Since moving to the U.S. from Moscow in 1976, Elya Baskin, 46, has carved out a career as the nice Russian in films ranging from "Moscow on the Hudson" alongside Robin Williams, to "2010." Now he gets to play mean as a terrorist pilot, who with Gary Oldman takes on President Harrison Ford in "Air Force One." In real life, though, it's just getting nicer, as he and his wife, Marina, are expecting their first child.

OVERSHADOWED: "Actors and directors are getting tired of having special effects as the biggest star in the movie. Big names like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino play secondary roles to special effects, and that upsets a lot of people who like movies not only as entertainment for kids, like a roller coaster, but stories for grown-ups."

SHOP TALK: "One thing in Los Angeles I can't stand is everywhere you turn, people talk about movies. You go to the cleaners and they talk about movies. You go for a haircut, they talk about movies. Not only with me and people in the film business, but people with each other. No real life. Movies is everything."

CAMARADERIE: "In New York there's always one place the actors hang out, like the Cafe Columbus. In L.A., when I came here it was famous Schwabs, but lately nowhere. It would be great to have a place like that. Sometimes you work with wonderful people and want to be in touch with them, but because of various circumstances you never see them."

MOSCOWWOOD: "Russian cinema is dead. Studios that made 50 films a year now make two. And they all look toward Hollywood--before they even start shooting, they market overseas and aim for getting a [foreign film] Oscar. What people see there now is either pirated A-movies from here, or they just buy B-movies."

MEETING CUTE: "Met my wife at the Moscow Film Festival. She was assigned to me as an interpreter. Why I needed an interpreter nobody knows. But we got married about two years ago."

SETTLING DOWN: "Being a wild guy myself most of my life, I gladly notice the change in me becoming a family man. I never thought about living in the Valley, but I have a townhouse in Santa Monica and now I want a real house with a backyard and a swimming pool and a dog."

HOME COOKING: "There is a Russian restaurant, a nice hole in the wall, on La Brea and Sunset--actually it's Uzbek, called Uzbekistan. Very good food."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World