When we wrote the characters for Lunatics!,
we didn’t really give a whole lot of thought to how easy they would be
to cast. It was only after that, that we started to seriously consider
how hard it might be to find someone to play Anya convincingly.
Casting for Anya
In the story, of course, Anya is a native Russian who speaks English very
well. If we cast an American voice-actress who would then play the
character with an accent, it would undoubtedly sound noticeably fake.
Also, if she ever had to speak Russian, it would mean a real loss in
credibility for anyone who understands it.
Anya Titova Farmer is business manager of the ISF lunar colony. She
comes from a long line of Russian entrepreneurs, astronauts, and rocket
engineers. Her father Anatoly Titov and her Uncle Konstantin Titov
manage the Titova Kosmochevski founded by her grandfather Igor Titov.
She received a degree in international business from the Russian Academy
of Economics (RAE) and a Master in Business Administration from the
University of Arizona. She is also founder and part owner of
Серебряная Звезда Спутники (Silver Star Satellites).
Hollywood often doesn’t worry about this. Scarlett Johansson is pretty great in The Avengers,
but the best that can be said about her brief Russian performance at the beginning is that, well, it was
brief. For the rest of the movie, she apparently makes no attempt to do an accent, and I’m guessing that’s probably a good thing.
Since we operate on the Internet, without distribution restrictions, though, we
really should be planning for an international audience — and I’ve seen
enough “American” characters in Japanese anime, voiced by Japanese
actors who can barely speak English to know how jarring that can be.
It’s out of character, and it throws you out of the story.
There’s another problem, too. If we have an American playing the part with a
faked Russian accent, there’s a very good chance it’s going to come off
as nationalist parody. Star Trek did a pretty good thing with Chekov, especially
taking into account the Cold War, but “It vas inwented in Russia” was still a major theme.
Ironically, this is more likely if the person playing the part is not Russian.
Because then they have to act more stereotypically Russian to sell the idea that they are.
Of course, there’s an element of parody to all of the characters in Lunatics!
They have fairly extreme personalities, and we want to play with that.
The fact that Anya is an upper-crust socialite who has opted to live a
very rural lifestyle on the Moon, or the fact that she is aggressive and
rather ruthless in business negotiations — these are material for
jokes. But the fact that she’s Russian isn’t supposed to be.
Rather, it’s an acknowledgment of the very real importance of Russia in the
development of space, and of course, the idea that the International
Space Foundation really is international.
So I worried. But we put out the casting call in the Summer of 2012, and
we did get some responses. Early on, Veronika contacted me by email, and
she sounded pretty enthusiastic about the project — which I treasure,
because a project like this is a lot of effort for not a lot of
immediate reward. So it’s terrific when somebody else is excited about
what you’re attempting, too.
Veronika Kurshinskaya is a film, television and theater
actress born in the Russian city of Yaroslavl. In 2008, she moved to Los
Angeles to pursue her acting career.Since then, Veronika has appeared
in a number of film, television, and theatrical roles. Her interests are
painting, photography and supporting theater and art programs.
Veronika’s career has been highlighted by numerous international
publications such as Komsomolskaya Pravda (Russia), Soul Brazil
(Brazil), LA Splash and Rogue Cinema (USA).
- Fingerprints (2012), “Actress”
- Wal-Bob’s (2012), “Call girl”
- Behind the Scenes (TV series) – Bed & Breakfast (2012), “Bella Black”
- Once Upon a Time in the East: A Fistful of Bullets (short) (2012), “Gavrila”
- Speak Now! (2011), “Chloe”
- 2010: Moby Dick (2010), “Elena”
- The Dazzler (short) (2010), “Gina the Producer”
- Divine Intervention (short) (2010), “Alex”
- The Closer (short) (2009), “Secretary”
We did listen to a number of different people read for the part.
Some were Americans just doing the accent, though a few were also
native Russian speakers. I was a little concerned that Veronika’s voice
might be a little too sweet for the bombastic room-filling personality
of Anya Titova. But of all the people who read, she put the most life
into the character.
Her part in the pilot episode is unfortunately
a bit limited, although she does have a lot more lines in “Earth”
(we’re working on mixing some of those scenes to share with you in a
later update). This clip is from an audition recording, where Anya
is recording a sales pitch for investors.