A Brilliant “Madman:” A few words with Ilia Volok

We have learned that DIARY OF A MADMAN will be going off-Broadway for a month at the spacious John Cullum Theater. We’re re-running our interview with film/TV star, Ilia Volok, published last October during its preview run. 

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Diary of a Madman: Ilia Volok‘s stunning journey into the darkness created by Nikolai Gogol now has a home on the stage of the John Cullum Theatre as a LIMITED OFF-BROADWAY ENGAGEMENT

  • John Cullum Theatre
    part of the ATA Theatre Complex
    314 W. 54th Street, NYC

    January 17 — February 11, 2018
    Showtimes: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday @ 8:00 pm
    Matinees: Sunday @ 3:00 p.m. 

    INFO: 646-338-5472 / jmae.events@gmail.com

    Ilia Volok‘s reimagined, one-man show based on Nikolai Gogol‘s dark piece, “DIARY OF A MADMAN,” which won enormous praise during its West Coast tour and garnered great success during its East Coast try-out at New York’s Beckman Theatre that this cutting -edge play will now open 2018 OFF-BROADWAY.


    THE PLOT: Poprishchin, a low-ranking civil servant yearns to be noticed by the beautiful daughter of a senior official, but she never does. Slowly is yearning becomes obsession and then insanity. As his mind unravels, we see unfolding in front of our eyes, a timely parable of class wars, the quest for individuality, and the pervasive indifference for the common person. Acclaimed Russian actor/director, Eugene Lazarev, directs the production.

    Tickets on sale now. Click this LINK

    Ilia Volok, born in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, Ukraine, was a professional athlete on his way to becoming a rowing coach, when he left his native Kiev (Ukraine) to audition for one of the most prestigious acting colleges, the Moscow Art Theatre School. He studied and graduated from there where he took the acting class of Russian actor, Aleksandr Kalyagin. His cinematic debut was in Hail Ceaser, playing opposite Samuel JacksonRobert Downey Jr. and Michael Anthony Hall. He appeared in over 150 films, television shows, and video games, and is particularly known for his work on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).

    Ilia Volok’s life took an unexpected turn.

    download (1)An aspiring athlete and potential rowing coach, he stepped out of the boat and on to the stage.

    He left his native Kiev, Ukraine, to attend the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre School under the direction of one of the most celebrated names of Russian theatre and cinema – Alexander Kalyagin.

    Energized by the encouragement he got from this great master, he left for the United States to become an actor. With $300 in his pocket and NO knowledge of English, he moved to Hollywood.

    Tapping into the same determination he used to become a great athlete, Ilia ended up appearing in more than 100 films and television shows, including Air Force One; Oliver Stone’s U-TurnIndiana Jones 4; David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Soloist; Water for Elephants starring Reese Witherspoon; Mission Impossible-4 with Tom Cruise; Abduction with Alfred Molina, directed by John Singleton; and GI JOE 2 with Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson. TV credits include featured roles on Six Feet Under, Alias, Friends, Las Vegas, Burn Notice Undercovers, Supernatural, Closer, Chaos, and a 37-episode arch as Karpov on General Hospital.

    His ongoing one-man show, Diary of a Madman, written by Nicolai Gogol and directed by Eugene Lazarev, received rave reviews. For more information, visit www.volok-diaryofamadman.weebly.com. Ilia has re-imagined this dark piece to center on the gradual decline into insanity by Poprishchin (ilia Volok), a low-ranking civil servant who yearns to be noticed by the beautiful daughter of a senior official. More than just unrequited love, MADMAN delves into class wars and an everyman’s quest for individuality in an indifferent urban city. Don’t be so quick to think this only happens over there.

    He is more than just a fine performer, he is an inspiring force.  He spoke to Ilia for a few moments regarding the arts in his chosen country.


What attracted you to this concept/play?

img-2468_1_orig The brilliant writing, The depth and the complexity of the material, the nuances, masterfull combination of a realism, specificity, attention to detail and a heightened reality, as well as humor and drama of it.




Did you encounter any opposition in your research (were there any road-blocks due to the material?)

img-2556_1_origThe only road blocks I had is a self doubt- would  I be able to do the Justice to this material? Working on this piece helped me grow and discover new things about myself.




Do you feel an extra sense of responsibility tackling topics like this in art-form?

I feel a big deal of responsibility- no doubt! And at the same time being able to touch the greatness of Nicolai Gogol is a thrilling and unforgettable experience!

Why now?

The story of Poprishin- the main character in the Diary of a Madman- is timeless and Universal- anywhere in the world people can relate to it. It deals with love, desire, obsession,  rejection,broken dreams and hope…

What’s next?

As far as my  theater plans-I have another solo piece that I have done in Los Angeles 2 years ago- “Who killed comrade Rabbit?” which I co-wrote with  Will Manus. I hope to bring that to New York as well in the near future! Overall life of an actor is unpredictable… as of now I’m planning after completing my NY run of Diary of a Madman,to come back to LA where I have been living for the last 27 years. With my friend David Scott we are finishing the post production of our independent Feature Film-comedy “Fakov in America”, which we co-wrote and  where I play the title role.