A Sony Pictures Classics Release

Stan & Ollie

About

Synopsis

Laurel & Hardy, one of the world’s great comedy teams, set out on a variety hall tour of Britain in 1953. Diminished by age and with their golden era as the kings of Hollywood comedy now behind them, they face an uncertain future. As the charm and beauty of their performances shines through, they re-connect with their adoring fans.

The tour becomes a hit, but Stan & Ollie can’t quite shake the specter of Laurel and Hardy’s past; the long-buried ghosts, coupled with Oliver’s failing health, start to threaten their precious partnership. A portrait of the most tender and poignant of creative marriages, they are aware that they may be approaching their swan song, trying to rediscover just how much they mean to each other.

About the Production

“It’s a love story” — WRITING STAN & OLLIE
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are widely regarded as the greatest comedy partnership in movie history. Between 1927 and 1950, they made over 107 film appearances (32 silent short films, 40 sound shorts, 23 features, 12 cameos), defining the notion of the double act with infectious chemistry and hilarious routines that seemed effortless but were honed down to the finest detail. The pair were part of the very few silent stars to survive and thrive in the sound era, adding wordplay to their comedy mastery, “You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led,” quips Stan in BRATS.

Their influence goes way beyond cold stats and film buff analysis having amassed a huge and devoted international fan base, three museums and an appreciation society, Sons Of The Desert. Beloved the world over - in Germany, they are Dick Und Doof, in Poland Flip I Flap, in Brazil O Gordo e o Magro - they are a gateway to comedy, a passport to a world of sublime silliness and everlasting friendship. Whether you know them from TV reruns, cartoon adaptations or a Twitter gif, just to hear their theme tune, The Cuckoo Song, is not only a guaranteed smile, it's a time machine to a more innocent age. People admire Chaplin, sit in awe of Buster Keaton but they love Laurel and Hardy. There is a hardly a comedian alive who hasn’t been influenced by Laurel and Hardy, their reach is long.

It is an affection shared by STAN & OLLIE screenwriter Jeff Pope. Weaned on Saturday morning BBC TV screenings of the pair’s legendary two-reelers, Pope was gifted a Laurel and Hardy DVD box-set fifteen years ago, watched WAY OUT WEST and started to investigate the story behind the icons. His research revealed a little-known slice of Laurel & Hardy history: the double act’s theatre tour of the UK during the early ‘50s as documented in AJ Marriot’s book Laurel & Hardy: The British Tours.

“You just have this wonderful picture of these two guys that had been such giants staying at little guest houses, playing tiny theatres and not realizing they did it because they loved each other,” says Pope. “This is the thing that inspired me to write the whole film. It’s a love story between two men.”

Producer Faye Ward agrees with Pope, saying “Stan & Ollie is essentially about two best friends. And what that means to be two best friends at the end of your life, without them being aware about the end of their life. But it’s also about these two creative forces and how that magic arrives.”

Steve Coogan who plays Laurel and worked with Pope on the Academy Award® nominated screenplay for PHILOMENA immediately responded to Pope’s approach of analyzing their 35-year relationship through the prism of the tour.

“It is very smart of Jeff to do that because the mistake is often to try and do a biography where you tell the chronological story of someone's life,” he says. “It's better to shine a light on a specific aspect of their lives and you can learn everything from that. You can see humanity in a moment.”

The filmmakers decided to call the film STAN & OLLIE, not LAUREL & HARDY as the production was dedicated to exploring the men behind the legends, Pope’s script revealing truths behind their cinematic personas. Whereas Hardy would often take control on-screen, Laurel was the creative brains who oversaw every aspect of production; once shooting had finished, Hardy would often go off and play golf. The film also suggests that, while in the movies the pair were inseparable, off-screen they were friendly but just work colleagues. As Pope puts it, ‘They were never really close until they took these arduous tours and they lived in each other’s pockets week in, week out. The premise of the film is how they became as close in their real lives as they were in their fictional lives.”

Producer Faye Ward explains “I think it was really important this idea of getting back to the homage and essence of Laurel and Hardy and the reason why we didn’t want to do a conventional biopic. We wanted to create something that new and old audiences could enjoy. Laurel and Hardy have huge fans around the world, as well as huge comic fans like Ricky Gervais and Paul Merton, John C Reilly and Steve Coogan there are millions of others, thousands of people talking about how inspired they still are by them. I think there’s an immediate ease even if you’re new to them you can feel the inspiration of what that comedy duo did for the comedy we still see today.”

Pope’s script is peppered with telling, touching details about the central relationship — Laurel kept writing sketches for the pair seven years after they had retired — yet Coogan was constantly aware STAN & OLLIE needed other colors.

“I knew the film was going to be poignant and sad and emotional, my fear was: would it be funny enough?” he says. “You have to earn the right to have the poignancy by charming people. You can charm an audience with comedy.”

While much of the comedy comes from meticulous recreations of Laurel and Hardy’s stage acts, Pope’s script also sews in some of their most famous routines into the fabric of their lives. So, their attempts to get the trunk up the stairs in a railway station closely mirrors the memorable piano-stairs sequence of Oscar® winning THE MUSIC BOX. “As the script evolved, I realized there were certain points I could tip my hat to their glorious past,” says Pope. But for Coogan, stitching their skits into everyday situations also says something about the nature of comedians.

“As with many comics, there is not a total distinction between a comedy character an actor plays and who they are in reality, especially if they are heavily involved in the creative process,” he observes. “There is an overlap and we try to let the audience see that, really if you are a Laurel and Hardy fan, then I think we honor the memory of them for those people for whom it’s important that we don’t generalize and that we are specific, and that we’re faithful to who they were. And for those who aren’t, it’s entertaining because when we re-create some of their iconic moments I think we do it in such a way that it’s funny and it still makes people laugh now”

“It’s not like a conventional biopic” — REALISING STAN & OLLIE
Jeff Pope sent the script to Jon S. Baird, who was directing Danny Boyle’s TV series BABYLON. Baird, who remembers watching Laurel and Hardy growing up in Scotland had a background in recreating the comedy legends. “I’ve still got pictures of me and a pal dressed up as Laurel and Hardy in a school fancy dress show,” he laughs. “I was Stan, he was Ollie. He had a lot of padding, the first remnants of a fat suit.”

The film’s journey to the big screen really stepped up when Fable Pictures’ producer Faye Ward (SUFFRAGETTE) joined the team. Ward had met Baird on film industry initiative Inside Pictures and she immediately recognized the story had a chance to appeal beyond a film buff fan base.

“Even if the film wasn't about Laurel and Hardy, it's about two best friends who have lived through something together,” says Ward. “They lived through wives, work, bankruptcy, highs and lows. They are reaching a point where they are realizing they are old and might be towards the end of their lives. Watching that reflection would be fascinating even if they weren't Laurel and Hardy. It was incredibly clear to me when I first read Jeff’s script and heard Jon’s vision I could see the potential of how special the movie could be.”

With family near Stan Laurel’s hometown of Ulverston, Ward spent many summer holidays at the Laurel and Hardy museum. A big fan, she brought a passionate zeal to ensure STAN & OLLIE didn’t fall into the spoon-feeding clichés of true life stories.

The director had a clear take on the compelling dramatic question raised by Ollie’s decision to make a film, ZENOBIA, without Stan.

“It’s about a marriage between these two people who love each other but someone has committed an infidelity in the past,” he says. “Then the other one has the opportunity to do the same: do they take it?”

Just before shooting began, Baird was struck by appendicitis and had an emergency operation, but Jon made an almost miraculous recovery and was back on set in a week! As the production moved forward, the clarity and confidence Baird brought to the project impressed everyone. “Jon was fantastic on set, really specific and clear with his direction,” observes Coogan. “There was no waffle, which sometimes you get from directors.”

John C. Reilly, who plays Oliver Hardy, was similarly taken with Baird’s passion. “Jon is the person who sat down with me and made me feel I could really do it. He was a true believer, a very unflappable optimistic guy. If we have any success with this project, it will be with Jon’s commitment to the project and belief in us.”

Ward says of working with Jon “He is incredible, he’s got such a vision for the piece and I felt he really got under the skin of Laurel & Hardy and Stan & Ollie.”

Baird’s cinematic dynamism is present from the get-go. The film opens with a six-minute tracking shot that follows Stan and Ollie from their dressing room across a Hollywood studio lot, onto set and into an argument with studio boss Hal Roach.

“I just felt to get that flavor of Hollywood, it seemed like the right device,” notes Baird. “You need to see it unfold all the way through. I thought the script really called out for it. I wanted to challenge myself as well.”

Baird’s bravura asked a lot not only of his crew but also of his actors, who had to deliver reams of dialogue in one go.

“There is a lot of pressure in a shot like that,” admits Coogan. “You almost have to not care about it. If we were on tenterhooks about screwing up, the casualness would be too inauthentic. So, you forget about all the choreography, you just think we are two guys having a conversation. I think that comes with experience, realizing the best thing you can do is just relax and stop giving so much of a shit about everything.”

