This is a holiday week in Canada and the United States which means some of you who’ve been putting off watching Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga will be streaming it over the next few days. If you’ve been online lately you’ve probably seen all the headlines about it. Sarah’s review was posted here yesterday. As she wrote, “the best thing [Dan Stevens] ever did was leave Downton Abbey”; he almost steals the movie with his portrayal of Alexander Lemtov.
Which is my segue to an email I received yesterday from a site reader called David based in New York City who sent me an interview Dan Stevens did with Uproxx about the movie and how he created his character. If you’ve seen it, you know that Lemtov namechecks George Michael at one point and it’s hard to miss his hairstyle which was 100% inspired by George’s during the Wham era:
Russian George Michael Dan Stevens is definitely my favourite Dan Stevens pic.twitter.com/6dFrR3tLt7— Krystal (@KrystalSim) June 28, 2020
Many are now calling for Dan to play George if there’s ever a biopic. But let’s not move past Lemtov too quickly because while George Michael may have been the inspiration for Alexander Lemtov’s look, turns out Irina Shayk was part of the inspiration for who Lemtov is, as Dan tells Uproxx:
“In terms of his spoken voice, that becomes more from some of the sort of wealthier Europeans that I’ve met over the years. And, in particular, I had an interesting moment with the model Irina Shayk once. I met her in Manhattan and she asked where I live. And at the time I lived in Brooklyn and she said, “Brook-lyn,” and she just had this real kind of disdain for anything that wasn’t within her defined circle of sort of luxury and opulence. And I said, “Well, where do you live?” And she said it like in one phrase. She just said, “West Village, best place.” And I really kind of, I had that phrase in my head a lot for Lemtov. He just thinks that he knows the best things: If they’re covered in gold, whatever you’ve got going on. And there’s a weird kind of snobbery to that mysterious European wealthy elite that I think is just ridiculous and ripe to be poked fun of.”
“West Village, best place.” LOLOLOLOL, can you hear it? I can hear it.
As David wrote to me after sharing this quote, “I don't think what Stevens is doing when relating this anecdote is mocking the accent of someone who speaks English as a second language... It's about noticing the waves of disdain and pride that came through in the way Shayk said those words - and building a character around that. It's a parody of oligarchic wealth -- of people who live within "defined circle of luxury and opulence…"
Dan is specific about the attitude that he’s parodying but, at the same time, Lemtov is not a villain. The character is written and played with a lot of affection. I wonder then, if Irina Shayk ever hears about this, whether or not she’d take it as a compliment. One of the most memorable, even beloved, characters to come out of 2020 so far, and there ain’t much that’s been beloved this year, was inspired by her. I think I’d take it as a compliment.
Yours in gossip,