A Gentleman in Moscow: Is Marina Samarova Based on a Real Maid?

Image Credit: Jason Bell/Paramount+ With Showtime

In Showtime’s ‘A Gentleman in Moscow,’ Russia goes through a political upheaval as the aristocracy is rooted out, and the Bolshevik revolution upends everything for them. The protagonist of the story, Count Alexander Rostov, is also a part of the nobility, which makes his fate quite uncertain as he sees executions of his peers happening around the country. Luckily for him, things go comparatively well. Instead of getting a bullet in his brain, he is put on permanent house arrest and is forced to live in a hotel for the rest of his life.

Trying to keep things on a bright note, the Count decides to befriend the people at the hotel, one of whom is Marina Samarova, who works at the Metropol. Considering that the hotel is a real place, one might wonder if Marina is based on a real person who was employed there.

The Fictional Marina Acts as a Pillar of Support to Count Rostov

In the fictional world of ‘A Gentleman in Moscow,’ the historical signposts and the location of the story are the only things that have been borrowed from reality. Everything else, including all the characters, is fictional, like the character of Marina Samarova. She was conceived by Amor Towles, who authored the book on which the Showtime series is based. Because the story takes place almost entirely at the Metropol, he knew that it would be impossible to tell the story without counting on the machinery of the place: its staff. Through Count Rostov, we meet all sorts of people in the hotel. While some are friendly towards him, some are either cautious of or outright villainous towards him. Marina falls in the category of the people who become the Count’s friends.

The idea for the story came to Towles during his own stay in hotels while working his previous job, which he left to pursue writing full-time. For someone who is a regular to a place, the staff becomes a group of familiar faces and adds an increased sense of comfort for the guest. For someone like Count Rostov, who spends decades in the Metropol, the staff becomes his family, the only one he can have since he is not allowed to leave the hotel anymore. This is where characters like Marina come in.

Played by Leah Harvey (‘Foundation’), Marina is a maid and a seamstress at the Metropol. The Count sees her for the first time while exploring the hotel with his new friend, a 9-year-old Nina. At first, their paths don’t cross as often, but with time, they become acquainted with each other, and this marks the beginning of their lifelong friendship. For the Count, Marina becomes not only a trusted confidant but also someone he can rely on to advise him, especially when it comes to handling children with whom he has no experience. Marina educates the Count on a number of things, and her invariable presence at the hotel makes her a dear friend to him.

The Count’s deep friendship with Marina makes her one of the most important characters in the story, as there are times when, without her, he would be completely lost. Harvey and Ewan McGregor (who plays Rostov) bring forth chemistry between them with an ease that convinces the audience of the familiarity and trust between the characters. The characterization of Marina, with some brilliant writing on the show and the commendable performance from Harvey, make her a realistic and sometimes relatable character, even though she is fictional.

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