The shot immediately leads into another pressurized and iconic moment for the actors: Stan and Ollie’s iconic dance to ‘At The Ball, That’s All’ in front of a Saloon backdrop in the classic WAY OUT WEST. Coogan and Reilly worked with Director of Movement And Choreography Toby Sedgwick to get the scene down perfectly. The dance makes a number of appearances in the movie as Laurel and Hardy perform it on tour, with the routine getting increasingly creaky. For the on-set version, Sedgwick even coached the actors to incorporate the mistakes Laurel and Hardy made during the filming.

“We choreographed that dance so many times we could do it in our sleep” confirms Coogan. “What's great about watching them dance is that they are just sort of throwing it away and not appearing to try very hard. It requires a lot of work to make something look easy.”

Ward elaborates on the extraordinary dedication Coogan and Reilly showed, she says “It was amazing the level of work John and Steve had put in. They’d replicated in so much detail that even when the real Laurel and Hardy in the footage get it wrong, they’d recreated the mistakes too; they got it absolutely spot on and it is magic to watch.”

As well as the dance, Sedgwick, an expert in clowning, also worked with the actors to create the skits Laurel and Hardy performed on stage. Sedgwick, Coogan and Reilly built the established routines from the ground up but also invented new shtick especially for the film. For the actors it added an extra dimension to the filming.

“We had to forge a bond in those moments because it wasn't just a film,” recalls Reilly. “Because of the theatrical nature of the tour we were filming performances with people out in front of us. It was not only the pressure of making a film but then there’s the pressure of all these people sitting there watching us. We’ve got to deliver for them too. It almost gives you a battlefield loyalty to each other. I'll always love Steve for what we went through together.”

“It was so intimidating to play these guys” — CASTING STAN & OLLIE
Key to the success of STAN AND OLLIE was finding actors who could not only inhabit but also illuminate the inner lives of the central partnership, to shine a light on whom the men actually were, what made them tick.

Steve Coogan was the first and last person Jon Baird spoke to about playing Stan Laurel. Coogan first met Laurel and Hardy on TV, watching their misadventures in a dressing gown during school summer holidays. “It was very accessible to a child,” he recalls. “A pure kind of comedy that is to do with character not situation. There are no real consequences. It's a happy world.” During Skype meetings with Baird and Ward, Coogan would effortlessly slip into Laurel’s mannerisms but his performance also captures the drive and decency of the man. As Ward puts it, “I think it's great to see Steve do something you've not quite seen him do before.”

Baird elaborates “I met Steve over lunch one afternoon and we were chatting away about Stan Laurel, and without any warning he went into Stan, he started doing Stan. And he would drop his napkin and then come up and bump his head on the table and the shivers went up my spine and I thought ‘wow’, and it was just that little moment, it was everything. I knew he was a very clever guy and I knew that he would absolutely get everything that it was supposed to be but actually bringing Stan off the page, in the amount of detail he puts into the voice and the performance, it was just a no brainer after about five minutes of speaking to Steve about it. Everyone got excited when Steve got involved, for obvious reasons.”

“I had a great partner in Steve,” says John C. Reilly. “We realized from the beginning there’s no way to do this unless we learned to love each other. We were pretty much strangers, but we became real friends. He is one of the funniest people I have ever met. I’d get this real lonely feeling whenever Steve wasn't on the set with me, it would feel like a part of me was missing.”

Faye Ward recalls how she felt when Coogan and Reilly were onboard “It was just so exciting to get John and Steve, there’re really not many actors in the world who could actually be Laurel and Hardy, they’re just incredibly tuned comedians with a perfect sense of physical comedy timing. It was just so wonderful to see those two play Laurel and Hardy, you did feel like you were watching two icons playing two icons.”

If Coogan’s career has been marked as a solo performer, Reilly has worked in partnerships with the likes of Will Ferrell. But still the actor was daunted at the prospect of playing a comedy legend.

“In a way I tried to talk my way out of the project because it was so overwhelming and intimidating to play these guys,” says Reilly. “I feel we live in an age of Google and Wikipedia and anything that anyone wants to know about the facts of someone’s life are instantly available. But the beautiful thing about this story was you go inside their relationship and it gives you a glimpse of what it might have been like working together.”

From comedies (STEP BROTHERS) to musicals (CHICAGO) to drama (THE LOBSTER), Reilly’s range was critical in landing the screenplay’s balance of laughs and emotion.

“He's a fantastic actor,” says Coogan. “He is also able to be mature, poignant and truthful and at the same time have an understanding of comic technique. They are two different skill-sets. Comedy is frequently a technical skill and being emotionally open and honest is about being in touch with your feelings. There isn't a huge amount of actors who can do both those things. He is one of them.”

Reilly’s casting was also instrumental in landing Coogan. “I asked whom were they thinking for Oliver Hardy,” Coogan recalls about his early discussions for the role. “They said they were thinking of John C. Reilly and I said, ‘Well if you get him, I am in.’”

Baird recalls his meeting with Reilly “The thing John said was ‘it’s a massive responsibility to play this character, he’s my hero’, and Steve had said that as well. But John said, ‘I can’t let anybody else play this part, it’s terrifying to take this on but I can’t let anybody else do it’. And I thought ‘well, if that’s the kind of guy you are, that’s the kind of guy I want to work with because it shows responsibility, it shows bravery.

Once both men signaled interest, the team had to check the chemistry vital in bringing the relationship alive.

“Jon and Jeff flew out to New York to put them together to make sure they got on,” remembers Ward. “It was totally nerve-wracking. They left them to it in the restaurant and then suddenly in the distance they saw Laurel & Hardy sitting having dinner. It was just like ‘They are the ones’.”

And that magical combination was felt throughout the shoot, Ward recalls “When they first did the live theatre of ‘Double Doors’, it was in our first week of shoot and in front the whole crew - film crews can be somewhat cynical because they see hundreds of movie stars do a million things; but the whole place fell completely silent in awe and then laughing hysterically. And in fact, Harriet who is our second AD was crying, it was just that amazing.”

One the most difficult scenes the actors had to perfect was the Way Out West dance. Steve Coogan remembers “We had to study what Laurel and Hardy had done on film and then rehearse it and choreograph it, but what was peculiar was that we had to not only learn these dance steps, but the way they performed them was slightly haphazard and almost deliberately has a kind of amateurish charm and there are mistakes in the way they dance, and we had to learn the dance - with their mistakes. We had to emulate every misstep they made and every throw away gesture, that was quite hard as we had to learn to emulate what was in the original film and we had to perform the same dance routine on stage, but without the errors. So, you have to learn the dance two ways: one way with some slight, odd errors and another way which is more refined. So, it got quite confusing, but we did it so many times that we just knew it, I could probably do it now!”

“It wasn’t an easy job to get.” — THE WIVES OF STAN & OLLIE
In the fictional world of Laurel & Hardy, the pair’s wives are sometimes portrayed as henpecking their hapless men into submission often resulting in a madcap scheme. STAN & OLLIE’s conception of Lucille Hardy and Ida Laurel playfully nods to the notion of nagging wives whilst simultaneously painting a much more rounded portrayal of two very different women who were the bedrock for their partners amid the ups and downs of show business. These women were strong, intelligent and forthright and we are left in no doubt that these iconic men absolutely needed the women they had standing behind them.

As Ward says “the wives come along and they’re also a duo. What Jeff has achieved so cleverly in the script with Ida and Lucille is that you don’t know a huge amount about their history together with the men, as well as their careers, but he shows you enough so that you can understand that they have gone on a journey for a long time with these men and they have their own quirks and energy together – they are their own double act.”

Both Coogan and Reilly had input into who played their spouses. Although Shirley Henderson had previously worked with Baird twice, it was Reilly who suggested her to play Lucille, the WAY OUT WEST script supervisor who became Hardy’s third wife, after working with her on TALE OF TALES. Given Lucille was a Texan and Henderson is Scottish, Reilly and Baird had to convince the production she was right for the role but, for the actor, the advocacy was completely worth it. “As an actor, as I was playing bigger, older and with bad knees, I had to believe the person playing my wife not only loved me but was attracted to me,” he says. “Shirley and I developed a real affection for each other.”

Despite having worked with actor and director before, Henderson recalls, “it wasn’t an easy job to get. I had to do three auditions!” Having fond memories of watching Laurel & Hardy on Christmas morning, Henderson reacted to the dilemma in Lucille’s love for Hardy during the punishing tour.

“She is concerned he is taking far too much out of himself but acknowledges he needs it for his life-blood. She cares very deeply for him. And that's what I latched onto. No matter what, everything was about him, his health and his well-being.”

If Lucille is quiet and undemonstrative, Laurel’s wife Ida, played by Nina Arianda, is a tour de force with a flair for the dramatic. Arianda caught Baird’s eye following her role in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS and met the actor for a meeting in a New York restaurant.

“We must have had three or four bottles of wine,” he laughs. “I was under the table and she was still there, absolutely solid. I thought 'This is my girl.' I think she is one of the best actors I have ever worked with. It was a total mixture of what we were looking for: somebody who was quirky but had that sense of tough love which is kind of an Eastern European sensibility. She was perfect.”

