Tag Archives: david mccallum

Ilya Kuryakin: Precursor to Lucas North? Maybe . . .


Robert Vaughan as Napoleon Solo and David McCallum as Ilya Kuryakin.

The soulful stare of Ilya. This is the poster my oldest sister kept on her bedroom wall. My visiting grandmother refused to undress in front of it.

A screencap of David McCallum in the opening credits of The Man from UNCLE.

Blame this post on kathryngaul, who mentioned posters of hot fellows in a recent blog comment, which led me to a memory of my oldest sister’s crush on a 60’s TV star (who currently appears on NCIS). Back in the day, he was the young co-star on the Cold War spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I looked up information on Wikipedia about this star and hey, presto! A post was brewing in my head. Because I saw certain similarities between this blonde spy of 40 years ago and a dark-haired spy of more recent vintage–not a physical resemblance, but the personality and character. I share some details of the enigmatic Ilya and a few photos from Google images for your consideration . . .

Scots actor David McCallum played the tantalizingly mysterious,introverted spy Ilya Kuryakin, who was assumed to be Russian, possibly married (he wore a wedding ring in some episodes)–but no one was ever quite sure about this riddle of a man. Which only made him more fascinating, of course.

Ilya was initially supposed to be a minor, peripheral character. It was after an acute reaction to penicillin landed him in the hospital for a few days during early filming that McCallum received the opportunity to flesh out Kuryakin.

His approach was to build a character based on ambiguity and enigma, with more hidden about his character and personality than was revealed. McCallum commented, “No one knows what Ilya Kuryakin does when he goes home at night.”
Kuryakin is a polymath who is self-contained, taciturn, intellectual, pragmatic, athletic and capable of showing immense charm with a flair for the dramatic which aids him in numerous undercover operations. He is also quite ruthless when necessary.

There are rare occasions that indicate a more passionate and sensitive nature lies beneath the cool exterior. Oh, he also looks really good in black turtlenecks.

So, I wonder–has Richard ever seen re-runs of this old spy series? Did the Spooks writers?

It’s fun to speculate.

Oh, and there was an Ilya Kuryakin action figure (which looked suspiciously like G.I. Joe with yellow hair). We have Little Guy–but wouldn’t it be fun to have a Lucas action figure, completely with washable tattoos we could have fun applying . . . ;)=