Actors, actresses, directors & producers of Ukrainian descent

From FB page: News from and about Ukraine in English.


Stallone, Spielberg , thing in common…all of Ukrainian descent

“Finally I’m on a native land”, these are the words said by the holder of two Oscars, film director, screenwriter, and producer Steven Spielberg when he arrived in Ukraine for the first time. The reason is that both filmmakers’ grandfathers lived in Ukraine.

Vera FarmigaActress | Up in the Air

Her parents are Ukrainians. Mother – Lubomyra Spas, father – Mykhailo (Michael) Farmiga. She did not speak English until the age of six because was raised with Ukrainian as her native language. In her teens Vera Farmiga was a member of Ukrainian folk-dancing ensemble “Syzokryli” and also was a member of Plast, the Ukrainian Scouts organization. When Farmiga was twelve years old she began attend Ukrainian Greek Catholic school. Her name in Ukrainian pronounced VEE-ra and is written in Cyrillic “Віра” (it means “faith”).

Jack PalanceActor | Shane

His original name was Volodymyr Palahniuk. The last name Palance was actually a derivative of his original name. In an episode of “What’s My Line?” he described how no one could pronounce Palahniuk and that’s why he decided to just use Palance instead. His parents were Ukrainian immigrants Anna Gramiak and Ivan Palahniuk from Lviv and Ternopil regions. Jack Palance spoke Ukrainian fluently. The Hollywood Trident Foundation was formed in 2001 under Jack Palance’s leadership to facilitate contact among professionals working in the entertainment industry who are interested in Ukrainian affairs. In 2004 Palance rejects Russian award of Russian Film Festival in Hollywood declaring “I’m Ukrainian, not Russian”. He refused to accept the award even in private. Chuck Palahniuk, a novelist, is a distant nephew of the actor.

Katheryn WinnickActress | Vikings

She spoke Ukrainian as her first language and did not begin speaking English until she was eight years old. Katheryn Winnick was attending regularly Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and Ukrainian school at weekends. She also was a member of Plast, the Ukrainian Scouts organization, until the age of 17. Her grandparents from both sides were Ukrainians from Lviv and Ternopil regions. Her birth name – Katerena Anna Vinitska. The word “winnick” pronounced in Ukrainian means “winemaker”.

Milla JovovichActress | Resident Evil: Afterlife

She was born in Kiev, Ukraine. Her Serbian father, Bogdan Jovovich, was a medical doctor in Kiev. There, he met her mother, Galina Loginova, a Russian actress. At the age of 5 Milla emigrated with her parents first to the United Kingdom and then to the United States. In April 1994 Milla Jovovich released her first folk rock album “The Divine Comedy” with a cover version of the Ukrainian folk song “In a Glade” (original title “Oy u hayu pri Dunayu” – in Ukrainian “Ой у гаю при Дунаю”). Slant Magazine said about the album: “The final track, ‘In a Glade’, is a beautiful traditional Ukrainian folk song that Milla sings in her native tongue.” In summer 1994 PAPER (magazine) wrote about Milla Jovovich: “Her Ukrainian heritage is one topic that can transfrom the good-time cool girl into a sentimental innocent exuding neough vulnerability to get you all teary-eyed and sappy.” Personal Quotes: “I am a strong Ukrainian girl, that is why I work a lot.” Jovovich established a charitable foundation in 2005 to help Ukrainian children. In February 2014 during the Ukrainian revolution Milla wrote on her Facebook page: “I wonder what more I can do to help my people struggling in the Ukraine right now… and you better believe I will find out what I can personally do for the victims of the violence in the Ukraine.” And a few days later: “Update on the Ukrainian Protest: “…i know it was highly educational for me to go through these threads to know more about what is happening during this fight for freedom in the Ukraine right now.”

Mike MazurkiActor | It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

He was born Markiyan (Mykhailo) Mazurkevych in Kupchyntsi, Kozova Raion, near what was then Tarnopol, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Ternopil, Ukraine). Mike Mazurki was from an ethnic Ukrainian family. He emigrated with his family to the United States at the age of six. Upon finishing school, he changed his name Markiyan to “Mike”. From school was fond of recitation as in English so in Ukrainian. Mike Mazurki attended Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Vladimir in Los Angeles.

John HodiakActor | Lifeboat

Olga KurylenkoActress | Quantum of Solace

Anna StenActress | Devushka s korobkoy

Mylène DemongeotActress | Les sorcières de Salem

Taissa FarmigaActress | The Final Girls

Matt CzuchryActor | The Resident

Larisa OleynikActress | 10 Things I Hate About You

Lee StrasbergActor | The Godfather: Part II

Sylvester StalloneActor | Rocky

Steven SpielbergProducer | Schindler’s List

Nick AdamsActor | Kaijû daisensô

Vera KholodnayaActress | Zhizn za zhizn

Dustin HoffmanActor | Tootsie

Elisabeth BergnerActress | The Rise of Catherine the Great

Mark IvanirActor | The Good Shepherd

George DzundzaActor | Basic Instinct

Paul MuniActor | Scarface

Hedy LamarrActress | Samson and Delilah

Erika EleniakActress | Under Siege

Anatole LitvakDirector | The Snake Pit

John SpencerActor | The West Wing

Danny KayeSoundtrack | The Danny Kaye Show

Louis B. MayerProducer | The Great Secret

Leonard NimoyActor | Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Zoë WanamakerActress | My Week with Marilyn

David DuchovnyActor | The X Files

Xenia DesniActress | Der Turm des Schweigens

Tatiana MaslanyActress | Perry Mason

Tamara DesniActress | Send for Paul Temple

Bob DylanSoundtrack | Renaldo and Clara

Andy WarholDirector | Chelsea Girls

Edward DmytrykDirector | The Caine Mutiny

Natalie WoodActress | Rebel Without a Cause

Julia DavisWriter | Medal of Honor

Kacey CisykSoundtrack | You Light Up My Life

Chuck PalahniukWriter | Fight Club

Leonardo DiCaprioActor | Inception

Gal GadotActress | Wonder Woman 1984

Mila KunisActress | Black Swan

Lenny KravitzActor | The Hunger Games

Zoë KravitzActress | Mad Max: Fury Road

Stella AdlerActress | Shadow of the Thin Man

Maya DerenDirector | Meshes of the Afternoon

Vadim PerelmanDirector | House of Sand and Fog

Bex Taylor-KlausActress | Voltron: Legendary Defender

Seth RogenProducer | This Is the End


    • The ancestors of these people were driven out by Russian pogroms. Many, like Bob Dylan, came from Odessa.
      Imagine the $billions in taxation that they made for the US.
      I really think that phenomenally rich people like Spielberg, Dylan etc ought to think about making donations to the Ukrainian armed forces. Or if they prefer, to the families of putler’s murder victims.

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