×

PopPolitics: Armando Iannucci on Why ‘The Death of Stalin’ Got Banned in Russia (Listen)

WASHINGTON — Armando Iannucci, the creator of “Veep,” said he is a bit perplexed that his new film, “The Death of Stalin,” was suddenly banned in Russia after initially getting a license.

He holds out one possibility. “There is an election obviously happening,” he tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. Then, in a tone of sarcasm, he says, “We all know how proper it is for another country not to interfere.” The Russian election is on Sunday.

The new movie, now in limited release, is a wicked satire about the final days in 1953 of the Soviet dictator, and the brazen tactics among his inner circle to fill the power vacuum that follows. It mocks the leadership of the Communist era, not the country’s people. Steve Buscemi stars as Nikita Khrushchev, Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria, Adrian McLoughlin as Josef Stalin, Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov, and Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov.

Iannucci says the movie is “not a timepiece. I didn’t do it in Russian accents. I wanted it to feel now, current, immediate. Happening right next to you, rather than a long time ago, far, far away.”

The movie was shot in the summer of 2016, just as Donald Trump was being nominated and stories were beginning to emerge about hacked e-mails and fake news, eventually attributed to Russian interference into the U.S. election. He said Trump’s rise, and some of his own authoritarian pronouncements, “just adds to that sense of relevance,” even though the movie was well underway by the 2016 campaign.

“I had a kind of inner feeling that something strange was happening in democracy anyway,” he says. “We think that because we have democracy, we are perfect and it is permanent, and it’s not. Strange things have been happening all across the world with authority figures, nationalist movements, right-wing movements, populist movements, electorates deciding to become unpredictable. So actually that is the reason I wanted to make the film.”

He still thinks that Russians will see the movie, citing a poll that showed that 60% of the audience there still wanted to watch it. “It isn’t 1953. Things that get banned can still get seen. There are ways,” he said.

Listen below:

PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs from 2-3 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.

More Politics

  • Robert Mueller Report

    Robert Mueller Agrees To Publicly Testify to Congress

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on July 17, the committee chairmen announced on Tuesday. Mueller has resisted testifying, saying the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference and obstruction ought to speak for itself. In a public statement on May 29, he said that any [...]

  • BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 22:

    Quality Control's Coach K Says Abortion Ban Has Already Impacted Business in Atlanta

    A who’s who of black entertainment and tech filled the Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom on June 22 for the 4th annual Culture Creators Innovators and Leaders Awards brunch. Honorees included Byron Allen, who received the Icon Award; actress and executive producer Marsai Martin, who was named Innovator of the Year; and Quality Control Music founders [...]

  • Wyclef Jeans Warns Democrats: 'Trump Can

    Wyclef Jean Warns Democrats: 'Trump Can be Re-Elected'

    Wyclef Jean, the actor and rapper who performed the 2016 song “If I Was President,” is no stranger to politics, after trying to run for president of his native Haiti in 2010. At Cannes Lions, the annual advertising conference in the South of France, Jean talked about the future of music but his conversation with [...]

  • Hope Hicks

    Hope Hicks Refused to Answer Committee's Questions 155 Times

    Fox communications chief Hope Hicks refused to answer questions from the House Judiciary Committee on 155 separate occasions during closed-door testimony, the committee chairman said Thursday. The committee released a transcript of the hearing on Thursday afternoon. Prior to the hearing, President Trump directed Hicks not to answer questions about her service as a senior [...]

  • Hope Hicks

    Hope Hicks Gives Closed-Door Interview on Mueller Probe

    Hope Hicks appeared at the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning to give closed-door testimony on her involvement in the special counsel investigation of President Trump. The Fox communications chief was subpoenaed in May to provide documents and testimony that would aid in the committee’s investigation into obstruction of justice. After extensive negotiation, Hicks agreed [...]

  • Prince Mohammed bin Salman Abdulaziz al

    Saudi Crown Prince Should Be Investigated Over Khashoggi Killing, U.N. Report Says

    Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, should be investigated in connection with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi because of “credible evidence” that the prince is among those liable for the dissident journalist’s death, a United Nations report said Wednesday. While no “smoking gun” has yet been found that directly incriminates the prince [...]

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders Jemele Hill

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Leave the White House

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving her position at the end of the month, President Donald Trump said Thursday. In two tweets, Trump announced Sanders’ departure for her home state of Arkansas before thanking her for “a job well done.” He also recommended her for the Arkansas governor position, writing, “She is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content