Director Armando Iannucci on ‘The Death of Stalin’

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The new movie ‘The Death of Stalin’ is a political satire that walks a fine line between comedy and tragedy as it follows the chaos in the Kremlin following the sudden passing of the Soviet leader in 1953.

Stalin left no clear succession plan; so once he was gone, a struggle for control ensued.

As portrayed in the film, those competing for power include a hard-drinking Nikita Khrushchev, played by Steve Buscemi; murderous secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria, played by British stage actor Simon Russell Beale, and the easily manipulated Georgy Malenkov, played by Jeffrey Tambor.

‘The Death of Stalin’ was written and directed by our guest today, Armando Iannucci. He’s well-practiced in the art of political satire, having created the British TV show ‘The Thick of It’ and the HBO comedy ‘Veep.’

Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election are a red-hot topic now, but Iannucci said he filmed the movie months before the current occupant of the White House was elected.

Iannucci talks about making a film that’s even more politically relevant than he originally intended, and the challenges of making a comedy about such a grisly period of history. He also tells us about being allowed to go to Moscow for research, only to later have his film banned in Russia.




Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker