Up until 2017 Kirill Zaitsev was primarily known as a stage actor. That changed when he landed the lead role in the Russian blockbuster film Three Seconds (2017), directed by Anton Megerdichev . Kirill played Sergey Belov, who was the star player on the 1972 Soviet Olympic basketball team that defeated the USA. The movie grossed 50mm USD (the biggest grossing movie in Russia), and made Kirill famous in Russia as well as recognized as a lead actor who can not only carry a show on the stage but also on the big screen.
Kirill, the oldest of two children, his younger sister is Valentina Zaitseva, was born in Volgograd, Russia, to a professional sports family. Both his parents finished from the sports academy. His father was a professional in the hammer throw, while his mother was a professional shot-putter. As a child, Kirill was a very inquisitive and passionate child. From a young age he actively participated in competitive swimming, as well as track & field, dancing and basketball. In addition to being very athletic, Kirill showed a high interest in and talent for music. Throughout his childhood Kirill studied guitar at a professional music school. He would eventually graduate from that school before going on to university. However, it wasn’t athletics or music that truly piqued Kirill’s interest, it was the “Navigation Club” that he was a part of in school that gave him the passion for the sea and the desire to become a merchant marine profession.
In 2005, Kirill decided to study at the Admiral Makarov State Maritime Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. During his studies and time at sea, he traveled to more than 20 countries. It was this education and experience that allowed him to participate in world-renowned regattas in the Mediterranean and the North Sea, on the 100-meter tall ship Mir. Kirill also gained extensive experience working on oil tankers that were located on the shores of America and Canada. It was during this period in his life that he intensively and extensively studied and practiced English. Upon graduation from the academy in 2011, Kirill decided to move to Riga, Latvia.
Upon arriving to Riga, Kirill immediately started looking for a job outside of his profession as a merchant marine. After a year in Riga without any serious work, he came across an ad for actors from the Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theater. It was then that he knew what he wanted to do with his life and he immediately applied and was accepted to the Latvian Academy of Culture where he studied acting under Igor Konyaev and Elena Chernaya of the Riga Russian Theater. It wasn’t long after he began his studies that he started receiving roles at the theatre. Some of his earliest roles, which were shown on the main stage of the theatre, included plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Dostoevsky. During his last year of studies at the academy he received his first offer to appear in a movie, the feature film Melanijas hronika (2016), directed by Viesturs Kairiss.
Over the years, Kirill has been a stable face at the Riga Russian Theater, however, that changed after the success of the film Three Seconds (2017). Shortly after Three Seconds (2017), Kirill decided to move to Moscow and immediately he started being recognized for his talent and getting offers for lead roles. Since his permanent move to Moscow in early 2018, Kirill has appeared in the historical drama Trotsky (2017), which won The Association of Film and Television Producers in Russia award in multiple categories, Gogol’ (2017), Gogol. A Terrible Vengeance (2018) (Gogol’ (2017), became the first TV-show in the world screened in cinemas. It won first prize at the festival of the Indie Gathering International Film Festival and was awarded the «Award of Excellence» category at the Accolade Global Film Competition.)
Coming up for Kirill in 2018-2019, his COP television show will premiere. He plays the lead role of John Mackenzie, a New York cop, who comes to Russia, on an exchange program, to share his experience and knowledge on fighting crime. Also, in 2019 the highly anticipated second season of Godunov will kick off. Here Kirill also landed one of the main roles that of Archer Nechay – the stereotypical Russian rebel during the Time of Troubles in Russia (1598-1613)