A Tony® award-winning actor, Arianda was drawn to the story’s exploration of “the public vs. the personal.” A dancer in Hollywood, Ida understood Stan’s creative ambitions and his need to be “on.” Yet beneath her histrionics, there was an empathy and vulnerability that Arianda found engaging.

“I thought she was wonderful in both her warmth and strength,” she says. “I loved that she adored this man so deeply. The thing that struck me in doing research was that the first thing that attracted her to him was his loneliness. I thought it was a very specific woman who was attracted to a man’s loneliness. I found that fascinating.”

Ward recalls “Shirley and Nina both spent so much work researching the real wives It was incredible to work with Nina and Shirley they are also both such fantastic heavyweights and we were just so fortunate to have them in the roles”.

The arrival of the two women in London is when, according to Baird, “events start hotting up. Things are brought up from the past. They are the catalyst for the argument that leads to the split.”

“Laurel and Hardy were my girls and booze” — THE MONEY MEN OF STAN & OLLIE
Key to the break-up of Laurel & Hardy long-time collaborator, producer Hal Roach played by Danny Huston. The actor spent some of his childhood in Italy so only knew the comedy duo as Stanlio e Ollio dubbed into Italian. “I remember coming to London as a child and being horrified that they were speaking in English,” he laughs. Huston plays the hard-nosed Roach as a “cigar-chewing studio boss” refusing to pay the pair what they are clearly worth, pitching the performance between broad comedy and something more realistic. Yet for all the potentially cartoonish qualities of the character, he is quick to acknowledge Roach’s importance in the Laurel and Hardy story.

“You could also say he discovered them,” says Huston. “They were both independently successful as actors, but he had the genius of putting them together. I use the word 'genius' lightly because they were the geniuses, but he was able to capitalize on them. He had a keen enough eye to know they would be a triumph together.”

“There is nobody who knows Hollywood like Danny Huston,” says Baird. “He's steeped in it. He's a very handsome guy and we wanted him to be that very commanding studio head. He told us some incredible tales about his dad, John Huston, and some of the stuff that was going on then. He was great to have around as a reference for that time period.”

“Hal Roach is only in the film a small amount” Faye Ward says “what we needed from the Roach character was a ‘super injection’ of Hollywood, so to speak, we are depicting old Hollywood in its purest form so who else to ask but an actor with Hollywood running through his veins - Danny Huston. When he arrived on set he simply had this aura of ‘Huston’ to him, which oozes Hollywood mogul. He was perfect.”

She continues “Physically there had to be an element of somebody who seemed scary to John C Reilly and Steve Coogan, and there’s not many people in the world that has that texture, that gravitas that you feel like this gentleman could hire and fire these two icons in a second. Danny has that in spades.”

A kind of British theatrical version of Roach, Bernard Delfont is the impresario who brought Laurel and Hardy for a UK tour in the ‘50s. As played by Rufus Jones, Delfont is an archetypal showbiz schmoozer. “He’ll never stab you in the back, but he might deliver live acupuncture,” laughs Jones. “He’s two cups Bob Monkhouse, one cup Denholm Elliott in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and a dash of Ian Faith from (THIS IS) SPINAL TAP. He’s very urbane, very charming.”

Faye Ward describes Jones’ energy on set “Rufus brings this modern, youthful energy into Delfont. It is 1953 and far into the career of these two men and it is a joy to watch him standing next to these giants of comedy with this youthful energy. Delfont enters their lives, he understands television, he understands the modernity of life. Laurel and Hardy haven’t yet reached that point. Plus, Rufus is very, very funny and extremely likeable which is so key with Delfont”

As a kid, Jones was a self-proclaimed “Laurel & Hardy completist nerd” joining the fan club Sons of the Desert and buying Super-8 two-reelers to project against his bedroom wall. Such an important pillar of his childhood — “Laurel & Hardy were my girls and booze before I could afford girls and booze.” — Jones was nervous picking up Jeff Pope’s script as a super-fan. Flicking through the pages, he breathed a sigh of relief.

“I think Jeff did a fabulous job of giving you everything you wanted to see in terms of the iconic Laurel and Hardy scenes with such really delicious references to their work but at the same time presenting Stan and Ollie as opposed to Laurel and Hardy and realising them as three-dimensional characters.”

“It was like wearing a mask on your whole body” — BECOMING STAN & OLLIE
Coogan and Reilly’s physical transformation was overseen by make-up supervisor Jeremy Woodhead and Mark Coulier, the talented prosthetics designer who won Academy Awards® for THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and THE IRON LADY.

“Mark Coulier is an absolute genius” said Producer Faye Ward “The level of work that went into perfecting the look for the two boys was unbelievable and having talent like Mark onboard and working alongside Jeremy just elevated the whole process to a whole new plane.”

After lots of experimentation, the team made the decision to dial back the make-up for a less is more approach.

“You have to be very careful the viewer isn’t thinking, ‘What incredible make-up!’” explains Coogan. “They have to get lost in the performance, in the story. So, we didn’t want anything too distracting.”

“It’s not a waxwork,” says Woodhead of the prosthetic. “You’ve got to design it in a way they can move, talk, perform and do all these things. It’s not a carbon copy but it’s as near as we can get it to enable the actors to do their bit.”

In the end, Coogan opted for a false chin, teeth and customized tips to make his ears stick out. In a strange coincidence, Coogan has brown eyes and needed blue and Reilly had blue eyes and needed brown so both men wore colored contact lenses. For Stan’s hair, raised in a quirky quaff on screen, Woodhead stuck to the back-to-basics philosophy.

“Steve uses his own hair, but it is coloured to match Stan Laurel’s,” he says. “Stan was actually a red-head. We toyed with the idea of going red, but it gets distracting — it becomes a surprise that his hair was red. By the end of his life, he was colouring his hair anyway.”

To become Ollie, Reilly endured four hours in the make-up chair. By the ‘50s, Hardy weighed near 400lb, but the team took the decision not to go that heavy. Coulier and Woodhead tried four different fat suits made out of reticulated foam. To get the look right, the team drew inspiration from Hardy’s own life.

Ward says “We worked for a long time with John C Reilly to get his look right, he came in and did 100s of different sessions and we built his suit in many different ways. And of course, there are a huge amount of practicalities in regard to prosthetics because not only do you have to look the part but you have to be able to act through it, you have to be able to feel the magic of John C Reilly through the suit but be perceived as Hardy.”

“Oliver Hardy’s nickname was ‘Babe’ because he had the shape and proportions of an overgrown baby,” says Reilly. “I started sending baby pictures to Guy and Mark and it started to click.”

Reilly had different suits for the various stages in Hardy’s life, the 1937 version more firm and controlled. Although reticulated foam is lightweight, it still retained the heat, so Reilly was plugged into an ice machine in between takes. The whole process was helpful for Reilly to increase his confidence to play the character.

“Only my face and the flats of my hands were exposed,” he recalls. “The rest was encased in prosthetics or a fat suit. So, in a way it was like wearing a mask on your whole body. The mask was so convincing it made me believe from the outside in that I could play this character.”

Shirley Henderson recalls the first time she saw Coogan and Reilly in full costume and make up “It was just mind-blowing. I saw them first on the Blue Ridge Mountains song, you know when he knocks him over the head with a hammer and everything. Nina and I were in the back of the auditorium, our characters are meant to be sitting, later on we’re meant to be sneakily watching what they’re up to. But all day we were just sitting there watching them perform this, and it was…it was like it was Laurel and Hardy, it was phenomenal. That they could just do that. There’s obviously little hints in their faces, but the prosthetics and the voice and the dancing, it was just immaculate, incredible to watch.”

Jon Baird remembers the first time he saw them “There was complete silence,” he recalls. “I thought there was something wrong. But there wasn’t. People were just astounded by how they looked.” Nina Arianda got her first glimpse of the pair shooting a scene where Ida watches them perform. “I forgot where I was for a moment,” she marvels. “I felt like I was watching Laurel and Hardy. In that room I can’t tell you how magical it was. On that day I completely forgot what I was doing.”

“20 different types of hat” — DRESSING STAN & OLLIE
For STAN & OLLIE, costume designer Guy Speranza and his team created just under 2000 costumes to represent both ‘30s Hollywood and ‘50s Britain. But there were two elements that took absolute precedence — the hats and suits that form the unmistakeable and iconic silhouette of Laurel and Hardy.

“Poor Guy,” says John C. Reilly. “He must have manufactured 20 different types of bowler hat to get the height of the crown or the width of the brim just right because we couldn’t afford to get that wrong. The image is so iconic.”

Speranza’s research ensured no detail went unnoticed. Laurel would unstitch the brim of his hat — a cross between a bowler and a derby — then cut the brim and re-stitch it to give it the appearance of being much taller and thinner. Speranza fashioned a dark suit with a Norfolk fabric for Ollie, who wore the jacket with one button done up to accentuate his stomach. The designer put Laurel in a light three-piece suit with lots of pockets with shoes without a heel — Laurel would remove the heels from his shoes to give him a comedy gait which meant the trousers were too long. Speranza was also keen to demonstrate the distinction between fictional and real-life appearances.

