Do you wish to add something?
- Thank you for your time and questions. You called me Irina at the beginning
of the interview. Although, Irina is the common version of my name,
I kept the name my father gave me Irena [Ee:rena].
When I was little, at home I was always singing, performing or dancing,
so my Dad jokingly used to call me Irena Hollywood when he saw me “in action”.