The 2007 Russian film ‘Haute Couture Dress’ has yet to show up on any ‘best of’ lists. In fact, most people have likely never heard of it. But the face of the trim young man playing Tim, a wealthy American who rescues the beautiful Masha from suicide and then falls in love with her, is certainly well-known in Denmark.
It belongs to Stephen Kinnock, the husband of PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
Kinnock and the film’s director, Tatiana Kanayeva, have confirmed that he is indeed the lead male actor in the film.
Kanayeva discovered Kinnock when, in his capacity as head of the British council in St Petersburg, he introduced a theatre director at a festival being held in the city.
“I thought that he looked like a young Tom Hanks,” Kanayeva told Politiken newspaper. “I asked him if he would like to be in a movie, and he agreed to look at the script.”
Kanayeva felt Kinnock did a good job, and that he could have become a strong actor had he chosen to follow that path.
Prior to his involvement in the ‘Haute Couture Dress’, Kinnock’s only acting experience was in a nativity play when he was nine.
Kinnock said that he checked with his wife before taking the role, and she told him to go for it.
“She mercifully does not judge me for my acting skills,” Kinnock told Politiken.
Kinnock explained that taking the role was a spur of the moment decision to do something that “seemed fun and would give me an opportunity to improve my Russian”.
The film has only been shown in one cinema in Russia, apparently to great success. It has also been shown on Russian television and in other eastern European countries.
But Kinnock’s time in Russia wasn’t all fun and potential Oscar bids.
He was head of the British Council in St Petersburg in 2006, when relations between London and Moscow hit a low point following the poisoning of Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko in London.
Russian spies have also been blamed for circulating rumours that Kinnock is gay. Those rumours popped up during the final days of the campaign that saw his wife become Denmark’s first female prime minister, and were viewed as an attempt to derail her bid.
Thorning-Schmidt was forced to address the rumours about her husband’s sexuality after it became apparent they would be made public during an investigation into possible political misdoings during the couple’s 2010 tax audit.