“On stage, Stan in particular was scruffy,” he observes. “Ollie was the smarter one. In real life they were quite dapper. The biggest thing was trying to give an American feel to their costume because their fabrics were much nicer. There’s lots of images of them in real life wearing these berets and looking quite silly. It was nice to show them in normal life but still with an element of comedy about it.”

There was also the conundrum of using colour in creating the world of the two actors who so many only know in black and white.

Speranza says “Well the big thing was just seeing them initially, just seeing them not in black and white. And introducing color into two very iconic people, comedians that you’ve mostly seen in black and white - trying to get the audience used to seeing them in color. I spoke to JP at the beginning, he showed me all the sets and then we worked together with Jon. There’s just so much information about Stan and Ollie, there are tons and tons of reference, which really helps. And then with the locations trying and trying to get their American feel about them, trying to make them stick out in an English environment. So, it’s a work in progress. I like to do lots of mood boards of colors, then for example we tried to keep color for this scene in Worthing very Technicolour, and then more green in Ireland, just trying to make certain areas more specific.”

Speranza’s personal most memorable moment is the Way Out West dance “When they did the dance, the ‘Way Out West’ dance on stage because I’ve watched it on film so many times. Stop, pause, stop, pause, stop, pause all the time, trying to see all the little details of what they wore I actually burst into tears when I saw them do it, I got very emotional. It was just lovely to see them doing that dance, I’ve seen it so many times, seen the actual Stan and Ollie doing it, and the way they recreated it was just brilliant, that was one of my favorite moments.”

“It really got people’s Laurel and Hardy juices flowing” — DESIGNING STAN & OLLIE
The story of STAN & OLLIE not only covers two distinct time periods but also two completely different worlds: the glamour of ‘30s Hollywood and the somewhat dreary gloom of ‘50s Britain. It was an exciting challenge for BAFTA award-winning production designer JP Kelly to bring these contrasting landscapes visually to life.

“There’s a colour palette from the grandeur of ‘30s Hollywood to the dark dankness of a rainy day in Newcastle to London in all its post war recovery splendour. Then there is the simplicity of arriving in Ireland, which is like a group hug for the film at the end. Each of those have to have a different quality that was really the design brief for how we balanced all those different looks together and how we showed progression in their journey, and to contrast it of course with the 1930s and this Hollywood lifestyle which they had which was sunny and shiny and exactly the opposite to a rainy day in Scunthorpe.”

To realise the exteriors of Hal Roach studios in its heyday, the production knew there was only one location in the UK that fit the bill: Pinewood Studios. The team researched the films being made at the Roach Studios during that period — children’s franchise THE LITTLE RASCALS — and augmented this with roman centurions and Egyptian pharaohs, phasing in cowboys and saloon girls as Laurel and Hardy approach the WAY OUT WEST stage.

A busy bustling studio, supervising location manager Camilla Stephenson knew finding a window at Pinewood to mount the complex scene would be challenging.

“We had to come on Sunday because we would literally have Stormtroopers walking past,” she laughs. “We still had to change a lot of things to make Pinewood work. A lot of productions helped us out by hiding their equipment. We asked JURASSIC WORLD if they would move a container and they said, ‘It’s not a container, it’s a raptor cage!’”

Kelly elaborates on the challenges of the scene “We really wanted to create a world that showed Laurel and Hardy's success but also the excitement and contrast with the world we end up in for most of the film, which is in England. Pinewood Studios has very little to do with Hollywood but was built around the same time, so architecturally a lot of the buildings are able to just about pass as Hollywood studios. We then made set extensions at the end of streets, so you can see Hollywood hills in the background and so on. And then the characters arrive at the Way Out West stage, which was in Twickenham, where we're meticulously recreating the scene from Way Out West, which is where they arrive at the saloon and they do their famous dance. This was a really fun set to create. There are really two aspects to it: a saloon bar where we'll have the Avalon brothers sitting outside singing and then amazingly at the time, which most people won't have realised when they watch the film, that the Way Out West scene of them dancing was shot with a back projection. And if you look at it, very carefully you can see a definite line between where they're standing and projection behind them.”

The exciting thing about that backdrop was that the team managed to track down the very one that was used in the original shoot! Researcher James Hunt tracked down the original archive that held Laurel and Hardy material and was put in touch with Jeff Goodman who works at the Producer’s Library. Jeff was incredibly helpful, and it turned out that he had been the archivist who had put the material into store way back in the day! He knew exactly what we were looking for sent two pieces of the original backdrop to ensure the piece could work.

For the studio interiors, a staffroom at the grandiose Eltham Palace in Greenwich doubled for Stan and Ollie’s dressing room while the WAY OUT WEST set was painstakingly recreated at Twickenham Studios right down to the mule. “It was tough because we wanted to get it pinpoint accurate,” explains Baird. “If you step back far enough and play them both together, you would struggle to see which one was which — that's how we wanted it to be.” Also, at Twickenham, the team created a set for a fantasy sequence depicting Stan & Ollie’s never made Robin Hood comedy ROB ‘EM GOOD.

“We purposefully recreated a strange looking Sherwood Forest in keeping with the Laurel and Hardy one,” laughs Kelly. “It had a river running through it and a huge amount of greenery, all completely inappropriate for a forest in the Midlands. As soon as you put actors in Robin Hood costumes in the middle of it, it looks like you are in the middle of a Technicolor epic. It was funny. We built loads of lovely and elaborate sets, but everyone raved about that set the most. It really got people’s Laurel and Hardy juices flowing.”

When the action switches to Britain, STAN & OLLIE becomes a road movie with the American legends travelling the length and breadth of Britain. Similarly, Kelly and Stephenson combed the country looking for theatres that were both period-accurate and fit the needs of the story. Theatres used included the Old Rep in Birmingham, The Fortune Theatre in London, building to the Hackney Empire, which doubled for the Lyceum, the venue for Laurel and Hardy’s triumphant London show. As the pair moved around the country, they discovered a similar pattern.

“We’d go to a theatre and they’d say, ‘Laurel and Hardy performed here, we’ve even got a poster’” says Stephenson. “They were absolutely across all these rep theatres.”

The Britain that Laurel & Hardy tour is a landscape of run-down boarding houses, and cheap-and-cheerful lidos. Kelly wanted to accentuate the contrast of two Hollywood legends amidst the post-war austerity, especially in the North of England. But the team were wary of straying too far into traditional British film territory.

“There is a certain expectation with British film for it to be grimy, for the pace to be a bit slower and for it to be real,” says Baird. “It had to be true to the 50s but it had to match up tonally to the whole film. We've not overly designed anything. Things are rubbed down a little bit but it doesn't come out like social realism. We wanted it to make it feel like Britain but also not to depart too much from the tone of the film.”

When the action reaches London, much of the drama unfolds in the Savoy Hotel. The production utilised the hotel exteriors but recreated the foyer and restaurant at the Park Lane and the rooms at West London Studios. Although not completely historically accurate, Kelly carried the Art Deco stylings of the Park Lane into the interior rooms to add a touch of opulence that demonstrated Laurel and Hardy were on the up.

“What was grand in the fifties isn’t so grand by today’s standards,” says Kelly. “In reality the Savoy’s rooms were modest compared to today. There is a balance between historical accuracy and contemporary audience expectations of what a big hotel looks and feels like. At the end of the day, we are storytellers so that has to be the key consideration.”

Faye Ward recalls “One of the most memorable days was when we recreated Cobh Harbor in Ireland. We couldn’t actually go to Cobh Harbor, so we cheated it in Bristol Harbor, which was fantastic. It was a sunny day and we had this incredible vintage ship there and had about 350 extras, all dressed in Irish textures along with authentic reproduced banners and we recreated that wonderful arrival. The Irish church at Cobh Harbor played the Cuckoo Waltz, through the bells, for their arrival, which was really wonderful. And it was their journey from England to Ireland at the last moment of their tour. It was such a special day and JP and Guy did an exemplary job, it was a very special day and I am sure that will come across in the film.”

This moment of Laurel and Hardy receiving the warmest welcome in Ireland also resonated with the Dublin born Kelly.

“My uncle had seen them in Dublin in the 1950s,” says the Ireland-born designer. “I’ve always known that story. He’s in his ‘90s. He’s delighted about that.”

‘Delight’ is a notion that comes up a lot discussing STAN & OLLIE. For Jeff Pope, it is the heart of the WAY OUT WEST, the simple scene of two men dancing just for the joy of it, that inspired the project.

“You just sit there and laugh about how much they love being together and how they can take enjoyment in such simple things. I think that is why they are still so loved. We can look at them and think: ‘You know what? It doesn't take a lot to get happy.’ We complicate it too much now. If you look back at them, they can get happy so easily.”

It is this bright innocence that resonates with Faye Ward. For her, it is one of the reasons STAN & OLLIE, a film about legends from the golden age of Hollywood, is a film for right now.

