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Duluth native is better known as Russian TV doc

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Duluth native Odin Biron plays a doctor on the Russian sitcom “Interns,” which is described as being based on the American show “Scrubs.” (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)2 / 3
Biron appears in a scene from “Interns,” which airs on Russian prime-time television. (NTV-Kino photo)3 / 3

While the name Odin Biron might not send American pop culturists scrambling to IMDB, it’s got a bit of cred among prime-time television consumers in Russia.

The actor has a starring role on the long-running sitcom “Interns,” which is described as a Russian version of the American medical comedy “Scrubs.”

Biron, who lived in Duluth until he was 15, plays bilingual wannabe doc Phil Richards, who is part of an international exchange program. He’s been on the series, which is one of Russia’s most popular sitcoms, for four years.

“I’ve found a niche no other foreigner has filled,” Biron, 29, said.

Biron was a student at the University of Michigan when he traveled to Russia to work at the Moscow Art Theatre as part of a study abroad program. And when it ended, his professors asked him to stay.

“It was one of these moments that felt like the whole world shut down,” Biron said. “I wasn’t going to be able to turn it down. I had made my decision.”

Leaving Ann Arbor meant dismissing his full-ride scholarship, but Mike Biron said he supported his son.

“I could see it in his face that he was super excited,” Mike Biron said.

Odin Biron joined the cast of “Interns” in the show’s second season. His character is an East Coast-bred American raised by two fathers, and he is one of the interns assigned to work with Bykov, a hard-edged, tough-love doc who loathes Americans. Biron is frequently on the receiving end of his cruelty.

In the most recent season, Phil Richards is working in the urology department.

“Because a ton of jokes can be built around urology,” Biron said.

Episodes air daily during prime-time hours.

Russian humor is different from humor found on American sitcoms, Biron said.

“We have a whole culture of slapstick, which doesn’t exist in Russia,” he said. “Russian jokes are subdued or below the belt or non-(politically correct). Everyone is fair game, to a detriment at times. I would say ‘House’ is the closest to what Russian humor is. Nasty, dark humor.”

Meanwhile, Biron is also a company member of Moscow’s Gogol Center, where he recently played Manilov in a production of “Dead Souls.” The up-and-coming theater’s production was called “another major success” by the Moscow Times.

Biron said he won’t be on the show much longer. He’s asked to be written out of “Interns” in the middle of this year.

“After four years, it’s enough for me,” he said.

He plans to return to Minnesota and study at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis.

“That was my other dream,” he said. “I’ve got the perfect time to do it.”

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