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Steve Coogan and John C Reilly to star as Laurel and Hardy

Published 18/01/2016

Steve Coogan is set to play Cumbria-born Stan Laurel
Steve Coogan is set to play Cumbria-born Stan Laurel

Steve Coogan will team up with John C Reilly to play much-loved double act Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, according to Deadline.

Stan & Ollie will be written by Jeff Pope, who won a Bafta award for Philomena, which starred Dame Judi Dench alongside Coogan.

Jon Baird, who directed James McAvoy in Filth, is on board for the dramatisation, described as an "emotional tribute to two of the funniest men in movie history".

Stan & Ollie, developed by BBC Films, centres on the ageing duo's 1953 variety hall tour of Britain.

Cumbria-born Laurel (Coogan) and American Hardy (Reilly) have to deal with initially disappointing attendances and Hardy's failing health.

The problems threaten to overwhelm their partnership as the two men attempt to reconnect with each other, in addition to their fans.

The comedy giants also have to come to terms with the end of their careers.

Laurel and Hardy were one of the most critically acclaimed comedy teams of early American cinema.

Their films produced by Hal Roach during the 1920s and 1930s included classics such as The Music Box, Sons Of The Desert and Way Out West.

Laurel died in 1965 aged 74. Hardy had died eight years earlier aged 65.

"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."

He added: "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-coloured specs."

He continued: "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."

Christine Langan, of BBC Films, said: "John C Reilly and Steve Coogan are dream casting for Stan & Ollie, bringing to life with uncanny accuracy and irresistible gusto the genius creative marriage that Jeff Pope's script explores so lovingly.

"With Faye Ward producing and Jon Baird at the helm, BBC Films is extremely excited to crank up production of this gem in 2016."

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