The supremely handsome Russian actor Vyacheslav Tikhonov, who has died aged 81, seemed born to play Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in Sergei Bondarchuk's magnificent War and Peace (1967), in which he carried off the difficult task of gaining sympathy for Tolstoy's melancholy, sardonic, aloof aristocrat.
According to the critic Roger Ebert: "All of the actors look a little larger, nobler and more heroic than life … perhaps Tikhonov comes closest with his chiselled face." The four-part, eight-hour, 70mm, $100m epic was deservedly awarded the Oscar for best foreign language film in 1969, and Tikhonov was feted wherever it was shown.
Before War and Peace, Tikhonov had appeared in a dozen films since his debut in Sergei Gerasimov's The Young Guard (1948), which was among the better socialist realist films of the period. He played a passionate youth, one