“We are in a place and time where people are pretty scared of life,” she says. “Watching their routines is just so heartwarming. There is a pure joy, an innocence to what they bring which I think is really great and fun for audiences today. Half the audience are crying and then laughing just because it is incredibly clever but simple at the same time. It's so lovely and actually I think we really need a bit of that at the minute.”

Cast

Steve Coogan

Steve Coogan

Stan Laurel

Steve Coogan was born and raised in Manchester where he trained as an actor at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre. Shortly after Drama School, Coogan landed his first job as an impersonator and comic on the satirical TV series, SPITTING IMAGE.

In 1992, Coogan won the Perrier Award for his show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Whilst appearing on various shows on BBC Radio 4, the now infamous Alan Partridge was born. The character moved from Radio to TV and over the years has picked up a number of BAFTAS and British Comedy Awards. Coogan took the character on two nationwide sell out tours. The latest series of MID MORNING MATTERS aired on Sky Atlantic in February 2016 with critical acclaim and was followed by mockumentary special, SCISSORED ISLE for Sky in late May. Alan Partridge’s second book, ALAN PARTRIDGE: NOMAD was released in October 2016.

Other TV appearances include SAXONDALE in 2006, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM in 2007, THE SIMPSONS in 2012, HAPPYISH in 2015 and THE TRIP in 2010, 2014 and 2017. Coogan won the BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance in 2011 for his performance in THE TRIP, and the third series aired on Sky Atlantic in May 2017 to much critical acclaim. For his work in TV and Film, Coogan has won seven BAFTA Awards and seven British Comedy Awards. Most recently, he won the BAFTA for Male Performance in a Comedy Program for ALAN PARTRIDGE’S SCISSORED ISLE in 2017.

Coogan’s film career includes five films with Michael Winterbottom and performances in THE PAROLE OFFICER, 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, A COCK AND BULL STORY, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, TROPIC THUNDER, IN THE LOOP, THE LOOK OF LOVE, ALAN PARTRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA, DESPICABLE ME 2 and 3 and PHILOMENA.

PHILOMENA, in which Coogan starred alongside Judi Dench, received worldwide critical acclaim upon its release. Coogan was further recognised for his role as producer and co-writer alongside Jeff Pope, winning the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in addition to being nominated for Best British Film and Best Film. The film was also nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Last year, Coogan starred in Oren Moverman’s adaptation of THE DINNER alongside Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall, DESPICABLE ME 3, MINDHORN and RULES DON’T APPLY.

Upcoming productions include a new season of Alan Partridge for BBC One, THIS TIME WITH ALAN PARTRIDGE, voicing a role in the animated film THE ADVENTURES OF DRUNKY co-starring Sam Rockwell, Jeffrey Tambor and Nina Arianda and HOT AIR, opposite Neve Campbell and Skylar Austin.

In addition to his acting career, in 1999 Coogan set up Baby Cow Productions, with Christine Langan currently as CEO. Baby Cow have produced several award-winning programs including ALAN PARTRIDGE, THE MIGHTY BOOSH, THE TRIP, GAVIN & STACEY and RED DWARF. Upcoming series include E4’s HIGH AND DRY from writer/actor Marc Wootton and CAMPING, an HBO eight-part series currently in development from GIRLS creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner to star Jennifer Garner.

John C. Reilly

John C. Reilly

Oliver Hardy

John C. Reilly is one of the most diverse actors working today, with an impressive range of roles in dramas, comedies, musicals and foreign films. He has been acknowledged by the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, the Tony Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards as well as the Grammys.

This year, Reilly will star in four very diverse films: HOLMES & WATSON with Will Ferrell, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2, STAN AND OLLIE, and in Jacques Audiard’s THE SISTERS BROTHERS, alongside Joaquin Phoenix.

Other recent films THE LOBSTER, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the French award-winning film LES COWBOYS, directed by Thomas Bidegain and the Italian film THE TALE OF TALES for director Matteo Garrone, all of which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. John also recently starred in KONG: SKULL ISLAND.

Reilly has worked with top directors such as Martin Scorsese in both GANGS OF NEW YORK and THE AVIATOR; Brian DePalma in CASUALTIES OF WAR; Robert Altman in A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION; Terrence Malick in THE THIN RED LINE; Rob Marshall in CHICAGO; Roman Polanski in CARNAGE; Wolfgang Petersen in THE PERFECT STORM; Lynne Ramsay in WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and Paul Thomas Anderson in HARD EIGHT, BOOGIE NIGHTS and MAGNOLIA.

Reilly has starred in the hit comedies TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY, WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY, STEPBROTHERS, CYRUS, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. He voiced the title character in the Academy Award nominated animated feature WRECK-IT RALPH, and he also voiced the role of ‘Eddie’ in SING.

His work in the world of independent films include THE GOOD GIRL, CEDAR RAPIDS, THE PROMOTION, TERRI, YEAR OF THE DOG, CRIMINAL, and THE ANNIVERSARY PARTY.

His many theater credits include "True West", in which he received a Tony Award nomination, and "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway, as well as Steppenwolf productions of "The Grapes of Wrath" and “A Streetcar Named Desire”.

Nina Arianda

Nina Arianda

Ida Laurel

Nina Arianda is a versatile actress, commanding both the stage and screen in a number of multi-faceted roles. A Tony Award Winner for VENUS IN FUR, a role which she originated Off-Broadway, she is the youngest actress ever to be nominated for back-to-back Tony’s in consecutive years – BORN YESTERDAY (2011), VENUS IN FUR (2012). More recently, Nina starred in Broadway’s FOOL FOR LOVE, the critically acclaimed Sam Shepard play. On the film side, Arianda has played memorable roles in Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, Tom McCarthy’s film WIN WIN, Vera Farmiga’s HIGHER GROUND, and Brett Ratner’s TOWER HEIST. Arianda can also be seen starring in ROB THE MOB opposite Michael Pitt, LUCKY THEM with Toni Collette, Ned Benson’s film THE DISSAPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY opposite James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain, and Barry Levinson’s film THE HUMBLING, opposite Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig.

She was also recently seen in Stephen Frears’ film FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, starring in a supporting role opposite Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. She can also be seen in THE ADVENTURES OF DRUNKY this year, as well. She wrapped filming the second season of GOLIATH, as a series regular, and has guest starred on HORACE AND PETE, MASTER OF NONE, HANNIBAL, THE GOOD WIFE, HOSTAGES, and 30 ROCK.

Shirley Henderson

Shirley Henderson

Lucille Hardy

Shirley Henderson is a multi-award-winning actress, whose film and television career has made her a household name throughout the UK and across the world.

Henderson has starred in many television dramas, most notably in Channel 4’s SOUTHCLIFFE for which she won the Scottish BAFTA award for Best Actress. She also played a lead role in the critically acclaimed JAMAICA INN for the BBC and Sally Wainwright’s multi award-winning series HAPPY VALLEY.

Her other television credits include THE TAMING OF THE SHREW for the BBC, MAY CONTAIN NUTS for Tiger Aspect, DIRTY FILTHY LOVE for ITV and TREASURE ISLAND for Benbow Films. She has also starred in DR WHO for the BBC, WEDDING BELLES for Channel 4 and the BAFTA winning CHARLES II: THE POWER AND THE PASSION for the BBC.

Henderson has a well-established film career spanning over two decades. She is perhaps most well known for her role as Moaning Myrtle in the HARRY POTTER franchise and for her role as Bridget Jones’ chardonnay-swilling sidekick, Jude, in the BRIDGET JONES franchise.

Henderson has won many awards for her film work including the BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actress in a Scottish Film for her role in Juliet McKoen’s FROZEN and Best Actress at the Cherbourg-Octeville Festival of Irish & British Film for her role in Don Coutts’ AMERICAN COUSINS. She was nominated for the BIFA’s Best Supporting Actress award for her role alongside James McAvoy in FILTH as well as for her role in Lone Sherfig’s black comedy WILBUR (WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF). Her other film credits include Michael Winterbottom’s critically acclaimed EVERYDAY alongside John Simm, Danny Boyle’s TRAINSPOTTING, Michael Winterbottom’s 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, Shane Meadows ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE MIDLANDS, Deva Palmier’s FISHY and Frank Van Passel’s VILLA DES ROSES.

In 2015, Henderson played a lead role in Matteo Garrone’s epic fantasy, THE TALE OF TALES alongside Toby Jones, Vincent Cassel and Salma Hayek and in 2016, she played alongside Celyn Jones and Elijah Wood in the Dylan Thomas inspired SET FIRE TO THE STARS. Most recently Henderson has been seen playing opposite Tilda Swinton in the Bong Joon-ho Netflix feature OKJA and Kathleen Hepburn’s NEVER STEADY, NEVER STILL.

Henderson has just finished a run of GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY at the Old Vic Theatre and London’s West End. She has recently received an Olivier nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for her role.

Danny Huston

Danny Huston

Hal Roach

Danny Huston is known for his versatility and dramatic screen presence. Most recognized for his roles in films like Martin Scorsese’s THE AVIATOR, Alfonso Cuaron’s CHILDREN OF MEN and Alejandro Inarritu’s 21 GRAMS, Huston has worked with some of the finest film directors of his generation.

