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Ludmila Savelyeva - Russian Audrey Hepburn

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Ludmila Savelyeva

Lyudmila Savelyeva is a Russian actress and and ballerina known as Natasha Rostova in epic film "War and Peace", a powerful adaptation of the eponymous masterpiece by Leo Tolstoy by director Sergei Bondarchuk.

Ludmila Mikhailovna Savelyeva was born on 24 January 1942, in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). From 1950 to 1962 she studied acting and ballet at the prestigious Vaganovskoe College of Ballet, graduating in 1962 as ballerina. That same year she became member of the Kirov Ballet at Mariinsky Theatre in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). She made her film debut in "Sleeping beauty" (1964). She was making a successful career in ballet when Sergei Bondarchuk's assistant noticed Lyudmila Savelyeva.

Having no experience as an actress she however was invited to Moscow to take part in casting for the film "War and Peace". Savelyeva was screen tested for the role of Natasha Rostova among other Soviet actresses as Anastasiya Vertinskaya, Natalia Fateeva and Natalia Kustinskaya.

"War and Peace" was produced over seven years, from 1961 to 1968. In the beginning her acting career Lyudmila Savelyeva was performing in ballet as well but finally had to leave the theater as it became impossible to combine both acting and dancing.

She was often asked about this choice as Savelyeva's career in ballet was very promising. She always replied that the character of Natasha Rostova became a part of her life and this made her choice.

And finally Savelyeva shot to fame as Natasha Rostova after the film was released. The image of Natasha Rostova became one of most favorite female characters created in Russian cinema.

Ludmila Savelyeva's natural beauty and effortless style won her numerous accolades from international critics. She was chosen by the Soviet Union's communist government to represent the country at various film festivals across the world. In 1969, Savelyeva was sent to the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood to represent "War and Peace" (1967) which won the 1969 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. A few days later, when Savelyeva brought the Oscar back to Moscow, she was met by members of the Soviet government who took the Oscar away from the filmmakers.

After co-starring in a few less successful movies, Savelyeva disappeared from public view during the 90s. She re-emerged after a ten-year hiatus appearing in "Tender Age" (2000) and later appeared in "Anna Karenina" (2009 TV mini-series).

Outside of her acting career, Lyudmila Savelyeva is known as a collector of rare books, having amassed a significant private library. She has been married to fellow actor Aleksandr Zbruyev, and the couple is living in Moscow, Russia.


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