Argentina – to the rhythm of Milonga

Artem Panchik: I was impressed by how Natalia Oreiro kisses!

– I did not know that this is a TV series starring Oreiro. I came as for usual casting, told about myself, what I do. I was asked if I like soccer. I answered, that I play soccer, and very well. Although I still don’t really know what the rules are. I just agreed with everything they asked me. They said, “What languages do you know?” I answered, “Two: Ukrainian and Russian. So they called me a month later and told me they’d approved me for a part in a show with Natalia Oreiro in it. I, to put it mildly, was very surprised. How is it possible, I – Russian, she – Argentine. What does that have to do with me? I think they were mistaken, it can’t be, I didn’t try there. Then it gets worse. It turns out that I’ll go to shoot in Argentina, that I happen to play a soccer player! And I had to speak Spanish and drive a car! And we’re two weeks away from filming.

– And how did you cope with that?

– I went straight out and bought a soccer ball and CDs with recordings of soccer championships. I also bought films by Latin American directors. Studied how Spanish actors act, how they communicate. I sat in front of the TV like a monkey, repeating everything after them, waving my hands.

– I was assigned a teacher, with whom I met every day. We started with the very basics, with phonetics and grammar. But there wasn’t enough time. I was given a text, which kept changing. I was cramming it, and it kept changing, and I had to cram it all over again. Plus I also played soccer. I had a soccer coach, too. He showed me all kinds of tricks, told me how to kick. I started running in the mornings, I needed to gain meat in my legs to somehow resemble an athlete. I watched the soccer players as they walked. You know, they throw their legs forward in such an interesting way. Yeah, I also started going to the tanning salon. I got darker, I let my stubble go, to look older than Oreiro. I got an earring in my ear and I became macho.

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The Argentines taught me how to curse.

– How did Oreiro meet her “husband”?

– We flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina. First meeting with Natalia Oreiro. She comes in, I sit quietly. She looked at me, said something incomprehensible. Some kind of negotiations began. And I don’t understand a word she’s saying. And she’s still chirping so fast! So, that whole evening I sat in silence. And another week of silence. But then I met the makeup artist and costume designers. They began my education. The first thing they taught me was how to swear in Spanish. I shot, they took me with them, taking me to the club or shopping. It was great. I could barely understand what they were saying, but at least I started to communicate.

– So how did you film?

– It was really hard. More than once I wondered why they chose me and not some Argentinean. It would have been easier for Natasha and for everyone. I didn’t understand what she was saying and I didn’t understand what I was saying. One scene was particularly difficult. The script tells me that I was buying a Russian soccer club. But my wife does not want to leave Argentina, we argue. I announce: “If you’re not going with me, stay here, I’ll go alone”, and I leave. I didn’t have time to learn the text. I remember it up to a certain point, and then it was gone. I thought I wouldn’t stop filming, I’d get out of it somehow. And instead of the necessary remarks I start to carry nonsense gibberish in some incomprehensible language. I see, Oreiro’s eyes are five kopecks. She freezes, and I pretend that everything is fine. She quickly realizes it’s not worth stopping. And so we finish the scene – she says her normal lines in Spanish, and I’m full of gibberish. The director, by the way, didn’t understand anything – he’s Russian. The interpreter told him later and I re-translated myself.

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Bed scenes under the blanket.

– Did Oreiro act like a star?

– I was very shy at first. I didn’t know what I could and couldn’t do. I didn’t know where I could touch her, where I could kiss her. But I wouldn’t say she acted like a star. She knows, of course, that she is very much loved in Russia, but she was friendly with me. She, by the way, lost a lot of weight for this show, so she only ate fruits and vegetables on the set.

– Did she feel like she was in your shoes when she came to Russia?

– Oh yes! Especially when she had to speak Russian. True, she didn’t have to speak much, much less than I did.

– Did you have any bed scenes?

– Well, how was Oreiro in bed?

– It’s hard to say, because all those scenes were under the covers. Everything is covered, and there are two talking heads like that.

– Uh, so uninteresting.

– Right. That’s not how I would have shot it. But I was impressed with the way Oreiro kisses.

– What, in a special way?

– Very passionate! There was a scene where we were sitting in a car. We were supposed to kiss. It wasn’t really the first time, we’d kissed her before. I thought this one would be like all the others. But this kiss was something completely unrestrained and wildly passionate! My eyes went like this out of surprise, and they yelled at me, “Start the engine and drive away!” I start up on autopilot and drive away. I look at her sideways, and she’s sitting there like nothing happened, like, yes, I am!

– You asked her, does she kiss everybody like that?

– No, I was in shock and didn’t have time. While I stepped back, the take was over, and she ran off somewhere.

The brother wasn’t confirmed.

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– Why is the series called “In the Rhythm of the Tango” if it’s about soccer?

– We, the main characters, are Argentines and tango is our national dance. According to the plot it happens that Natasha and I break up for a while. And we have to dance the tango with different partners. She danced with Valera Nikolaev and I danced with Olya Pogodina. The dance is very beautiful and difficult. But it wasn’t difficult for me, because my mother gave my brother and me choreography classes as children.

– Did your brother Vladimir ever try out for Rhythm Tango?

– He tried out. But the director chose me.

– Where were you two filmed together?

– Now we play two brothers, Pasha and Petya, together in the TV series “Love as Love”. And in “Goddess” with Renata Litvinova we played the Otherworldly. She is so cool! She saw us, and then it was like this: “What good boys! Oh, how wonderful! All of you will be my Potustronnie. No! You’re gonna be werewolf people!” Very vivid. There’s a warmth and tenderness coming from her, something very good, a cool energy. It makes you want to keep working with people like that.

FROM THE “KP” DOSSIER.

Artem Panchik and his twin brother Vladimir were born in Sevastopol.

Their grandfather was a military conductor, and their grandmother was a writer. Their father was an artist, who kept repeating that the best profession is the creative one. After ninth grade, both brothers were involved in the theater club, and after school went to Moscow and synchronously entered the GITIS. In 2004 they were admitted to the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater.

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