Russian born Alexandra Callas is the lead supporting actress in the movie 10 Days in a Madhouse, playing the sociopathic nurse Miss Grupe, opposite Caroline Barry in the lead role of Nellie Bly and Christopher Lambert, (Hail, Caesar!, Highlander, Mortal Kombat), as the troubled doctor who runs the asylum, E.C. Dent.
10 Days in a Madhouse is currently playing in select cites and opens in a few days on March 4th at the Laemmle NoHo 7 Movie Theater in North Hollywood, California. Ms. Callas’ performance of the historical character has been critically well received has put her into the conversation for the possibility of a best supporting actress nomination in the 2017 Academy Awards.
Before Ms. Callas began her acting career, in film and television in Russia, she started off in radio and television there as journalist and interviewer. Her father is one of the most famous artist and sculptures of the 20th Century, Lev Kerbel. Her father, Kerbal was very proud of to be Jewish, even if his heritage meant facing prejudice at the time.
Alexandra was taught to stand up for what she believed in and not to supress her dreams. So it should be of no surprise that through hard work and endless determination, Ms. Callas has descended on Hollywood where she now resides, with her magnificent work in 10 Days in a Madhouse as her calling card.
She reflected recently on an encounter with Paul McCartney and how he changed the course of her life forever.
In her own words:
“In Los Angeles, I passed by the Capitol Records building the other day, and thought of The Beatles, of course. How lucky we are to live in the same era with them. It’s hard not to be starstruck by even looking at the building where their legend had started.”
“In 2004 I was living in Moscow, Russia and was a host of a show on one of the top radio-stations, Monte Carlo (102,1 FM). By that time I had an impressive list of artists of all kinds and genres whom I had interviewed throughout my radio/TV career, including Patrick Swayze, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Tyler of Aerosmith, Madonna, REM, LL Cool J, Backstreet Boys and many, many more. Also, having been surrounded by a lot of famous and powerful people ever since I was a little girl, just because of who my dad was, I could hardly be starstruck by anyone, although I have always admired and respected the talent and achievements of the people I’d met.”
“So, once our program director, Ilya Yefimov, called me and told me that I have a very special and delicate ‘mission’. I was intrigued. He said: ‘Well, I know it will be your day off, but you should come to the radio-station. And you will never regret it. Beca-a-a-a-ause…’ I couldn’t hide my impatience: ‘What? WHAT?!’ And then he said: ‘Well, you are the one who was chosen by Sir Paul McCartney’s managers to interview him’.”
“Well. You can imagine. I lost the ability to speak. I couldn’t believe the fact. Of course, I knew that Sir Paul was due to come to Russia with a concert. Oh my God, everyone was talking about that, of course!”
“So, Sir Paul’s managers decided that my credentials were good enough not to make any mistakes during the session. Plus, of course, I was strictly instructed on how to behave and how to talk. There were so many precautions (which, of course, is a necessary norm when, as a journalist, you deal with a legend), that I was scared to death.”
“Plus, everyone who was involved or responsible, warned me, that if I mess up this interview, it will be my responsibility forever, and I will have to find another job. If I can. So I was really scared. I had the nightmares, and, by the day of the interview itself I was overstressed and frightened. And then… the mic was on, and the first thing Sir Paul McCartney said was: ‘Hi, Sasha!’ (which is a short for Alexandra in Russian), and OMG he was so friendly!!!!! I was stunned, starstruck and overwhelmed. He was charming, sincere, respectful, and very, very nice. I mean, one could expect ANYTHING from a star of that stature. You never know. And I was talking to the Music History itself. I wonder what Nellie Bly was feeling when she was interviewing Jules Verne…”
“We had a very good talk – primarily, of course, about Sir Paul’s impressions on Russia, about Russian language, his tour and, of course, about the song, “Back in the USSR”. We laughed a lot, and, instead of the scheduled 10 minutes, talked much more. And he gave me a very simple and yet an extremely important advice, that helped me to develop my decision to change my life completely. I’ve been thinking for weeks about what he said on that day. And then I realized, that I should change it all. It took me some time to do so, but he opened my eyes.”
“So, on that day Sir Paul McCartney, a living legend, said a very simple thing. He said, “I am never too exhausted in spite of being busy all the time. You know, it’s funny, but the secret is – if you are really enjoying what you you do, you’re not going to be stressed or exhausted. Because you love it.” Something like that. He said that all of his life “routine” – live shows, tours, writing songs, charity, studio recording, – is exactly, a hundred percent of what he loves to do.”
“Of course, he admitted that sometimes he is physically tired, like everyone else. But then, he said, he just takes a day off and totally switches. I asked him what advice he would give to someone trying to follow their dreams. He said, ‘Having found the job that you really love helps you to save a lot of energy and avoid the emotional exhaustion and stress. Doing what you love makes you a happy person. I am lucky to have a job that I love’. I began thinking about his words, they touched my heart so deeply. Because I didn’t feel happy, doing my job. I had it all, but never truly enjoyed it, because I always felt it wasn’t what I wanted, as if I was living someone else’s life.”
“Acting was my thing, but I didn’t do it. And Sir Paul McCartney, with those words, suddenly opened my eyes to the truth. And it was a turning point. Although it took me two more years to pluck up courage.”
“But returning to that day… As I said, we talked about many things. He told me some ‘secrets’ of preparing for a big stadium show in comparison to a more intimate, club concert, and how does he choose the songs for each. And then we talked about his and Jeff Dunbar’s cartoons, and the children’s book he wrote, High in the Clouds.”
“Later, I got his book as a present. We talked about his birthday (which is on June, 18th) and his plans for the day. When the interview came to an end, I felt really strange. Like, it was real, but it wasn’t. So, I’m definitely very happy that I worked on radio and TV and met such people. And Sir Paul had helped me make a life changing decision! So I’m so grateful…”
Alexandra landed the top supporting role in !0 Days in a Madhouse, the true story of the mother of investigative journalism who, at 23, feigned insanity to expose corruption and murder in notorious Blackwell’s Insane Asylum.
The movie opens a few days from now, on March 4th at the Laemmle NoHo 7, where you can see Alexandra Callas’ performance of the orpiginal real life nurse that many have said Nurse Ratchet from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was based on.
Loiuse Fletcher played Ratchet in Cuckoo’s Nest, garnering her an Academy Award for best supporting actress. There is a real chance Ms. Callas could repeat history. And we may never have known her had Sir Paul not inspired her that day with his words of encouragement to her.
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