Alex Ozerov didn’t grow up dreaming of being an actor. He was too busy trying to figure out what language to speak. He spent the first 13 years of his life between Russia with his grandparents, the Ukraine with his dad, and England with his mom.
“It was a dark period of my life. When I was with my mom, I’d be learning English. When I was with my dad, I’d be learning Russian. It was a confusing time for me. Where are my parents? What language do I learn?”
He remembers being popular with kids who were smokers, who would hang around construction sites with bandannas on their heads.
“I’m amazed as to why they even wanted me around, but they did.”
When Alex was 6 years old his parents divorced and at 13, he moved to Toronto, Canada with his mother. Surrounded by a younger half-sister and two stepsisters, he credits the women in his life with making him a man with a strong feminine side. It’s fitting that it’s International Women’s Day when we chat on the phone. I’m at home in Montreal and he’s staying at an Airbnb in LA.
“In Russia, on the 8th of March, all the boys would bring flowers or gifts to all the girls. They taught us early on to celebrate the day of the woman. It’s been a pretty big part of my life.”
What has this feminine influence cultivated in Alex?
“It’s a creative force. I believe that I possess a strong feminine quality. The kind and gentle feminine energy is within me because of my stepsisters, my mom; the closeness I have with them. Whenever I’m out in nature, or gardening, or connected with the earth. The earth is very feminine. It’s why I’m still friends with all of my exes. I can’t just throw them away.”
Alex credits his mother with being the person that got him focused on self-development.
“She used to play self-help tapes in the car. At first, I was indifferent, but then it starts to sink in. I can’t overlook that when things are good in my life, there is always a connection between what I wanted and where I was spiritually.”
His focus has led to a flourishing acting career. A breakout role in the feature film Blackbird in 2012, to a nomination from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television for PYOTR495, to reoccurring roles on Orphan Black, The Americans, Cardinal and a new Netflix project. Starring Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff and Selma Blair, Netflix’s Another Life airs in June.
Alex’s character Oliver is an Aerospace Engineer from Russia.
“I’m very excited! It’s my first Netflix project. Another Life is a sci-fi show set in the near future. An alien artifact lands on earth and nobody knows what it is. A group of scientists try to figure out its origin. Things go haywire. There is drama between the crew. Things malfunction. Russia is under water and there was a massive flood in Saint Petersburg where my character is from, and we’re selected to be a part of this mission to save the earth. The character of Oliver wasn’t originally from Russia when I read for it. He was described as the ‘boy next door’.”
What is the work that he does to keep himself focused? For Alex, writing every morning is necessary.
“Get that fear or problem on paper and it will lose its power. Separate yourself from that problem. This isn’t me, it’s just this thing that’s happening to me. 4-5 times a week I sit down with my cup of coffee. First, I write the date, the time and the location. ‘It’s 7:30 in the morning and my coffee is on a Frida Kahlo coaster.’ I’ll begin that process of writing the things I want to do. Drain it all. Sometimes it’s sentences. Sometimes it’s pages and pages. It definitely helps my mental health.”
He also believes in the power of choosing your thoughts.
“I consciously try to think positive thoughts, positive incantations about my life. ‘I’m in LA, look at these palm tress, imagine, a little boy from Russia, who’d have thought?’ Going to bed, I’ll think, ‘I love this pillow. I love going to sleep. I love getting up early.’ It helps the day. It may seem forced, but it truly does help. It helps anxiety. It helps you to be in the right frame of mind. I think our life is just a collection of days in miniature. If we can make our day the best it can be, then that will lead to a good life. The book “Ask and It Is Given”, was big for me. Knowing that you can actually chose your thoughts. Thoughts aren’t just governing you, you can choose better thoughts. That’s very empowering. If you’re feeling bad, just chose a better thought.”
Alex experimented with his thoughts to access the dark side of his character Jack in Season 3 of Cardinal. (Season 4 is currently in production.)
“Jack is a very troubled character. He is deeply damaged. He’s a stray dog looking for family. He needs to destroy. Trying to find that within myself was very intense. I tried different approaches. I ended up with one that isn’t healthy. I tried to figure out the thought patterns of the character. His self-esteem, his sense of self-worth was so low, that he must have had self-destructive thoughts to be such a menace. It all comes from being damaged. You can’t just play ‘bad’. I have to find what he’s missing. Find empathy. A way to relate. I started to experiment with self-destructive thoughts. The problem with that is that he gets into your head. After a while, I as Alex, started to feel very insecure. I fell into this weird depression because I got so used to beating myself up. It got hard to shed. With acting, I’m still trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”
Alex believes that we can manifest our dreams.
“It’s such an exciting topic! It’s an art form. It all comes down to attitude. Attitude dictates how the world responds back to you. My mom got me into “The Secret”, “The Law of Attraction”, and I became fascinated with this idea that you can change your life by changing your thoughts. You have some control over some things. I think the audio cassettes that were one of the catalysts was “Your Wish is Your Command”. Dream big. I loved “The Alchemist.” It’s a personal development fable about realizing that the treasure was there all along.”
Winning the role of Mischa Semenov on The Americans was a dream come true for Alex.
“I was going to DreamWorks Studios for a screen test for the Americans. It was a dream come true. First of all, I’m in LA, which is already overwhelming, I imagined myself as a small boy in Russia, and then here I am in Stephen Spielberg’s production studio! I was nervous as ever. It was incredible, but I got the role.”
Filming took place in New York.
“For the park bench scene, it was raining and freezing cold. I made my way there and I couldn’t have been more fulfilled because I got to do what I love. I got to work with Frank Langella! He’s quite present. You look into his eyes, he’s absorbing the moment and he’s so generous too. He doesn’t really have to do any work. It comes through him. That’s powerful. That’s something I constantly seek out, that connection, he gives that to you.”
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An absolute honor working with the legendary Frank Langella on last nights ep of @theamericansfx One of my favorite set experiences ever 🙌 Despite the fact that it was pouring rain on location, I couldn't have asked for a better day #blessed 🕵 • • • #actorslife #onset #film #actor #misha #newyork #bronx #franklangella #fxnetwork #gabriel #theamericans
“Working in New York City was just a dream come true. Something I want to have more of. It contributed to the experience. I was in America, filming The Americans, doing my first American show, playing a Russian, the son of a Russian spy, that’s, man, it felt really special.”
Alex loves to travel and to meet new people. His current obsession is coffee. (He loves bullet coffee and is currently into the keto diet). We spoke for an hour and a half, so getting everything in writing is impossible, but I can tell you that he is a warm light. I’m not surprised that kids were attracted to him who were perhaps a little lost. He has the openness to keep searching, and like the women in his life, a heart that inspires.
One of his favorite quotes is by James Allen. “Be not impatient in delays, but wait, as someone who understands, when spirit rises and commands, that gods are ready to obey”. I love that.
Black and white photo of Alex Ozerov by Andy McQueen.