“My approach to acting is you learn stuff about the character, you think about it, you give it your best shot and you try to take your brain somewhere else.” – Steve Coogan
The remarkable transformations that John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan underwent to portray Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in Stan & Ollie has generated considerable interest in the film, which is about the iconic comedy duo’s later years. Speaking with Coming Soon, Reilly and Coogan spoke about the choices they made in portraying their characters regarding wearing prothetics and whether or not wearing 1950s underwear is a necessary place that they needed to go in their performances.
When asked about his decision to wear a fat suit versus gaining 100 pounds like other actors have done for roles, Reilly explains why he went with the prosthetics. He says, “Well, each actor has their own way of finding their truth, you know? Some people do it that way, some people do it the way I did it, but there’s no judgment either way, you know? Whatever gets you through the night. Daniel Day-Lewis is a very immersive actor, and I’ve worked with actors that just think of it as complete make believe. So there’s no judgment. I did gain weight for a role one time. It took me so long to lose it afterwards. I would never do that again.”
Coogan added to Reilly’s answer by pointing out that every actor has a different process, and some strive for more “authentic” experiences in their performances than others. He explains, “My approach to acting is you learn stuff about the character, you think about it, you give it your best shot and you try to take your brain somewhere else. But I didn’t have to wear 1950s underwear unseen beneath my suit because it would’ve been the authentic experience. I know some people like to do all that stuff. There are people in the UK who reenact battles who put lice into their clothes because they think that will make the experience authentic. I don’t think that’s necessary, and neither do I think it’s necessary to, you know, go to extremes. But there are people who do that, and they do very well and they win Academy Awards.”