Anastasia Baranova: A Russian Warrior
Anastasia Baranova Brings Talent and Power to Syfy’s "Z Nation"
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Do you think speaking with an accent could help your career?
I feel like there are a lot of different cultures portrayed not in a favorable light by the American media, and I believe that Russia—for various reasons—falls under that category. I definitely have been selective about the Russian parts I play. They tend to be roles like a Russian sex trafficker or a stripper. We’re not all prostitutes!
Then, there have been a few things where being Russian has been like a good thing because it makes me different and unique, but it’s been something that I’ve had to balance in a way and almost work against how Hollywood tries to portray [Russians] now.
Did you find a technique to help you prepare for your auditions? What techniques can you share for future artists who want to hone their craft?
I just read as much information as I can, if the script is available or the sides. At this point it’s pretty instinctual. It seems as if I am reading something, then I’m seeing it; I am seeing whether I make sense to play this person or not.
I worked in casting for a while. I interned with a really incredible set of casting directors and learned so much about how casting really comes together. As an actor, it was information that wasn’t privy to me. You realize that you can do this role, [that] I have the emotional capacity to do whatever this character calls for––I can live authentically and truthfully in this moment, therefore I can play the character.
As you get each script, what are the things you look for that help you play Addy on Z Nation with increasing depth?
The cool thing about Addy right from the beginning is she’s been the one who cares. From the jump she cared enough about herself and Mack [Thompson, Addy’s boyfriend,] to survive. She cared once she understood who [former convict Alvin Bernard] Murphy is and what that could mean for the future of Earth and humanity.
This season, there are definitely a lot of things for her to care about and the biggest one is Lucy—Murphy’s daughter—who she and Doc go looking for in the middle of the season.
They’ll spend the rest of the show tracking her down while all sorts of apocalyptic things are happening, and Murphy is off being Murphy (laughter). With each script I was always looking for what it is she cares about right now, particularly in regards to Lucy. The only reason I think you give so much of yourself towards anything is if you know the value, you know that it matters.
How well do you collaborate with the directors?
We are super fortunate with this show. Our showrunner Karl Schaefer has always been very open about the fact that [he] created these characters and gave them mental fallback, but [the actors] came in and really made these people people and gave them life. We’ve always had an incredible amount of room to adjust dialogue, wardrobe and makeup. [With] where the characters are going, it really has been a co-creation.
Do you prefer comedy or more serious roles?
I love… getting to be deep and emotional with somebody. There really is nothing like being with another actor who is fully committed, fully grounded, fully present—really in something with you.
Comedy still has that instant gratification of somebody laughing and having a pleasant little moment because of something I did. It’s affecting someone instantly, and I did my job.
“I know what I’m capable of; I am a soldier now, a warrior. I am someone to fear, not hunt.” -Pittacus Lore, The Rise of Nine. How does this quote apply to you?
It’s beautiful. I think if you’re lucky everyone has one defining moment in their life, or a string of them. The world isn’t something I have to fight or get through. This world is really mine, and I can make whatever I want out of it. I certainly have had moments like that in my life, and that’s a perfect way to describe it.
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