The 62nd BFI London Film Festival will close with the world premiere of Jon S. Baird’s Stan & Ollie, the true story of Laurel and Hardy’s farewell UK tour of 1953.
The world premiere of Stan & Ollie will take place on October 21 as part of the closing ceremony of the 62nd BFI London Film Festival. Stars Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, who appear as the legendary comedy duo, will be in attendance at the Cineworld in Leicester Square.
BFI London Film Festival Artistic Director, Tricia Tuttle calls the film a “beautiful tribute to cinema’s early comedy odd couple, Laurel & Hardy.” She adds that it is a “truly funny and touching story about a tender life-long friendship.”
The film from Jon S. Baird (acclaimed director of Filth and the excellent football hooligan drama Cass) follows the Hollywood legends, now diminished by age, on their 1953 UK tour, crisscrossing Britain initially playing at poorly attended gigs before word of mouth leads to a mini late-career revival.
Indeed, they find their mojo again despite the adversity and find audiences receptive to their charm and obvious love of performance. Ollie’s failing health and some ghosts from the past force the pair to pull together and rediscover their reserves to make this swansong tour a great farewell.
Baird said he was immensely proud the film was to have its world premiere in London, a city dear to the hearts of both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Stan & Ollie, at its heart, he says is “a love story between old friends, who just happen to be two of the most iconic comedic characters in Hollywood’s history.”
Tuttle adds: “Jon Baird’s film is a must for movie fans, exploring the twilight years of two mega-watt performers who had a meteoric rise to fame. These two prove that true comic timing is eternal, and it’s a perfect end to the Festival as the BFI looks ahead to our major UK-wide Comedy Genius season this Autumn, as well as a month-long Laurel & Hardy season at BFI Southbank in January.”
Coogan and Reilly were announced as the eponymous pair in January 2016 with shooting taking place in the UK in the spring of 2017 at locations around Dudley in the West Midlands, Birmingham and Bristol.
Jeff Pope, the writer who collaborated with Coogan on the Oscar nominated Philomena, is on writing duties. He calls the comedy pair “heroes”, saying seeing their films takes him back to the days of watching Saturday morning TV as a kid.
“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. They are living and breathing characters, with flaws and shortcomings,” he said in interview.
Director Baird, BAFTA Award-winning writer Jeff Pope, producer Faye Ward and other cast members will also be in attendance for the world premiere.
Entertainment One UK will release the film in UK cinemas in January 2019.