French actress/director Fanny Ardant is making an film about Joseph Stalin, and The Hollywood Reporter has announced that the project has found its totalitarian dictator: Gérard Depardieu.
Ardant’s film gets its (working) title from the novel by Jean-Daniel Baltassat, on which it’s based: it’s called Le Divan de Staline, or Stalin’s Sofa, and unfortunately does not follow the leader of the Soviet Union on a long but triumphant search through Crate and Barrel. (However, it is named after a particular Freud-ish sofa, on which Stalin lounges and recites details of his past throughout the book).
The book takes place in the 1950s, and follows the artist who’s creating Stalin’s monument, and his dealings with the KGB. The French official summary of the novel describes the artist character’s experience with insomnia and endless interrogations as he spends time with Stalin and his mistress in the dictator’s palace in Georgia in his final years.
Depardieu notably was recently granted Russian citizenship by Putin after having entered a tax dispute with the French government regarding François Hollande’s supertax on the rich. Depardieu and Putin’s appreciation is mutual and unsettling: according to France 24, Depardieu has been added to a list of people considered “national security threats” to Ukraine, due to his firm support of Putin and assertions that Ukraine is part of Russia. (He’s allegedly been banned from entering Ukraine for five years.)