Filth director Jon S Baird is to take on a biopic of screen double-act Laurel and Hardy as his next project, it has been confirmed.
Speaking to Scotland on Sunday before the Scottish Bafta award ceremony, Baird said: “It’s really a love story between two guys who come to realise they can’t live without each other. It’s a really, really beautiful tale … It also tells the story of their off-screen personas, which were quite different to what people would imagine knowing their on-screen ones.”
Stan Laurel and Oliver “Babe” Hardy briefly shared the screen in 1921 in a short called The Lucky Dog, but as featured players they came together in 1927, when they were both working for the Hal Roach Studios. Their onscreen chemistry was immediately apparent, and they embarked on a string of films that spanned both the silent and the sound era.
Baird’s film, currently titled Stan and Ollie, will focus on their farewell tour of the UK in 1953-54; their film career was, to all intents, over by that point (their last film Utopia, aka Atoll K, was shot in 1951, though not released in the UK until 1953, and the US in 1954). Philomena co-writer Jeff Pope is providing the script.
Baird also said: “Stan was very much the driving force, Ollie was more relaxed, he just loved golfing and betting on the horses. Once he’d finish for the day, he’d be off, and though he would be consulted on the script ideas when they were rehearsing, he didn’t write the stuff, Stan wrote everything, I think he was a real 𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕥𝕦𝕣𝕖𝕕 genius.”
Presumably Laurel’s Scottish connections – though born in England, he moved as a schoolboy to Glasgow and made his first professional stage appearance in the city –were also of interest to Baird. The director’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Filth was nominated for three Scottish Baftas, with James McAvoy triumphing in the best film actor category, in his role as 𝕔𝕠𝕣𝕣𝕦𝕡𝕥 cop Bruce Robertson.