Former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens revealed he researched Vladimir Putin’s attitude towards the LGBT community while preparing for his latest role.
The British actor stars alongside Will Ferrell and Pierce Brosnan in Netflix comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.
He plays Alexander Lemtov, a singer from Chechnya struggling with his identity while competing in the famously LGBT-friendly song contest.
Chechnya is a federal republic of the Russian Federation and has been accused of having an appalling human rights record for gay people.
Stevens, who appears on the front of the Attitude Summer issue, said he researched the attitudes of both Russian president Mr Putin and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov while preparing for the film.
He told the magazine: “It’s unbelievable that there are still countries that don’t acknowledge the existence of certain sexualities: it seems mad to me.
“There are artists in so many countries who can’t admit it (being LGBTQ), because they’d be in danger. But the best thing about Eurovision is that it’s a haven and a celebration. It champions (LGBTQ rights).
“That’s why Alexander is king of the castle there, because it’s a safe space. For that night, they are celebrated.”
Stevens added: “Lemtov is from Chechnya. I looked up Kadyrov’s and Putin’s attitude to gay people, and we didn’t want to belittle that danger in any way. We wanted to get it right and hit the right notes.
“After some of the trailers, people wondered if a Russian villain wasn’t very progressive, but I think once people see the film they’ll realise that wasn’t the case.”
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga arrives on Netflix on June 26.