Far from a fine mess, Stan & Ollie prove to be a fine film – and Bristol’s historic harbour played its part.
Stan & Ollie films aboard The Balmoral (© EOne)
“One of the most memorable days [of the shoot] was when we recreated Cobh Harbor in Ireland. We couldn’t actually go to Cobh Harbor, so we cheated it in Bristol Harbour, which was fantastic. It was a sunny day and we had this incredible vintage ship there and had about 350 extras, all dressed in Irish textures along with authentic reproduced banners and we recreated that wonderful arrival. The Irish church at Cobh Harbor played the Cuckoo Waltz, through the bells, for their arrival, which was really wonderful. And it was their journey from England to Ireland at the last moment of their tour…. It was a very special day and I am sure that will come across in the film.” – Stan & Ollie Producer Faye Ward
Stan & Ollie, the highly anticipated new biopic starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as the legendary movie comedy duo Laurel & Hardy, opened in UK cinemas on Friday (January 11th) after filming in Bristol last year, supported by Bristol Film Office.
Bristol’s historic harbourside was a star attraction for filmmakers behind the British biographical film when it filmed along Princes Wharf in April 2018. The preserved harbourside, which is a popular location for film and TV shoots, doubled for the Irish docks that the world’s favourite comedy double act arrive at as part of their variety hall tour in 1953.
“The Balmoral was a gem of a find. Its conserved beauty was the perfect setting for a crucial moment in the film and we couldn’t have done it without the wonderful support of Bristol.” – Faye Ward
The Balmoral ship stars as the vessel the pair alight from, greeted by crowds of cheering fans. Filming also took place at the Bristol Hippodrome, which features as the exterior of a variety hall on the tour. Bristol Film Office facilitated filming, working with Stan & Ollie’s production team to secure locations and set up a unit base at Lloyds Amphitheatre.
Inspired by actual events, Stan & Ollie is an original film based on one of the worlds most loved comedy duos and geniuses of their time – Laurel & Hardy. Penned by award-winning screenwriter Jeff Pope (Philomena, Mrs Biggs) and directed by Jon S. Baird (Vinyl, Filth), Stan & Ollie stars stellar lead actors Steve Coogan (Philomena, Alan Partridge) as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly (Chicago, We Need to Talk About Kevin) as Oliver Hardy. Stan & Ollie is the heart-warming story of what would become the pair’s triumphant farewell tour.
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 was one of four films that Bristol welcomed last year, in what was a busy year for feature film shoots in the city. The cooperation of the Film Office, the M Shed and The Balmoral meant that we could help bring the large crowd scenes that the script required to life, in an authentic and visually stunning setting. Stan & Ollie is set to be a hit with audiences the world over and we’re really proud that Bristol, UNESCO City of Film, played a part in its production.” – Natalie Moore
The movie is in cinemas across the UK currently.