‘Male friends can love each other’ — com­edy pals on be­ing Stan & Ol­lie

Steve Coogan and John C Reilly say we need to stop de­scrib­ing male love as a ‘bro­mance’, writes Ni­amh Ho­ran

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - News -

ACOMEDY? A tragedy? Or per­haps sim­ply a re­ally beau­ti­ful love story? Stan & Ol­lie, a new film about comic le­gends Lau­rel and Hardy, de­tails a vul­ner­a­bil­ity and de­vo­tion be­tween two best friends that even made the movie’s di­rec­tor cry when he first read the script.

But de­spite the ob­vi­ous love be­tween the com­edy duo, John C Reilly, who plays Oliver Hardy in the movie, wants peo­ple to stop us­ing the word ‘bro­mance’ when de­scrib­ing lov­ing re­la­tion­ships be­tween two male friends.

“I don’t like that word ‘bro­mance’,” he tells the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent. “It’s a thing that peo­ple say to make friend­ship and love be­tween men sound silly or it is as if it’s in need of some spe­cial word.”

With co-star Steve Coogan, Reilly is sit­ting in Dublin’s Olympia The­atre, where Lau­rel and Hardy once per­formed. He says: “Men can love each other. It’s fine. It’s not sex­ual if they love each other. It doesn’t need to be called ‘bro­mance’.”

On the mo­ment in the film when Lau­rel tells Hardy he loves him, Coogan says: “I like that line be­cause it’s ut­terly free of am­bi­gu­ity. There’s noth­ing hid­den. There are no agen­das or ul­te­rior mean­ings. It’s just a straight­for­ward, sim­ple line about what he feels to­wards Oliver.”

Dis­cussing the fact that Hardy broke a prom­ise to his wife, Ida, to make his health a pri­or­ity and never work as part of the dou­ble act again, Reilly adds: “He is say­ing, what can I do? I am help­less to this fact.”

Be­fore the clos­ing cred­its, an ‘end card’ de­scribes how Lau­rel con­tin­ued writ­ing com­edy ma­te­rial for years af­ter Hardy died — de­spite the fact that none of it would ever be pre­formed.

Di­rec­tor John S Baird says: “To me, that’s love. Be­cause the man was heart­bro­ken.” “It was like half of him had died,” Coogan adds.

Speak­ing about his own life-long les­sons in re­la­tion­ships, the Alan Par­tridge star, who once fa­mously dated Court­ney Love, said: “I am not par­tic­u­larly a paragon of virtue in terms of love but what I do think is that, you know, it’s the old Bea­tles song: Love is All You Need.”

Draw­ing on the work of in­flu­en­tial psy­chol­o­gist Al­fred Adler, Coogan adds: “At the end of his life — from all his ex­per­i­ment­ing with the hu­man con­di­tion and hu­man be­hav­iour — he just came to the sim­ple con­clu­sion that peo­ple should be a bit nicer to each other, and that sounds sim­plis­tic but I think it would cure a lot of ills.”

“What it comes down to,” says Reilly, “is that love is some­thing you get if you risk heart­break, and that vul­ner­a­bil­ity begets love.

“If we are brave enough to fail in front of each other then that en­gen­ders that kind of trust — and from that trust you get this kind of chem­istry and love and, yeah, that’s a risky en­deav­our.”

Stan Lau­rel and Oliver Hardy be­came Hol­ly­wood le­gends early in the 20th Cen­tury and re­main the defin­ing slap­stick duo. Stan & Ol­lie sheds light on what hap­pened af­ter their ca­reer fal­tered and the pair set out to win back au­di­ences with a 1953 tour of the UK and Ire­land. We first see them at the height of their fame in 1937, pre­par­ing to shoot a dance rou­tine for their lat­est movie, Way Out West.

But un­happy with their lot, Stan is moan­ing to Ol­lie about their pay in com­par­i­son to other screen co­me­di­ans such as Char­lie Chap­lin. He wants to end their con­tract at the stu­dio, but an easy-go­ing Ol­lie isn’t con­vinced. Ol­lie stays, Stan leaves, but they can never reignite their on-screen magic as sep­a­rate acts.

By 1953 they are back to­gether and find them­selves washed-up in Eng­land, at the start of a largely un­her­alded UK tour.

Thus be­gins the blame game and the fights, flanked by their two loyal wives, un­til love — and Hardy’s quickly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing health — make them see sense.

Comic gold in parts, tragic in oth­ers, the warm­hearted biopic has proved a mas­sive suc­cess with crit­ics.

The film has al­ready picked up three Bafta nom­i­na­tions, and Reilly was nom­i­nated at the Golden Globes and Crit­ics’ Choice Awards for his per­for­mance.

The movie has also been tipped ahead of this year’s Os­car nom­i­na­tions. But nei­ther ac­tor is keen on win­ning over the other.

As Reilly ex­plains: “I have to say — any time some­one sin­gles out me over Steve or him over me, or gives one of us a nom­i­na­tion over the other, it makes me feel like you are miss­ing the point.”

DOU­BLE ACT: John C Reilly and Steve Coogan in Dublin last week and (top) in char­ac­ter. Above, the real Stan and Ol­lie in 1952

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.