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.

Popular on Variety

More Politics

  • Elijah Cummings dead

    Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings Dies at 68

    Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings, a prominent civil rights activist, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and key figure in President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry, died on Thursday from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” according to a statement issued by his office. He was 68. Cummings has been a representative of Maryland’s 7th [...]

  • U.K. and E.U. Strike New Brexit

    U.K., E.U. Strike New Brexit Deal, but It Faces Tough Sell in Parliament

    The U.K. has reached a last-minute Brexit deal with the European Union, but faces a major challenge getting it approved by lawmakers in Parliament. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control,” and called on lawmakers to back the deal when it’s put before Parliament on Saturday. [...]

  • Donald Trump

    Twitter Explains What It Would Take for Trump’s Account or Tweets to Be Deleted

    Twitter grants special exemptions to Donald Trump and other “world leaders” from its code of conduct, including from rules that apply to everyone else. But the social network — which is Trump’s go-to megaphone — says nobody is “above our policies entirely.” Critics including presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris have blasted Twitter for failing to [...]

  • Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker,

    Democrats Debate: Elizabeth Warren Calls for Breakup of Tech Companies

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for the breakup of big tech companies on Tuesday night, as the candidates debated the size and influence of the technology sector in society. “I’m not willing to give up and let a handful of monopolists dominate our economy and our democracy,” Warren said, citing Amazon as a company that controls [...]

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren,

    Democratic Debate: Elizabeth Warren Takes Fire From Moderates

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren came under fire from her more moderate opponents in Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, who challenged her plan for “Medicare for all” and her wealth tax proposal. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke took on Warren more forcefully than they have in previous debates. Buttigieg called her out [...]

  • Elizabeth Warren

    Elizabeth Warren's Fundraising Approach Worries Some Donors

    Elizabeth Warren raised nearly $25 million last quarter, and she did it without ever once setting foot in a fancy living room in Bel Air or Brentwood. Last week, she announced that if she is the Democratic nominee, she will continue to avoid high-dollar fundraisers in the general election. And on Tuesday, she went further, [...]

  • LeBron James

    LeBron James Wades Into NBA Controversy Even as China Resumes Streaming Games

    Basketball superstar LeBron James has added fuel to the fire of the controversy engulfing the NBA over its self-censorship in line with China’s political interests — just as China appeared poised to quietly move toward defusing the issue with a resumption of online streaming for most games after a ban last week. James was criticized Tuesday for appearing to toe Beijing’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content