Huston got his start directing MR. NORTH with Robert Mitchum, Anthony Edwards and his sister Anjelica Huston. He went on to give his breakthrough acting performance in the independent film IVANSXTC for which he was nominated for Best Male Performance at the 2003 Independent Spirit Awards. Since then his film acting work has included: X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, Ridley Scott’s ROBIN HOOD, HITCHCOCK with Anthony Hopkins, WRATH OF THE TITANS with Liam Neeson, THE CONSTANT GARDENER with Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes, Sofia Coppola’s MARIE ANTOINETTE, John Sayles SILVER CITY, THE LIBERTADOR with Edgar Ramirez, THE CONGRESS with Harvey Keitel, John Hillcoat’s THE PROPOSITION with Guy Pearce, BIRTH opposite Nicole Kidman, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT with Josh Hartnett, Peter Berg’s THE KINGDOM, and many more.

In 2013, his critically acclaimed role of Ben the butcher in MAGIC CITY, earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. His other television acting work includes the hit television series MASTERS OF SEX, a recurring role in the hugely popular AMERICAN HORROR STORY, and performances in YOU DON’T KNOW JACK with Al Pacino and JOHN ADAMS.

Additional credits include PARANOID, Marc Forster’s ALL I SEE IS YOU, FRANKENSTEIN directed by Bernard Rose, PRESSURE, directed by Ron Scalpello, and Tim Burton’s BIG EYES. Huston also directed himself in THE LAST PHOTOGRAPH which screened at The Edinburgh Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival.

In 2017, Huston portrayed Robert Evans in the stage adaptation of THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE directed by Simon McBurney, for The Royal Court Theatre in London. Huston also recently appeared in the global box office smash WONDER WOMAN, directed by Patty Jenkins.

Rufus Jones

Rufus Jones

Bernard Delfont

Rufus Jones began his career as one fifth of the Perrier Award nominated Dutch Elm Conservatoire. On television, he is best known as unbearable TV producer David Wilkes in W1A. He was also Dr. Foggerty in Julia Davis’s HUNDERBY and Tom in Davis’s CAMPING. He played Miles Mollison in JK Rowling’s THE CASUAL VACANCY. Other TV work includes STAG and HOLY FLYING CIRCUS. He is currently starring in FLACK with Anna Paquin. Recent films include THE FOREIGNER with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan, and BAFTA nominated THE GHOUL.

 

Filmmakers

Jon S. Baird

Director

Jon S. Baird (Director) began his career at the BBC and quickly progressed through the ranks to become one of Britain’s most exciting directorial talents. His first role as director was in 2003 when he directed the topical comedy show THE STATE WE’RE IN, presented by John Oliver. In 2004 Baird wrote, directed and produced his first short film, IT’S A CASUAL LIFE, which led to him landing a role as an associate producer on the feature film GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS (2006), starring Elijah Wood.

Baird’s directorial debut feature, which he also wrote and produced, was the highly acclaimed CASS (2008); a true story about a Jamaican orphan, whose violent struggle for identity saw him going from public enemy number one, to successful author. Baird’s follow up feature FILTH (2013), which he also wrote, directed and produced, was based on the bestselling novel by Irvine Welsh and starred James McAvoy. FILTH won numerous awards and played at several international film festivals. FILTH is in the top ten highest grossing UK 18 certificates of all time.

In 2014, Baird directed the television drama BABYLON for Channel 4, which was produced by Academy Award Winner, Danny Boyle. Baird was then approached by HBO in 2015 to direct an episode of their Martin Scorsese / Mick Jagger produced show VINYL, created by Terence Winter.

In 2016 Baird directed two episodes of a new AMC show FEED THE BEAST, starring David Schwimmer, and the second episode of a new Showtime series I’M DYING UP HERE, created by Jim Carrey.

Awards include: Winner of Breakthrough British filmmaker and nomination for Best British Film (London Critics Circle), Best Screenplay nomination (Writer’s Guild Great Britain), Best Director and Best Film nominations (BAFTA Scotland) Best Director nomination (British Independent Film Awards) Best British Film nomination (Empire Film Awards).

Faye Ward

Producer

Faye Ward is one of the UK’s most prominent producers. 2015 saw the international release of SUFFRAGETTE starring Carey Mulligan, Anne Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson and Meryl Streep. Recently Ward was part of the producing team of the critically acclaimed drama series THE CROWN.

In 2016 she set up TV & film production outfit Fable Pictures. 2017 saw Fable shoot COUNTRY MUSIC written by Nicole Taylor and directed by BAFTA nominated Tom Harper starring Jessica Buckley, Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo. Summer of 2018 sees Sarah Gavron’s next film come to fruition, GIRLS UNTITLED. Fable’s slate also includes four-part miniseries SAINT MAZIE starring Helena Bonham Carter, based on the novel by Jami Attenberg and adapted by Clara Brennan amongst many other TV projects with a roster of British talent including Yann Demange, Moira Buffini, Penny Skinner and Smita Bhide.

Previously, Ward worked at Ruby Film & Television alongside Alison Owen. Under the Ruby banner she produced the BBC’s Golden Globe nominated series DANCING ON THE EDGE, written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff, and an adaptation of Nigel Slater’s memoir TOAST adapted by Lee Hall and directed by S.J. Clarkson. She has produced DOUBLE LESSON starring Phil Davies and written and directed by George Kay.

Other credits include: Co-producer on JANE EYRE directed by Cary Fukunaga starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, Associate Producer on Stephen Frears’ TAMARA DREWE, FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and the multi award winning television adaptation of SMALL ISLAND, directed by John Alexander and starring David Oyelowo.

Jeff Pope

Writer, Executive Producer

Jeff Pope is an award-winning writer for Film and Television. Film credits include PHILOMENA for which Jeff picked up Academy Award, Golden Globe, BIFA and London Critics Circle nominations and BAFTA and Venice Film Festival wins for Best Adapted Screenplay. Other movie work includes PIERREPOINT: THE LAST HANGMAN, and ESSEX BOYS.

TV work includes the BAFTA-winning ITV drama MRS BIGGS, the multi-award winning DIRTY, FILTHY LOVE, Bafta winner CILLA, and LUCAN. As a producer, Pope has helmed a number of award-winning dramas including MO, a bio-pic based on the life of politician Mo Mowlam; the BAFTA winning SEE NO EVIL - THE MOORS MURDERS; APPROPRIATE ADULT, which earned five BAFTA awards as well as a Golden Globe nomination and, most recently, acclaimed drama THE MOORSIDE and ITV drama LITTLE BOY BLUE.

Xavier Marchand

Executive Producer

Xavier Marchand has over twenty-five years of experience in the film industry leading production, distribution and sales businesses. In 2017 he founded Moonriver Content, a production company for film and television. At Moonriver, in addition to STAN & OLLIE, Xavier has executive produced Tom Harper’s COUNTRY MUSIC, currently in post-production.

Prior to Moonriver, Marchand was head of film at Entertainment One, joining in 2012 through its acquisition of Alliance Films, where he led the company’s European film business. In recent years, Marchand produced Saul Dibb’s epic war drama SUITE FRANÇAISE, based on Irene Nemirovsky’s best seller, and was an executive producer on Tom Harper’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK: THE ANGEL OF DEATH, Gavin Hood’s war thriller THE EYE IN THE SKY, starring Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul, Tom McCarthy’s SPOTLIGHT, James Watkin’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Dustin Hoffman’s QUARTET, and the second and third installments of the hit horror franchise, INSIDIOUS.

Prior to Alliance Films, Marchand was a founder and director of Haystack Productions, which produced David Caesar’s DIRTY DEEDS with Bryan Brown, Toni Collette, John Goodman and Sam Worthington, as well as Olivier Assayas’ CLEAN, which won best actress in Cannes for Maggie Cheung, and Valerie Lemercier’s PALAIS ROYAL with Catherine Deneuve. Before Haystack, he held senior roles at Polygram Filmed Entertainment and Warner Brothers.

Kate Fasulo

Executive Producer

Kate Fasulo began her career at leading international production company Working Title Films, joining their Los Angeles office in 2003. She spent four and a half years in development in LA before transferring to Working Title’s London headquarters in 2008. There she helped oversee the production of several major UK and international films including acclaimed award-winners TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (directed by Tomas Alfredson) and ANNA KARENINA (directed by Joe Wright), Greg Mottola’s PAUL, Edgar Wright’s THE WORLD’S END and Baltasar Kormakur’s EVEREST.

In the fall of 2013, Fasulo left Working Title to run production for UK based company, Good Films, and was instrumental in getting the company’s first feature, THE INFILTRATOR (directed by Brad Furman and starring Bryan Cranston), off the ground. In late 2015, Fasulo began working as a consultant with Entertainment One Features, overseeing production across their slate, on films including MOLLY’S GAME (directed by Aaron Sorkin) and THE RITUAL (directed by David Bruckner) and has most recently Executive Produced their upcoming film STAN & OLLIE (directed by Jon S. Baird).

