Armando Iannucci’s The Death Of Stalin, a feature adaptation of Fabien-Nury’s acclaimed graphic novel that follows the Soviet dictator’s last days and depicts the chaos of the regime following his death in 1953 after 30 years of iron-fisted rule, has started production. Starring Adrian McLoughlin as Stalin, the film has added Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs and Paul Whitehouse to the already announced cast featuring Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Palin, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine and Andrea Riseborough.

Gaumont is handling the French theatrical and video release, along with international sales. It has locked pre-sales with Concorde/Telemunchen in Germany, Madman in Australia, Odeon in Greece, Ascot Elite in Switzerland and Kinoswiat in Poland.

Stalin’s death has been the subject of conjecture — and conspiracy theories — over the years, with some asserting he was poisoned under the orders of KGB chief Lavrenty Beria to prevent the bellicose leader from plunging the country and world into World War III. That Beria, who ranked only behind Stalin in terms of fearsome reputation, was himself executed months later as an agent for Western intelligence agencies, has only added to the mystique surrounding that epochal moment in history.

Iannucci (HBO’s Veep) has written the screenplay with frequent collaborator David Schneider, with Ian Martin (In The Loop, Veep) also doing a polish. Quad’s Laurent Zeitoun, Yann Zenou and Nicolas Duval Adassovsky produce alongside Kevin Loader (The Lady In The Van). Gaumont’s international sales exec Cecile Gaget will oversee the project for the company.