LONDON — Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly are set to play Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in Jon S. Baird’s movie “Stan & Ollie.”
“Philomena” writer Jeff Pope has written the script for the project, which was developed by BBC Films and will be produced by Faye Ward’s Fable Pictures and Pope’s Sonesta Films.
Pope said: “Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are my heroes. 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.
“I am aware of the huge responsibility of bringing their characters to life, but I have not treated the boys with kid gloves or looked at them through rose-colored specs. They are living and breathing characters, with flaws and shortcomings.
“The research into this story threw up so many details and facts that I had no idea about. But everything I have done has come from a place of love and more than anything else I hope this shines through.”
The movie follows Laurel and Hardy as they set out on a variety hall tour of Britain in 1953. Diminished by age and with their golden era as the kings of comedy behind them, they face an uncertain future. As they crisscross the country, attendances are disappointingly low. But they’ve always been able to make each other laugh, and as the charm of their performances shines through their audiences laugh too, and the tour becomes a hit.
But they can’t quite shake the specter of their past, and long buried ghosts, coupled with Oliver’s failing health, start to threaten their partnership. A portrait of a creative marriage unfolds as the duo, aware that they may be approaching their swan song, try to rediscover just how much they mean to each other.
The film is produced by Ward, and executive produced by Christine Langan and Nichola Martin for BBC Films, Pope for Sonesta Films and Gabrielle Tana.