Russia’s Communists threaten to blockade studios if Leonardo DiCaprio plays Lenin
Leonardo DiCaprio’s potential role as Lenin has angered Communists in St Petersburg
US actor Leonardo Di Caprio (L) and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924) better known as Lenin
US actor Leonardo Di Caprio (L) and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924) better known as Lenin Photo: EPA/AFP
Harriet Alexander By Harriet Alexander, New York4:53PM GMT 28 Jan 2016Follow
Communists in Russia have said they will blockade the country’s oldest film studios if it goes ahead with its plan to cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Lenin.
DiCaprio, whose maternal grandmother was Russian, and who bears a striking childhood resemblance to the Russian leader, spoke last week of his fascination with the country’s history and figures.
“I think there should be more films about Russian history because it has many stories worthy of Shakespeare,” he told German newspaper Die Welt. “That is fascinating for an actor. Putin would be very, very, very interesting. I would like to play him.
“Lenin also would be an interesting role. I would like also to star as Rasputin.”
A St Petersburg state-owned film studio, Lenfilm, immediately offered the 41-year-old Oscar favourite the role.
Pope Francis meets with actor Leonardo Di Caprio
Pope Francis meets with actor Leonardo Di Caprio Photo: AP
But St Petersburg’s Communist Party – a splinter group, separate from the main parliamentary Communist Party of the Russian Federation – reacted with fury, and said they would disrupt filming unless a Russian actor took the lead.
“We have sent a letter to Lenfilm and told them that such move would provoke protest actions,” said Sergey Malinkovich, one of the party’s leaders.
“We would launch the civil disobedience actions near Lenfilm entrance, we simply would not let them enter it.
“They should find a Russian actor.”
Mr Malinkovich is known for his vociferous, but largely unheeded, protests.
In 2008 he wrote an open letter to Olga Kurylenko, the Ukrainian-born model who played a Bolivian agent in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, accusing her of betraying her roots.
“In the name of all communists we appeal to you, prodigal daughter of poor Ukraine and deserter of Slavic world.
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924) better known as Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924) better known as Lenin Photo: AFP
“The Soviet Union gave you free education, free medical care but nobody knew you would commit an act of intellectual and moral betrayal and become a movie girl of Bond, who in his movies kills hundreds of Soviet people and citizens of other socialist countries.”
Other publicity stunts have included proposing banning selfie sticks at street celebrations on Victory Day, banning American athletes from participating in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and a plea to the Central Bank to restrict sales of foreign currency to citizens.
DiCaprio is yet to accept the role. But Lenfilm, founded in 1914, is known to be keen on expansion, eyeing last year a $75 million (£52 million) cash injection from Chinese investors, which it hopes to use to build a huge “cinema city” and new studios.
In its heyday the studio attracted Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda and Ava Gardner. In recent years the studios have dropped off the radar somewhat, although Orlando was partly filmed here with Tilda Swinton, and the 1996 version of Anna Karenina, starring Sean Bean and Sophie Marceau, was shot on site.
And Russian film industry figures were excited at the proposal.
“DiCaprio is a good artist,” said Vladimir Bortko, a Russian film director, screenwriter and producer. “He can play whatever he wants to play. I would have him with pleasure if he invited me as a director.”
A Lenfilm spokesman said he hoped the project would go ahead – despite the Communist Party’s objections.
“It is always interesting to make movies,” said Valeriy Karlov.
“Leonardo DiCaprio is often compared to Lenin in his youth. We have enough scenery and props to recreate the era of the revolution.”
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