Belfast Telegraph

Monday 26 January 2015

Steve Coogan gave Frears ultimatum

Steve Coogan had to work to get Stephen Frears on board for Philomena
Steve Coogan had to work to get Stephen Frears on board for Philomena

Steve Coogan has revealed he gave director Stephen Frears an ultimatum, saying he would make Philomena with or without him.

The actor and comedian stars with Dame Judi Dench in the true story of Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who decides to try to track down the son she was forced to give up for adoption by the nuns in the convent where she gave birth.

Steve bought the rights to the book and co-wrote the script, and admits he then had to court award-winning director Stephen to persuade him to make the film.

Steve said: "He was engaged in a process with us, but he didn't entirely say yes straight away. He did a little dance around us and we had to court him, and he made us work. He said the script was not quite there, it needed a little more work, and we made changes, because he was quite exacting.

"But then when we wanted to make it, we said, 'We're going to make it are you in or are you out? We're going to make it anyway, do you want to join us?' and he went, 'Oh alright then'."

The Queen's Stephen has a very minimal approach to directing, but Alan Partridge star Steve revealed he asked the director for guidance, as he is more used to comedy than dramatic acting.

Steve revealed: "I said to him, 'Look, I'm doing a drama here and I want to make sure my performance is kept down. I don't want to get too big or too animated, because it won't be appropriate for the subject matter. Just make sure I'm not too big.'

"And whenever I got too big he'd just shout 'Steve!' and he'd just go [makes lowering gesture] with his hand."

:: Philomena is in UK cinemas now.

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