I’M MAD ABOUT LAU­REL &HARDY

Air­drie man helps out on movie

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - Front Page - Ian Bunt­ing

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

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