Tall, instantly identifiable Eastern European actor Elya Baskin fit the bill in Hollywood for ethnic character portrayals, especially characters with a Slavic background and an amiable demeanor; he also frequently exhibited a slightly zany undercurrent that became something of a trademark. A native of Latvia in the former USSR, Baskin attended Moscow's Theatre and Performing Arts College, then built a formidable reputation on the European stage. He achieved his international breakthrough, however, at the hands of Hollywood giant Paul Mazursky, who cast him opposite Robin Williams as the clownish Russian circus performer Anatoly in the masterful seriocomedy Moscow on the Hudson (1984). (When coupled with the sad demeanor that Baskin projected in that role, the actor's birdlike arm-flapping -- a symbol of the character's need for freedom -- became one of the film's most poignant and memorable images). An additional collaboration with Mazursky followed, the 1989 smash Enemies: A Love Story; in the meantime, Baskin began to rack up a litany of roles in additional A-list projects, including 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984), Vice Versa (1988), and Love Affair (1994). The Pickle (1993) re-teamed Baskin and Mazursky for a third occasion; unfortunately, it failed to match the critical or commercial success of its predecessors. Baskin remained in full flower through the end of the following decade, with a memorable comedic turn as Vladimir on the sitcom Mad About You and prominent roles in the big-screen projects Spider-Man 3 and The Dukes (both 2007).