“Russian bear” from Hollywood: I could not kick a man lying before me

05 Oct

Lost interview with former UFC champion, Hollywood actor, Oleg Taktarov. The interview was taken in 2009.

Oleg Taktarov is a known figure not only because of his movies, but also thanks to his background as a mixed martial arts fighter. Not too much time passed on, as most started seeing Taktarov as the “luckiest russian in Hollywood”. The words make sense – Taktarov appeared in movies with Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones 4), Robert De Niro (15 minutes), and recently fought off the Predators alongside Adrian Brody in a sci-fi action movie “Predators”.

Taktarov was born in 1967 in Russia. As far as the “fighting records” go – Taktarov was not called a “russian bear” for nothing. He won the “White Dragon” martial arts tournament in 1994 in Riga. 4-times European jiu-jitsu champion. A UFC 6 champion (1995). Taktarov moved to the U.S. in 1994, and married an american of russian descent. He’s also a proud father of 3 sons. Today.Az managed to called Taktarov on his birthday, and the “russian bear” agreed to do the interview over the phone. In an interview, Taktarov spoke about Seagal and Van Damme, his work in Kazakhstan, expressed his views on UFC, and admitted what he couldnt do to his opponent in the ring.

According to IMDB, back in 2006 you finished doing the “Blizhny Boy – Ultimate Fighter” film, where besides you, there were other stars, such as Gary Busey, Eric Roberts, a mixed martial arts champion Cung Le, David Carradine, and even legendary Bolo Yeung. And as of yet, there is no release date on the film. Please tell us how did the shooting of this film went on, who had the biggest impact on you? What should viewers expect, when the film will finally be shown?

Its a good, quality B-movie. Somewhat similar to those, people used to watch in the early 90s, the ones with Van Damme for example. I play a good guy, yet i am not the 1st on the list. I agreed to do the film, because the producer was my friend Eric Ialgashev, one of the new Kazakh producers, who actually made something outside of his own country. Other thing is that in Kazakhstan, even money sometimes can be political, so he cant finish the film, since sometimes “taking money” from the wrong people can cause problems. The film itself is very patriotic, the Kazakh officials made some huge efforts to make finish the film. I am sure fans of the genre will enjoy it, once it comes out.

A lot of people would agree that since you participated in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), lots of things changed. The championship has more “rules” nowadays, and it has lost its touch so to speak. Do you agree with that? How do you, yourself see this sport today?

Well, I can say, that some of the rules that were implemented are good for the show. There are restrictions of course, but the approach changed. Back then, people were only interested in the final, which fighter, which style would win. And now, there are lots of guys, who trained since childhood, and they are mixed martial artists, you cannot just put them into one fighting category. Just like in other sports, here one man is a good grappler, the other one prefers to punch or kick, some stick to wrestling. What I really dont like is that nowadays there are things, that back in the day I could not do for example. I couldn’t kick a man lying before me, with the knees, you know.. It was against my principles. And now, this is a rule, and it was unpleasant to me, since when I was being kicked like that, I couldn’t kick back.

Taking your fighting background into account, were you ever approached to stage fights in movies, work as a fight choreographer?

Well, I wouldn’t mind taking such job, if the film is interesting, not cheap. If someone I know is the director or a producer, i would of course help out, if I am not involved into anything else at the moment. I did that kind of work before.

According to some press reports, in your earlier interviews you used to say that you would be ashamed to star in movies like Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme do nowadays. Back then, you explained that doing something on-screen is one thing, and reality as we all know “bites”.  But all of them action stars did train in martial arts, some even participated in the tournaments. Has your position on this changed since then?

Its not like I would be ashamed, I just think they were doing things that were way ahead of their time. All of this has to be developed. For example, in the past no one had this experience of “mixed martial arts” fighting, no one knew how to do this. If people were not prepared for this, fights in the movies would not have been staged.  Back then it was interesting, and today its not like you can surprise anyone with an old trick. Youngsters have developed, they for example know what a triangle is, they know how to punch and kick correctly, they know that high punches usually are not effective in a fight, and so on.

Many parents agree, that their children should have the right to chose their own future. Would you want your kids to follow your steps, into the martial arts, and then into acting?

Generally, I believe children should have their own choice. As far as parents go, they have to do their best, to give their children the best education they can get. Sometimes a child doesnt even like something he would have been very good at. They have to go through this themselves, and do something that they can rely on in the future.


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Posted by on October 5, 2010 in Cinemania, Interviews


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