John C. Reilly helped to write some of the “emotional” scenes in new film Stan & Ollie.
In the Jon S. Baird-directed movie about the comedy double act Laurel and Hardy, the Chicago actor portrays Oliver Hardy and Steve Coogan takes on the role of Stan Laurel.
The screenplay was penned by Jeff Pope, though Reilly has now shared that he and Coogan had input in writing the dialogue for a number of key moments in the narrative.
“Steve and I participated in making the dialogue work in a way that seemed real to us, given our pasts as performers,” he said in an interview with Collider.com. “We know what it’s like to sit in the dressing room, and be sore and sweaty, and be talking with someone about ticket sales. We know how that feels. Steve and I have both done it. So, the script needed to be personalised, in that way, and those are the scenes that stick out to me.”
Rather than being a traditional biopic, Stan & Ollie follows Laurel and Hardy as they embark on a music hall tour of the United Kingdom, and depicts their struggles to get another film made. And while Reilly had long been a fan of the pair, he recalled how he was initially unconvinced about playing such an icon on the big screen.
“I was reluctant because I don’t really do impressions. That’s not really my thing. And then, the second thing was that I don’t weigh nearly as much as Oliver, and I wasn’t willing to gain a hundred pounds. But the main trepidation I had was that I didn’t want us to make a film about these guys that would end up being a liability to them. To me, they’re in a perfect place already,” the 53-year-old noted.
But despite his early concerns, Reilly was encouraged by the praise of filmmaker Baird, who he claimed, “really, really believed in me”.
Stan & Ollie began hitting cinemas on Thursday.