I’M MAD ABOUT LAUREL &HARDY
Airdrie man helps out on movie
A lifelong Laurel and Hardy superfan got to rub shoulders with the stars of an upcoming biopic about the comedy icons’ relationship at the movie’s glittering world premiere in London.
But this was no chance encounter for Airdrie man Ross Owen – as he acted as a consultant on the Stan & Ollie flick, starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly, respectively, as the legendary duo.
Ross is no stranger to mixing it up with celebrities, having interviewed film, television, comedy and sporting stars on his self-titled radio show, which is broadcast on Black Sky Radio in Kansas and streamed online.
However, stepping onto a movie set to witness Coogan and Reilly in full make-up and costumes had extra poignancy for Ross.
The Whinhall-born 50-yearold explained: “I am a lifelong Laurel and Hardy fan; I watched them on TV with my mum and dad when I was growing up.
“I always found them hilarious and would run home for 5.30pm the nights their shows were on as I didn’t want to miss a second.
“When I first started regularly using the internet there was very little out there about Laurel and Hardy so, in 2005, I decided to set up the Laurel and Hardy Forum.
“It has grown to be the biggest Laurel and Hardy online database with articles, facts and community posts; we’ve got half a million Facebook users alone.
“I had built up a lot of knowledge on the duo and always wanted to see a biographical movie about them.
“I actually started writing one myself but then, two years ago, I opened up a paper and read that the Bafta award-winning writer Jeff Pope was penning a film.
“Little did I know then that I would be involved in the production!”
The team behind Stan & Ollie were looking for someone with expert knowledge about all things Laurel and Hardy to make sure they did the comedy geniuses justice — and Ross fitted the bill.
He said: “They contacted me and asked if I would be a consultant on the film – and I was delighted to accept.
“It was shot in England, with London doubling as Glasgow for the Glasgow Empire scenes, and I was on set at Pinewood Studios and in Bristol.
“The director and his team would ask me questions and I gave tips and advice; when I saw the movie for the first time, there were moments where I thought, ‘I told them about that’. “Steve Coogan and John C Reilly got their performances spot on; it was mind-blowing how they had the voices and looks down to a tee. “They weren’t only portraying the characters Laurel and Hardy but their real-life personas, and they did a wonderful job. “You could see playing these comedy legends meant the world to them and John C Reilly summed it up best when he said, ‘It’s a frightening prospect playing Oliver Hardy, but the thought of someone else playing him is even more frightening’.”
Ross got to sample the red carpet experience for the first time in his life at Stan & Ollie’s world premiere in London’s Leicester Square in what was a “truly special night” for the radio presenter.
He revealed: “It was brilliant to be involved; I had never been a part of anything like it in my life.
“I was interviewed on the red carpet and got to walk along it with all of the film’s stars.
“I also had the pleasure of meeting Stan Laurel’s great-granddaughter Cassidy, who was incredibly warm and friendly.”
And what of the final film itself? Does Ross think it does his comedy heroes justice?
“The team behind the movie have created a masterpiece; I was in tears by the end,” he said.
“The whole cast and crew, including the Scottish director Jon S. Baird, were all Laurel and Hardy fans so I knew it was in good hands.
“But Jeff [Pope] did a superb job with the script and the film is a love story about Laurel and Hardy’s relationship.
“This movie focuses on their final tour in 1953; it’s not a direct biopic.
“I’m hoping Stan & Ollie can introduce Laurel and Hardy to an entirely new generation. So many actors and comedians were inspired by them; they really were pioneers.”
Ross added: “I am looking to host special screenings of Stan & Ollie in Coatbridge and Glasgow around about its nationwide release in January.
“Watch this space as the Advertiser will be the first to know when things are put in place!”
Vi s i t R o s s’ Lau re l and Hardy Forum at www.facebook.com/ LaurelAndHardyForum or www. twitter.com/stan_and_ollie
Stan & Ollie is released in cinemas across Britain on January 11. Scot the lot Coogan and Reilly (right) wore their finest kilts at the London Film Festival
I am a lifelong Laurel and Hardy fan; I watched them on TV with my mum and dad when I was growing up Ross Owen
Leading men Ross with Stan & Ollie stars Steve Coogan and John C Reilly (left) and with Stan Laurel’s great-granddaughter Cassidy (below) at the premiere in London