Hristo Shopov's Biography
Hristo Naumov Shopov, born January 4, 1964, hails from the city of Sofia (Bulgaria).
His family has, over several generations, yielded a veritable dynasty of actors. His father was the famous and well-loved Bulgarian actor Naum Shopov, who starred in countless films and plays. His late mother, Nevena Simeonova, was an actress, and his sister, Liza Shopova, still is. His grandfather set up the Stara Zagora theatre and his grandmother, Mara, also trod the boards. Hristo's wife, Mariana Stanisheva, is both an actress and a casting director.
From such a solid family background in the world of acting and entertainment, Hristo Shopov went on to study drama and performing arts at the prestigious "Krastyo Sarafov" National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts. At the age of only 17, in 1981, he made his cinema debut with Breathe Little Man! , in which his mother co-starred.
So he was still a student when he made his first forays into the world of acting, and his talent was beginning to attract attention through performances at the "Sofia" Theatre and his first cinema roles. The film To the Miss and Her Male Company (1983) gave a taste of the acclaim he would later meet with as a professional actor.
In 1988, while still a fourth-year student, cinema director Ivan Andonov (who he would later work with) picked him from a sizeable selection of young actors to star in a film which went on to attain a cult following in Bulgaria: Yesterday.
In Yesterday, his bold, original interpretation of the young Ivan, a rebellious but noble-hearted student, has become one of the iconic roles of Bulgarian cinematography.
From that moment on, he became one of Bulgaria’s best-known actors and was lucky enough to star in films like Margarit and Margarita, Indian Games, The Love Summer of a Schlep or Eyes Cry Differently, most of which have been a resounding success, attained international awards and been enshrined in the annals of the Balkan country’s cinema history.
During this time, Hristo Shopov continued to build on his solid training as an actor thanks to the painstaking work that characterized his live theatre performances. He was involved, among other works, in plays like Jump into Bed (1992) or Contract (1992), in which his father co-starred.
The decade of the nineties can be seen as a milestone in Hristo Shopov’s career, when he took part, and often played the leading role, in numerous works for film and nationally-produced television (including Circle, The Night of the "Samodivi" or Trafik). Significantly, it was also at this time when he began to make a name for himself alongside other European actors working on international productions (such as Berlin 39, Annata di pregio or Don Quixote Returns).
At first, he appeared only occasionally away from the Bulgarian screens, but at the turn of the twenty-first century he began to star with increasing regularity in American or European films (for example in The Grey Zone, Death, Deceit & Destiny Aboard the Orient Express, Marines, Target of Opportunity or I am David). And remarkably, despite these new demands from abroad, he continued to play in Bulgarian productions, which were always characterized by the incredible versatility of his acting. These films include The Main Things (2001), Follow me (2003), The Glory of Bulgaria (2003) and Christmas is Possible (2001) - for which he received the Union of Bulgarian Artists Award, at the 26th edition of the Zlatna Rakla International Film Festival.
If we had to point to one defining moment which was pivotal in Hristo’s career, it must be when, in 2003, director Mel Gibson gave him the opportunity of a lifetime and chose him to play the part of Pontius Pilate in his well-known film The Passion of The Christ.
That moment launched him from being a well-known actor in Bulgaria whose face rang a few bells in Europe, to a name people would recognize all over the world. His interpretation in The Passion of The Christ of the famous Roman prefect, who was forced to condemn Jesus, was nothing short of masterful. Proof of the stature of this performance can be seen in the awards, such as the Golden Knight Award for Best Actor, which he won at the 2004 Irkutsk Film Festival in Siberia for his role as Pilate.
Now nobody could question Hristo Shopov’s ability to handle whatever role he put his mind to: hero or villain, drama, comedy or action - his success on camera was guaranteed. In recent years, he has also starred in a number of mainly European major productions for TV or cinema, such as Barbarossa; Love.net, the 2011 box office hit which also scooped many awards; Operation "Shmenti Kapeli"; General della Rovere; Barabbas; The Petrov File, etc.
For his performance as Dr. Philip Bogatev in Love.net, Hristo Shopov won the award for Best Actor at the South-East European Film Festival (15.05.2012).
In 2013, he brought great depths of personality to two characters that captivated the viewer of the small screen from the moment they were released: first, that of Pavel Troyanov in Fourth Estate, head of the secret services in a ground-breaking series, full of intrigue, which deals with the complex relationships between the government’s intelligence services, politics and the media. Secondly, in the highly-acclaimed The Tree of Life (which went down so well that a sequel is now in the pipeline), he brings to life the unforgettable Bulgarian Army officer Jordan Velchev, a true patriot and idealist whose life unfolds at a critical time, 1908, when his country gained independence: it is a character which has the audience oozing superlatives.
However, theatre lovers have had to wait until the year 2014 to see Hristo tread the boards on a public stage. In between movie sessions, he returned to the theatre after a long period of absence to play the leading role in Jeremy Bixby’s well-known work The Man from Earth, that of the mysterious university teacher, John Oldman.
Now in 2016, Hristo Shopov is on the other side of the camera for the first time in Stand By, with the aim of directing and producing this film in the form of a documentary. In Stand By, we find a film dedicated to a little known sport known as IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation), in which Hristo, over 30 minutes, introduces the spectator to a shooting practice based on precision, power and speed. In Bulgaria it takes the name of “Dinamichna Strelba”. With this documentary, there’s no doubt that the spectator gets a pretty accurate idea of this sporting practice based on discipline and respect towards firearms, grounded more than anything on safety in gun use, the responsibility of the shooter and dismissing the idea that firearms are associated with aggression.
Also in 2016, the theatre piece Same Time, Next Year, a work written by Bernard Slade that was a huge success on Broadway at the time, makes its debut. In almost two hours, its two protagonists, Hristo Shopov (playing the role of George) and the actress Lilia Maravilia (as Doris) successfully move the public in a captivating spectacle, appealing to feelings like humour, tenderness, irony, rage, and the strength or weakness of the human being.
The applause and kindness of the public in each one of the shows brings the necessary stimulus for the actor to carry out a National Tour that in 2016 comes to 18 Bulgarian cities. This National Tour also incorporates 3 cities to present the work The Man from Earth, with which since 2014 Hristo can be seen on stage in Sofia, as previously indicated.
During 2017, viewers will also have the chance to enjoy Hristo Shopov and his colleagues stepping on the stage live, with the performances of the works Same Time, Next Year and The Man from Earth.
All in all, Hristo Shopov’s 25 years plus in the acting profession have produced over seventy films and, so far, a highly successful professional career, to which can be added his own work for theatre and other cultural events.
It would be downright wrong to claim that an actor’s success depends exclusively on their innate talent and a slice of good luck. Other vital ingredients are needed, such as courage, a fighting spirit, a flair for seizing opportunities, patience, determination in the face of adversity and, last but not least, oodles of perseverance.
Hristo Shopov has been able to combine intelligently all of these elements with his outstanding talent to become, and deservedly so, one of the most prestigious actors working nowadays in Europe.
DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT THE THE MAN FROM EARTH AND SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR NATIONWIDE SCHEDULE FOR 2017 CAN BE FOUND HERE:
- HRISTO SHOPOV - THEATER - NATIONAL TOUR - IN YOUR CITY FOR THE FIRST TIME