The educational project “Personalities of the Russian Community Abroad. 1920-1945”

Mikhail Chekhov

Mikhail Chekhov

Mikhail Chekhov

(1891 – 1955)


He was the creator of the acting theory and founder of the American Acting School in Hollywood. He was born in 1891 and was a nephew of Anton Chekhov. In 1907 he entered the St. Petersburg Theatre School of The Maly Theatre.  In 1912 the man was invited by Stanislavsky to join the Moscow Art Theatre where he played Khlestakov at the famous production of “The Government Inspector”. It is Mikhail Chekhov who is considered to be one of the best actors for this character in the history of the Russian theatre. 

In 1928, as the actor could not accept the revolutionary changes, he made a decision not to come back after his tour in Germany. Since 1939 he lived in the USA.

In Hollywood Mikhail Chekhov had roles in ten movies and wrote “On the Technique of Acting”, the book that became one of the major books on acting in the XX century. That is how “The Chekhov’s System” was established (along with “The Stanislavsky’s System”). In Hollywood Mikhail established an acting school called Actors Laboratories. The school was very popular in the acting world and was considered “the factory for theatre talents”. Out of more than 300 nominees for an Oscar ever awarded, 165 actors were students of Chekhov or “graduates” of his school.  For instance, Chekhov was the one who helped reveal the acting talent of Marilyn Monroe.

Many Hollywood celebrities of today, such as Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino and Robert de Niro, call Chekhov their teacher.


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