He’s set to play the fictional Russian pop superstar Alexander Lemtov in Netflix’s upcoming movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga. And now, in an interview with Attitude magazine, actor Dan Stevens has revealed some more details about his character, including a “big secret”.
Dan Stevens plays a closeted Russian popstar in Netflix’s Eurovision movie
In much of the promotional material released so far, it is clear that Stevens will be the antagonist to Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams’ Icelandic underdogs. But Lemtov will have more layers than the one-dimensional baddie we saw in the trailer.
Stevens tells Attitude that the character has a big secret — he’s LGBTQ. This is significant given that Alexander is from Russia, specifically Chechnya.
The former Downton Abbey star elaborates.
“He’s the anti-hero. He’s an obstacle for Lars (Ferrell). Lars wants to be Lemtov and there’s tremendous jealousy and he worries he’s going to steal Sigrit (McAdams)…
It was more interesting, though, that he wasn’t there to woo her. He has his issues with his identity and what he’s able to admit to”.
While the Netflix Eurovision movie looks set to spoof the sillier aspects of the song contest, Dan is also aware of Eurovision’s cultural and societal importance. He describes it as a “competition that champions diversity across a continent where huge disparities remain when it comes to LGBTQ acceptance”.
“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.”
LGBTQ rights in Russia
Dan doesn’t disclose whether Lemtov is gay, bisexual or falls somewhere else on the LGBTQ spectrum. He does, however, touch upon the situation for LGTBQ people in Russia and Chechnya.
“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”.
Russia has had a gay propaganda law in place since 2013. It is designed to “protect” children from being exposed to homosexuality. In Chechnya, a federal subject of the Russian Federation, there was an “anti-gay purge” in 2017. Police are reported to have rounded up and tortured groups of men suspected of being gay.
Will you watch Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga when it is released on Netflix on Friday 26 June? Let us know in the comments.