Vsevolod Safonov was born in Moscow on April 9, 1926. In 1949, he graduated from the Boris Shchukin Theater Institute in Moscow, the legendary drama school founded in 1914 as part of the Vaktangov Theater. After graduating he performed briefly at the Kamerny Theater, which was closed when Soviet officials complained about the formalistic and experimental character of their performances. He also performed at the Mayakovsky Theater in Moscow, before joining the theater of the Soviet troops in Potsdam, East Germany, in 1952.
In the mid 1950s, Safonov joined a theater studio for cinema actors in Moscow and worked for different Soviet state film studios, including Lenfilm, Mosfilm, Dovzhenko and Gorky. He is credited with having acted in almost 70 television and film productions. One of his first leading film roles was in Aleksandr Ivanov’s 1956 WWII-movie Soldaty. He appeared in many award-winning films, including Osenniye Svadby (dir. Boris Yashin)—which was awarded the Silver Leopard at the 1968 Locarno Film Festival—and Optimisticheskaya tragediya (1963, dir. Samson Samsanov), which was nominated for the 1963 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The latter was one of the first Soviet 70mm films (Sovscope70). He also starred in the 70mm production Zakon Antarktidy (1966, dir. Timofei Levschuk).
In addition to his work in the USSR, Safonov starred in several films produced for East German cinema and television, including in the leading role of officer Leonov in Fünf Tage, fünf Nächte. He worked with East German directors Heiner Carow (Die Russen kommen), Horst Seemann (Liebeserklärung an G.T.), and Joachim Kunert (Das Verhör, TV). One of his last films was Back to the U.S.S.R. (dir. Deran Sarafin), a 1992 American thriller set during Gorbatchov’s Perestroika and filmed in Moscow.
Vsevolod Safonov was married to the actress Elza Lezhdey (Ballad of a Soldier, 1959; Pavel Kochagin, 1957). He died in Moscow on July 6, 1992.
|1992||Back to the U.S.S.R.|
|1983||Anna Pavlova (Pavlova: A Woman for All Time)|
|1980||Larets Marij Medichi (The Casket of Maria Medici)|
|1977||Das Verhör (The Investigation, TV)|
|1976||Byt bratom (To Be a Brother, TV)|
|1976||Zhizn I smert Ferdinanda Lyusa (Life and Death of Ferdinand Lues, TV series)|
|1971||Liebeserklärung an G.T. (Declaration of Love to G.T.)|
|1971||Belorusskiy vokzal (The Belorussian Station)|
|1968||Osenniye Svadby (Autumn Weddings)|
|1968/87||Die Russen kommen (The Russians Are Coming)|
|1967||Serdtse materi (A Mother’s Heart)|
|1966||Zakon Antarktidy (The Law of the Antarctic)|
|1965||Giperboloid inzhenera Garina (The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin)|
|1963||Optimisticheskaya tragediya (Optimistic Tragedy)|
|1960||Fünf Tage, Fünf Nächte (Five Days, Five Nights)|