With The Death of Stalin, there was that, but it was a different period as well. So it was really talking to people about things that happened 50 or 60 years ago. But also I think the comedy in Veep is really about getting through the day, and if they make a mistake it's embarrassing, but they still are alive. In this film, if they don't get through the day it's because they're dead. Suddenly, that shift transforms everything. It's a different type of comedy. It's a comedy about trying to survive and trying to use your wits to just avoid the worst. So we found that the writing of it felt different. The research felt similar, but the actual writing of it and the performing of it was a different thing entirely.
How did the writing feel different?
Iannucci: Really the aim I think was to try as much as possible to recreate in the audience that sense of low-level anxiety that everyone in the Soviet Union must have felt at the time. That's all about setting things up, suggesting things but never quite seeing them or seeing them in the distance. Or surprising people. Comedy helps because comedy's all about anticipation and build up and expectation and then subverting expectation. The rhythm of comedy is not that different from the rhythm of horror in a way. If you look at Get Out, fantastic film, it's interesting that the writer and director of that has come from a comedy background. He has an instinct for how you can lead people down a path and then surprise them or you can set expectations up one way and then completely subvert them.