Fasulo founded Little Images Productions in 2016. Little Images has a first look deal with Entertainment One Features and are currently in development on a number of film and television projects.

Joe Oppenheimer

Executive Producer

Joe Oppenheimer was Senior Commissioning Executive at BBC Films. Having entered the film industry in 1995 following a stint at an internet start-up company, Oppenheimer spent his early years in the industry working as a writer and director, before making the move into development and production. He joined BBC Films’ development team in 1998, and worked across the department’s creative output for 20 years, covering all genres, and alongside some of the industry’s most notable figures. Oppenheimer boasts a wide range of film and television production credits, with recent highlights that include Idris Elba's directorial debut YARDIE, and THE CHILDREN ACT starring Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci.

Nichola Martin

Executive Producer

Nichola Martin is Head of Development at Baby Cow Productions, overseeing the television drama and feature film slates. She is currently working on Zadie Smith & Nick Laird’s adaptation of Smith’s Booker long-listed novel SWING TIME, and Paul Unwin’s adaptation of John Sutherland’s Sunday Times best-seller BLUE. Both are commissions for the BBC. The current feature slate includes projects with Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Jeff Pope, Rick Cottan and Simon Farnaby.

From 2013-2017 Martin was Development Executive and Executive Producer at BBC Films. She commissioned and oversaw development and production of over twenty features, short and documentary films, working with a wide variety of writers including Bill Nicholson; Jeff Pope & Steve Coogan; Andrea Gibb; Simon Stephenson; Deborah Moggach; Tess Morris; Ol Parker; Jemma Kennedy; Nathaniel Martello-White; and Jennifer Saunders. Her credits include Stephen Frears’ FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS and PHILOMENA; Amma Asante’s A UNITED KINGDOM; Andy Serkis’ BREATHE; Saul Dibb’s SUITE FRANCAISE; Thomas Napper’s debut feature JAWBONE; DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD and ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE.

Martin was also the BBC Films executive across the micro-budget filmmaking initiative iFeatures, responsible for fostering new filmmakers. Recent iFeatures titles include William Oldroyd’s acclaimed and multi-award-winning LADY MACBETH, Hope Dickson Leach’s THE LEVELLING and Guy Myhill’s BIFA-winning THE GOOB.

In 2012 Martin produced MJ Delaney’s debut feature POWDER ROOM. From 2004-2011 she was Development Executive at Ealing Studios, where she worked on over 10 features, including the hit ST. TRINIAN’S franchise, John Landis’ BURKE & HARE, Stephan Elliott’s EASY VIRTUE and Ol Parker’s IMAGINE ME & YOU. She began her career as producer's assistant at Renaissance Films and has also worked as freelance casting director and script editor.

Eugenio Perez

Executive Producer

Eugenio Perez has worked in the television and film industry for over 25 years with extensive experience through all aspects of production. In 2016 he set up TV & film production outfit Fable Pictures alongside Faye Ward with Sony Pictures Television taking a minority stake.

Perez first collaborated with Faye Ward as Associate Producer on TOAST, the BBC adaptation of Nigel Slater’s memoir.

At the same time, Perez set up the EIS business structure and successful fund raiser for the award-winning stop-motion CBeebies show Rastamouse. The show now stands at 104 episodes, it has been broadcast in 79 territories and won Broadcast Best Pre School show 2012 and 2014, Kidscreen International Best Pre School Animation in 2014 and was nominated for the Children’s BAFTA in 2011 and 2012.

Perez’s credits also include Co-Producing ANOTHER ME, a feature film by Isabel Coixet for Fox International which premiered at the Rome Film Festival 2013.

Perez’s most recent venture was developing and producing award winning APPLE TREE HOUSE, a brand new 30-part mixed-media preschool drama series set around an inner-city estate bursting with life, season 1 of which aired on CBeebies in Spring 2017. Season 2 will be airing in May 2018. Series 1 winning Broadcast Best Pre School show 2018.

Gabrielle Tana

Executive Producer

Gabrielle Tana is a film and television producer based in London and New York. Through her own company, Magnolia Mae Films, she produced PHILOMENA and THE INVISBLE WOMAN in 2013, both of which were Oscar-nominated. Other Magnolia Mae productions include Dancer, a feature-length documentary about the young ballet star Sergei Polunin, CORIOLANUS, starring Gerard Butler, Ralph Fiennes, and Vanessa Redgrave and directed by Fiennes, and the Academy Award-winning THE DUCHESS, starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes and directed by Saul Dibb. Currently in post-production is THE WHITE CROW, a biopic about Rudolf Nureyev, directed by Ralph Fiennes and written by Sir David Hare.

Following their successful collaboration on PHILOMENA, Tana has now joined Baby Cow Films. Due for release in 2018 is AN IDEAL HOME, written and directed by Andrew Fleming and starring Steve Coogan & Paul Rudd. In development are A KIDNAPPING, starring Coogan and Ruth Wilson and to be directed by Hans Petter Moland, and FOXGLOVE, which reunites the writing team of Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope. MY ZOE, written and directed by Julie Delpy, will go into production in May.

Prior to working as an independent producer, Tana was a production executive for Walt Disney Pictures Europe.

Christine Langan

Executive Producer

Christine Langan graduated from Cambridge University in 1987 and worked in advertising for three years. Langan joined Granada Television's drama serials department where she script-edited daytime soap operas. From there, she transferred to Granada's newly created comedy department, where she developed the acclaimed television series COLD FEET, and other one-off comedies.

In September 2002, Langan signed a new contract to develop new projects at Granada's combined drama, film and comedy department. Her first production was the romantic comedy television film WATERMELON, starring Anna Friel. At the end of 2002, she began developing Peter Morgan's THE DEAL, a dramatization of the political rise of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown which was presented with the British Academy Television Award for Best Single Drama in 2004. The same year, she produced the one-off drama DIRTY FILTHY LOVE, which was also nominated for the BAFTA for Best Single Drama.

In 2005, Langan's feature debut PIERREPOINT was released at major film festivals and got Langan a nomination for the Carl Foreman Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the 60th British Academy Film Awards in 2007. 2006 saw the theatrical release of THE QUEEN to critical acclaim. In 2007, it won the BAFTA Award for Best Film and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

In September 2006, Langan made a low-key departure from Granada to take up a position as an executive producer with BBC Films. By 2010, Langan had executive produced high-profile films such as IN THE LOOP, FISH TANK, and AN EDUCATION. BBC Films received 13 nominations at the 63rd British Academy Film Awards, described in the London Evening Standard as a record number.

In 2016, Christine moved to become CEO of Baby Cow Productions, known as the home of multi award-winning comedies, ALAN PARTRIDGE, NIGHTY NIGHT, THE MIGHTY BOOSH, GAVIN AND STACEY, and RED DWARF.

Jim Spencer

Co-Producer

Jim Spencer has filmed in more than twenty countries and his credits include, THEIR FINEST, PRIDE, TRESPASS AGAINST US, MONSTERS, ALL STARS and STREETDANCE 3D.

His television credits include the GAME CHANGER, ROME & VENICE, as well as the EMMY & BAFTA winning HIROSHIMA.

Spencer is currently co-producing JUDY starring Renee Zellweger.

Laurie Rose

Director of Photography

Laurie Rose always wanted to convey stories visually. His break into narrative work came almost by accident in 2009 and since then a passion for combining compelling stories with the moving image has led to collaborations with some of the most exciting British and European directors working today.

For Rose, it’s resolutely about that collaboration - joining with like-minded people to realize a story together. Now based in Brighton, Rose lives with his inspiring wife and two children.

Úna Ní Dhonghaíle

Editor

Úna Ní Dhonghaíle has edited many of the leading lights of British drama, in what some are calling the Golden Age of Television. Her list of credits includes WALLANDER, THE MISSING, RIPPER STREET and THE CROWN. Dhonghaíle has been BAFTA nominated four times and has edited many highly acclaimed drama and feature documentaries on an international level, winning the IFTA in 2016 for a documentary which she also co-directed.

Most recently, Dhonghaíle has won two Royal Television Society Awards for Best Editing for her work on the BBC drama THREE GIRLS, for which she was also awarded the Technicolour Craft Award at the WFTV Awards and the IFTA for Best Editing 2018. She is currently editing the drama LES MISERABLES. Úna is also editing the new Roddy Doyle feature film, entitled ROSIE.

Billy Sneddon

Editor

Billy Sneddon started his Editing career working with comedians such as Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly, so it was natural that he went on to become such a highly acclaimed comedy Editor working in both television and feature films.

Sneddon’s collaborations with Director Armando Iannucci on Oscar nominated IN THE LOOP and THE THICK OF IT led to his being nominated for Best Editing at the RTS awards. Billy has also been nominated for his work on GREEN WING. More recently Sneddon has cut much of the multi Emmy award winning series VEEP.

Sneddon feature films also include FOUR LIONS, KILLING BONO, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE, and GHOST STORIES.

