To prepare for the role, Duvall watched numerous hours of newsreels, read many books about Stalin, and spoke to Russians who remembered him. He said that playing Stalin was the most challenging role of his career.

The first American film to be premiered in Moscow.

The film was premiered in Russia on the 75th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Robert Duvall and Maximilian Schell; and three Oscar nominees: Joan Plowright, Frank Finlay, and Daniel Massey.