'Stan & Ollie': John C. Reilly spent three hours in make-up every day to transform into Oliver Hardy

Tom Butler
Senior Editor

A new video from behind-the-scenes of Stan & Ollie has revealed how Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly were transformed into comedy icons Laurel & Hardy. The two actors portray the double act in two eras of their careers: in 1937 at the height of their fame, and then in 1953 as the pair embark on a farewell tour of Britain.

The film’s director Jon S. Baird says Coogan and Reilly were the “number one choices” for the lead roles, but the process of physically transforming them into their characters was “a long one”.

John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy and Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel in Stan & Ollie. (eOne)

“Particularly getting [Oliver] Hardy right [was hard],” explains Baird in the video above, “because there was a lot more prosthetics involved for John [C. Reilly]. There was the fat suit that had to be made… the facial stuff, there was contact lenses, there was a wig.”

“John spent three hours in makeup everyday, it was unbelievable.”

John C. Reilly underwent a startling transformation for Stan & Ollie (eOne)

The filmmaker says Coogan’s transformation into Stan Laurel was “easier” as it required less work for the Alan Partridge star to be transformed into the British-born comic who died in 1965.

“[Steve] needed little things like they needed to flatten down his chin, some teeth, the ears to get them pinned forward.”

Baird says there were tears the first time the pair stepped out in full costume and prosthetics on set.

“When they first walked out it was kind of like a teary moment,” admits the director of Filth, “all the crew were there and everybody just started applauding because it was just incredible.”

The real deal: Oliver Hardy scratches the head of Stan Laurel, as the famous pair pose on the “Queen Elizabeth” at Southampton in 1947. (PA/PA Archive/PA Images)

The get into character, Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly say they spent a lot of time together to try replicate the easy chemistry of the silent screen stars.

“Steve and I realised from the very beginning, there’s no way to do this unless I really love you,” explains Reilly, whose voice can be heard in new release Ralph Breaks The Internet. “And so we learned to love each other.”

“Now, [John’s] a very good friend of mine,” adds Coogan, “and that’s what we hoped would happen, and he hoped would happen.”

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly take a selfie in full costume (eOne)

Entertainment One UK, who is releasing Stan & Ollie into UK cinemas on 11 January, 2019, also released the final poster for the film, which you can see below.

Here’s the full synopsis: The true story of Hollywood’s greatest comedy double act, Laurel and Hardy, is brought to the big screen for the first time. Starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as the legendary movie icons, Stan & Ollie is the heart-warming story of what would become the pair’s triumphant farewell tour.

Critics have been raving about Stan & Ollie, and there’s even been talk of awards (eOne)

With their golden era long behind them, the pair embark on a variety hall tour of Britain and Ireland. Despite the pressures of a hectic schedule, and with the support of their wives Lucille (Shirley Henderson) and Ida (Nina Arianda) – a formidable double act in their own right – the pair’s love of performing, as well as for each other, endures as they secure their place in the hearts of their adoring public.

Stan & Ollie will be in cinemas, 11 January 2019. Watch a trailer below.

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