John Paul Kelly

Production Designer

John Paul Kelly was born and educated in Ireland before moving to London to attain a BA in Architecture. He later attended the RCA where he graduated with an MA in Design for Film and Television.

Kelly designed the multi Oscar and BAFTA winning THEORY OF EVERYTHING directed by James Marsh, telling the life story of the late Stephen Hawking. Previous works include the huge hit sequel BRIDGET JONES’ BABY, Richard Curtis’ ABOUT TIME, and THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL starring Nathalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson.

Kelly has designed numerous independent films including John MacDonagh’s hilarious comedy THE GUARD, Fernando Meirelles 360, starring Anthony Hopkins and filmed in London, Vienna and Paris, VENUS and ENDURING LOVE both directed by Roger Michelle.

Earlier work includes Michael Winterbottom’s A COCK & BULL STORY, and the multi award winning films UNDER THE SKIN by Carine Adler and 24/7 by Shane Meadows. He also designed the Berlin Silver Bear winning BLOODY SUNDAY directed by Paul Greengrass.

Kelly’s television includes THE LOST PRINCE by Stephen Poliakoff which won him a BAFTA and an EMMY award, having also worked previously with Stephen on SHOOTING THE PAST.

Guy Speranza

Costume Designer

Guy Speranza originally begun his career as an assistant costume designer on productions such as DIE ANOTHER DAY, VERA DRAKE, TOMB RAIDER, Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN Trilogy starring Christian Bale, and TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY and then went on to design in his own right on numerous short films for directors Tony Grisoni and Peter Cattaneo. Speranza’s first feature as a costume designer was director Gary Love’s SUGARHOUSE, followed by Jon S. Baird’s CASS which led him to then design the feature length adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s edgy novel FILTH, starring James McAvoy, Imogen Poots and Jamie Bell, forming a regular collaboration with Jon S. Baird. Following on from this, Speranza designed the costumes for the comedy feature THE WORLD’S END, starring Paddy Considine and Rosamund Pike, as well as HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS for Peter Chelsholm.

In 2014, Speranza designed the costumes for the action drama EVEREST, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Kiera Knightley for director Baltasar Kormakur, and also James Watkins’ espionage thriller THE TAKE starring Idris Elba, Richard Madden and Kelly Reilly.

In television, Speranza worked on Kurt Sutter’s dark, medieval TV show THE BASTARD EXECUTIONER, and more recently several episodes of the dystopic BLACK MIRROR including SHUT UP AND DANCE, HATED IN THE NATION and ARKANGEL for Jodie Foster. In between this, Speranza went on to work with director Thomas Napper on JAWBONE, written by and starring Johnny Harris which subsequently went on to be nominated for a 2018 BAFTA and a BIFA.

Jeremy Woodhead

Hair & Make-Up Designer

Jeremy Woodhead has worked on many of the most visually ambitious films of the past decade, creating iconic designs for films including AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, DOCTOR STRANGE, CLOUD ATLAS and JUPITER ASCENDING.

Further film credits include JUDY, HOLMES AND WATSON, THE WOMAN IN BLACK), CEMETERY JUNCTION, DORIAN GREY, CONTROL, NOWHERE BOY, YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, JACK RYAN, MUNICH, ALEXANDER and V FOR VENDETTA. Amongst his television credits are RICHARD II, GAME OF THRONES, HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and SHACKLETON for which he received a RTS nomination for Best Make-Up Design.

Woodhead’s work on DOCTOR STRANGE earned him a 2017 BAFTA, Critics’ Choice Award and Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Award nominations for Best Hair and Make-Up. In 2013 he earned numerous awards for CLOUD ATLAS including the Critic’s Choice Movie Award for Best Make-Up and Hair Design, Lola Award for Best Make-Up Design and a Saturn Award Nomination for Best Make-Up.

Mark Coulier

Prosthetics Make-Up Designer

Mark Coulier is creative director of one of Europe's leading make-up effects companies, Coulier Creatures FX.

In 2012 Coulier was honored to win the Oscar and BAFTA for best make-up for THE IRON LADY, transforming Meryl Streep into Margaret Thatcher, and Oscar and BAFTA in 2014 for best make-up for GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. In 1998 and 2000 he received Emmy awards for the mini-series MERLIN and ARABIAN NIGHTS and a nomination for JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.

Coulier started his career back in 1987 and worked as a freelance sculptor and make-up artist for all the major effects companies in London. His all-round knowledge of processes, ability to create characters from the ground up and take them right through to completion, and organizational skills soon lead him to be hired as a key on projects such as MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN, EVENT HORIZON, ALIEN III, STAR WARS: EPISODE I, THE MUMMY and THE FIFTH ELEMENT amongst others.

In 2000, Coulier accepted a key role in Nick Dudman's creature dept on the first Harry Potter movie. Who would know then that this would extend over a period of 10 years and 7 movies with Mark overseeing the creation of Lord Voldemort and other memorable characters such as the inflating Aunt Marge and the goblins of Gringott’s bank.

Coulier Creatures FX has then continued to work on many films of all types of genre, generally seeking out new challenges and trying to create believable, memorable characters along the way, whether it be the burn injuries suffered by Nikki Lauda in RUSH, Nelson Mandela in THE LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, zombies in WORLD WAR Z, or Blofeld for SPECTRE. The last few years have been busier than ever before and include even more challenging and creative projects, including Luca Guadagnino’s remake of SUSPIRIA and recreating the band members from the rock group Queen for BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. The TOMB RAIDER reboot, FANTASTIC BEASTS, READY PLAYER ONE, BREATHE and JURASSIC WORLD 2 amongst others have also kept the company busy.

Rolfe Kent

Composer

The elegant way in which Rolfe Kent leaves space for melody to come through, be it over a lush bed of unfamiliar instruments or full orchestrations, is enchanting. Kent, composer for more than fifty films, has an innately curious and adventurous spirit that is audible through his embrace of multi-cultural musical styles.

A step into Rolfe Kent’s music studio reveals his original sounds, as well as long standing relationships with directors. A melodica, spotted laying on a marimba, created the soft, jazzy lead instrument in SIDEWAYS (2005 Golden Globe Nominee for Best Original Score), directed by frequent collaborator Alexander Payne. Adjacent to the marimba sits a map drawer that holds the Maui Zaphoon and Irish D Whistle, among various other flutes, that solo all over DOWNSIZING, also directed by Payne. On top of this map drawer lies a zither, one of the plucky melodic instruments heard in the DEXTER Main Title (2007 Primetime Emmy Nominee for Outstanding Main Title Theme). Nearby leans the long-necked banjo-like instrument, the saz, featured in THE HUNTING PARTY, directed by Richard Shepherd. A flat udu pot sits on a long shelf of percussion instruments, many of which were utilized in UP IN THE AIR (2009 Satellite Award Winner for Best Original Score), directed by Jason Reitman. Mixed into the ukulele collection is the charango Kent experimented with to write the sophisticated anti-themes for REIGN OVER ME, directed by Mike Binder. Situated to the left is a set of microphones that recorded a voice emulating ululation for MEAN GIRLS, directed by Mark Waters. This takes us to Kent’s most recent collaboration, STAN AND OLLIE, directed by Jon Baird, when the instrument nearest to the computer - the midi controller - was behind the often light-hearted and energetic or wistful and somber orchestral arrangements.

Andy Pryor

Casting

Andy Pryor trained as a Stage Manager at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. While Stage Managing at some of the UK's top theatres, including the Royal Court and the Bush Theatre he further developed a long-standing knowledge and appreciation of actors and their work.

After becoming Assistant Director at the Bush, where he oversaw casting for a year, Andy worked with Gail Stevens CDG for 5 years on some of the most successful and critically acclaimed Film and TV Drama of the 1990s, including Trainspotting, Crackerand Our Friends in the North.

Since setting up Andy Pryor Casting in 1998, Pryor has cast a diverse and exciting range of projects, including Life on Mars, I'm Alan Partridge, The Long Firm, Cutting It, Whitechapel, Upstairs Downstairs (for which he received an Emmy nomination), three series of Call the Midwife, Cucumber, Banana, The A Word, Undercover and Doctor Foster.

In addition to casting shows for all of the UK's major broadcasters, Pryor has worked with some of the UK's most celebrated screenwriters, including Paul Abbott, Peter Bowker, Russell T Davies, Peter Moffat and Heidi Thomas. Pryor has also had a long collaborative relationship with Stephen Poliakoff, having cast all of his work since SHOOTING THE PAST, including PERFECT STRANGERS, THE LOST PRINCE, DANCING ON THE EDGE, and the forthcoming CLOSE TO THE ENEMY.

Pryor has also cast several feature films, including BENT, BEAUTIFUL THING, GLORIOUS 39, GEMMA BOVERY, and THE DARK OUTSIDE.

Pryor has also been Casting Director on DOCTOR WHO since its hugely successful return in 2005 and to date has cast over 120 episodes and six Doctors.

Pryor is an ambassador for The Act For Change Project, which campaigns for diverse representation across the live and recorded arts. He is also former Chair of the Casting Directors' Guild of the UK & Ireland.