Laughter in the auditorium with Lyubo Neikov
One evening he’s the Bulgarian PM, the next one – he’s stalking the royal ducks in Regent’s Park and is chopping their heads in the kitchen of the Bulgarian embassy in London. A typical schizophrenia, to which there’s no cure. Lyubomir Neikov does not even need one, because reincarnations are a second nature for him, and they have put him among the best-liked actors in Bulgaria. He has played dozens of roles, among which the one that’s currently in, of the cook Kosta Banicharov in director Dimitar Mitovski’s movie “Mission London”, shot after Alec Popov’s namesake novel.
“He’s a figure of great importance for Bulgarian literature and dramaturgy. There’s almost no book or film where he wouldn’t transpire in some of the characters. Banicharov is, indeed, an emanation of the Bulgarian national psyche, the historical transmitter of Hitar Petar’s and Bay Ganyo’s genes,” the actor muses. The cook behaves in one way when he makes the decision to lie, when he palters his wife or makes himself more important than he actually is, and quite differently when he sells the ducks to the ambassador and the president’s wife.
“There’s a moment in the movie, however, which is not fun at all. It’s when Chavo chases Banicharov in the embassy’s kitchen, strangles him, and thrashes him a bit. His ire is caused by the compatriot’s betrayal. Chavo’s line is “Why did you do it? From all on Earth, I hate most Bulgarians!” Banicharov hits him back, spits at him, and replies: “I hate them, too!” I got saddened by this scene. Whoever has been abroad – I had the opportunity to travel quite much during the last few years, toured the Bulgarian Diaspora –, and everybody everywhere was telling me “Don’t contact a Bulgarian, he’d either swindle you, or mislead you, or betray you.” This is what the movie shows, it’s like a mirror,” explains Neikov to the media.
In his opinion, the great success of “Mission London” is due to the fact it’s political satire, and Bulgarians like deriding the power brokers. Hollywood star Tomas Arana (Gladiator, The Bodyguard, The Hunt for Red October) and his British colleague Alan Ford (Snatch), both making also the picture’s cast, judge categorically that this kind of satire would equally please the viewers around the world. Whether or not this would happen, we’re going to know very soon. Because this autumn, the film will have its premiere in Good Ol’ England, and U.S. screening is also imminent.
Outside “Mission London”, Neikov is the puppeteer of The Comedians – the Friday’s show of bTV – the television that media mogul Rupert Murdock sold to Ronald Lauder, heir of the Estee Lauder cosmetics empire. The actor is a main figure in The Comedians and he is pulling the strings not only in front of the camera but also behind it. This is because his company, Dream Team Productions, is the show’s producer.
Among figures the show’s featuring frequently is this of Boyko Borissov – Bulgaria’s current PM, Sofia’s ex-Mayor, and ex-Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior. “I’ve put his skin on so often that I don’t know if I’m not Boyko Borissov himself. It comes from inside me,” as Neikov likes mocking his character’s prototype. For now, the original is looking liberally at his imitator and takes on the laughter on his account with a sense of humour.
The actor acknowledges of always putting in his personal attitude towards the characters that he derides, although he’s mindful of not being an arbiter. “Politicians are coming and leaving, and I’d wish that they leave their own good mark in time, not only the fact that I impersonated them,” chuckles he with no superfluous humility.
His way to the lights of the stage starts from the National Academy of Theatrical and Film Arts, which he graduated from in Puppet Theatre Acting. He learned there that “If you go through life like an upset tourist, there’s no way for you to entertain people around you, because you’re insincere. You become hypocritical onstage, and that’s perceived immediately. There are people who want being very hilarious and funny but their mindset is negative genetically. And the others are feeling this. Let alone the youngest ones. I’m saying that from the standpoint of a puppeteer. The hardest is making kids laugh. They instantly sense falsity,” comments Lyubo.
On TV screen, Neikov looks like hyper giddy, yet in real life, he’s surprisingly serious. “I’m concerned with the war on the roads. Lots of casualties, there’s no such thing elsewhere. How could I bee merry with such stats: me too, I’m driving, and I’m witnessing incredible things. Police should be everywhere, uncompromising, and fines should be huge,” thinks Neikov.
– Birth date: February 7, 1972
– Garfield, the thick orange cat from the movie, is speaking with his voice in the Bulgarian dubbing.
– In 2001, jointly with the late director Georgi Stoilov, Neikov founded the Melpomena drama formation. The company toured all Bulgaria with its performances of Golemanov, Vrazhaletz, and January.
– He’s proclaimed Honorary Gypsy by Kavarna’s Roma in homage of his merits for their cultural development. “To me, it’s an honour and a privilege. I’m very happy among them. They are different, fairly educated, and very hard working. They speak several languages; they work in Germany, in Poland. Their neighbourhood being called “Hadji Dimitar”, I dubbed it Beverly Hills long ago. Houses there are astounding – very fine-looking; I couldn’t describe to you what furnishing and what cleanliness is it about inside. There’s a higher standard in communication, a standard as persons. Maybe there are crooks and criminals, but those are isolated cases, and they know them well. This neighbourhood’s inhabitants are the happiest Bulgarians, because they’re the first to see the sunrise.”