Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly Board Laurel and Hardy Biopic
Coogan's Oscar-nominated 'Philomena' co-writer has penned 'Stan & Ollie,' developed by BBC Films.
Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are set to star as iconic funnymen Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, respectively, in a new British biopic.
Stan & Ollie, which is being produced by Fable Pictures and Sonesta Films and developed by BBC Films, is described as an "emotional tribute to two of the funniest men in movie history" and focuses on their real-life tour of the variety halls of the U.K. as aging stars in 1953. The now-famous tour saw the twosome set out "with their golden era as the kings of Hollywood comedy now behind them." Despite initially disappointing attendance, the shows would soon become hits, with Laurel and Hardy reconnecting with fans, old and new, while rediscovering how much they meant to each other as they came to terms with the end of their careers.
Written by Jeff Pope, who reunites with his Philomena co-writer Coogan, Stan & Ollie will be directed by Jon S. Baird, who helmed the 2013 Scottish comedy-crime drama Filth, starring James McAvoy.
"Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are my heroes," said Pope. "When I watch their movies, in my head it is forever a Saturday morning and I am six years old watching the TV at home utterly spellbound."
Pope said that he was aware of the responsibility of bringing the legendary characters to life, but said he hadn't "treated the boys with kids gloves or looked at them through rose colored specs."
Baird added that he grew up watching Laurel and Hardy and was "honored to help bring this incredible true story of love, laughter and friendship to the big screen."
Christine Langan, head of BBC Films, described Reilly and Coogan as a "dream casting" that would help "bring to life with uncanny accuracy and irresistible gusto the genius creative marriage that Jeff Pope's script explores so lovingly."
Stan & Ollie will be produced by Faye Ward — who recently produced Suffragette starring Meryl Streep — for her new Fable Pictures banner, and exec produced by Langan and Nichola Martin for BBC Films, Pope for Sonesta and Gabrielle Tana.
"It is incredibly exciting to be working with such a fantastic and collaborative team," said Ward, who is also a producer on the British royal drama series The Crown, being made by Left Bank Pictures for Netflix. "Steve and John are a dream partnership, and with Jon directing Jeff’s moving and affectionate screenplay, I know this will be a film to treasure for fans both old and new."