When you live in the public eye, everything you say gets noticed. Even an offhand comment can have literally global repercussions. When you’re Leonardo DiCaprio you just can’t really say anything without having an impact someplace. A couple weeks ago DiCaprio said there should be more films that deal with Russian history and now Russian communists are vowing to blockade a russian movie studio if it goes ahead with a plan to cast the actor as Lenin.
Two weeks ago, the Oscar nominated DiCaprio spoke with a German publication about his interest in playing Russian President Vladimir Putin in a movie. He then expanded his comments to include interest in playing Rasputin as well as Russian Communist Party founder Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin. This comment led to a St. Petersburg film studio, with the intriguing name of Lenfilm, to offer DiCaprio that very role. Now, the Telegraph reports that St. Petersburg’s Communist Party has vowed to blockade Lenfilm unless the role of Lenin is played by a Russian.
To be clear, St. Petersburg’s Communist Party is actually a splinter group of the national organization, so this protest is not coming from all Russian communists, just a few. Also, it should be noted that Leonardo DiCaprio had a Russian grandmother, so he’s not not Russian, though apparently not enough for this organization.
What’s crazy is how much this has snowballed. When Leonardo DiCaprio made his comments he was speaking generally, about the lack of movies based on Russian history, and how that should change because there are some great stories to be told. There’s no plan, that we know of to currently make films about any of these people. The actor was speaking theoretically. Even with the Lenfilm offer, it doesn’t appear that the studio has been working on a Lenin film, they simply want DiCaprio to play the part. Instead it seems to be much more a situation where the studio will plan to make the movie if the actor jumps on board.
It’s easy to view the offer as simply a publicity stunt, and that’s likely part of it, but at the same time it appears to be a serious move. The studio recently received $75 million in investment from China and is looking to increase their position on the global cinema stage so they can likely pay Leonardo DiCaprio a salary he’d expect if the movie moved forward. The studio was used to film a couple of major films in the mid 1990’s, like Tilda Swinton’s Orlando, but they haven’t done much since then.
Protests notwithstanding, would you be interested in a Leonardo DiCaprio-led film about the life of Lenin? Let us know your thoughts.