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Don’t judge ‘Die Hard’s’ Yuliya Snigir at first glance

yuliya-snigir-die-hard-5Russian actress Yuliya Snigir plays a character who’s not what she seems to be in the new action movie “A Good Day to Die Hard.” It’s a perfect fit for the 29-year-old actress because she’s not the kind of person who should be judged on a first glance. That’s easy to do. It’s obvious as soon as I walk into the Four Seasons Hotel room to talk to the raven-haired actress why she was offered a modeling contract when she was young.

But, behind those stunning looks is a woman who was playing chess professionally at 15 and was awarded the title of Candidate of Master by International Chess Federation. She never went after the modeling career but was teaching English in a nursery school when a friend showed her picture to a modeling agency.

“Playing chess was something that my parents wanted more than me,” Snigir says with the slightest of Russian accents. “And, when the modeling offer came, I was more determined to study acting. I did some modeling while I was studying but it was more like a hobby for me.”

Her chess background won’t go to a complete waste. Snigir explains that being able to look at a situation, evaluate it and then react is a lot like directing. She wants to direct and is writing a screenplay that could be her big directing project but she’s not in a rush to move behind the camera. A director, to the actress, needs the maturity that comes with a lot of work experience and for now, she’s concentrating on her acting to build up her experiences.

Snigir believes that life gives us points where we must make decisions as to which path we want to take. Faced with the choice of a life in modeling or chasing her love of acting, she opted to leave the runway behind. It’s a decision Snigir’s never regretted. She’s been a working actress since 2006 but mostly in Russia. “A Good Day to Die Hard” is her big introduction to American film fans.

It’s interesting that the latest “Die Hard” movie is her big debut because she was only 5 years old when the original “Die Hard” was released. It’s a little hard to talk about her character, Irina, without giving away key plot points so we talk about what it was like to work with Willis. The main thing she wanted to know when she first met Willis was how he was able to find the balance between doing serious heroic action movies and comedies.

“There are not so many actors who can do both, who can be so natural in both,” Snigir says.

There’s not a lot of comedy for her to play in “A Good Day to Die Hard” but it’s safe to say that Irina is a very complicated character. That was what made the role so interesting for Snigir.

“Usually, I’m interested in these kind of roles when you can never understand what is black and what is white,” Snigir says. “I don’t like movies when everything is black and white, yes and no, everything is clear. Bad guy. Good guy. It’s not that interesting because in real life, it’s not like that.”

There’s certainly nothing strictly black and white with Snigir.

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