Stan & Ollie

Stan & Ollie is a 2018 biographical comedy-drama film directed by Jon S. Baird and written by Jeff Pope. Based on the later years of the lives of the comedy double act Laurel and Hardy, the film stars Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. It premiered in October 2018 at the BFI London Film Festival. The film was released in the United States on 28 December 2018 and in the United Kingdom on 11 January 2019.

Stan & Ollie
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJon S. Baird
Produced byFaye Ward
Written byJeff Pope
Music byRolfe Kent
CinematographyLaurie Rose
Edited by
Distributed byEntertainment One Films (United Kingdom/Canada)
Sony Pictures Classics (United States)
Release date
  • 21 October 2018 (2018-10-21) (BFI)
  • 28 December 2018 (2018-12-28) (United States)
  • 11 January 2019 (2019-01-11) (United Kingdom)
Running time
97 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • United States
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$26.3 million[2]

The film focuses on details of the comedy duo's personal relationship while relating how they embarked on a grueling music hall tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland during 1953 and struggled to get another film made.

At the 76th Golden Globe Awards, Reilly was nominated for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and at the 72nd British Academy Film Awards the film earned three nominations, including Best British Film and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Coogan.


In 1937, while making Way Out West, Stan Laurel refuses to renew his contract with Hal Roach, because Stan believes the studio and Roach himself are failing to financially recognize the global fame the pair enjoyed at that time. Oliver Hardy remains tied to Roach on a different contract and isn't let go, with the studio attempting to pair him up with Harry Langdon in the film Zenobia, and while Laurel and Hardy would soon get back together, Ollie's absence during a meeting with Fox results in them not being signed on by the studio, leaving Stan feeling betrayed and bitter for years.

In 1953, the comedy duo embark on a grueling music hall tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland while struggling to get another film made: a comedic adaptation of Robin Hood. Poor publicity in Britain managed by the producer Bernard Delfont means the tour begins in almost empty back street theaters with Delfont seeming more interested in his up-and-coming star Norman Wisdom. Belatedly, Delfont organises some public appearances and word of their visit to Britain spreads, resulting in them filling much larger prestigious venues.

During the tour the pair, driven by Stan, continues to write and develop gags for the film. There is an ominous silence from its London-based producer. Once the tour arrives in London, Stan pays a visit to the film's producer and discovers there is insufficient funding and the project has been cancelled. He can't bring himself to tell Ollie and their script development continues.

They are soon joined by their respective wives, Ida and Lucille, at London's Savoy Hotel before they are to perform at a sold out two-week residency at the nearby Lyceum Theatre. After the opening night at the Lyceum, a party is held to honour them. At the party, tensions begin to show between the two wives leading Delfont to remark that he's got two double acts for the price of one. As the night progresses Stan's feelings of Ollie's betrayal come to the surface after his wife brings up the "elephant movie", resulting in the two having a public argument over the movie contract fiasco that split them up. As Stan unloads his pent-up resentment for what he considers to be a betrayal of their friendship and accuses Ollie of being lazy, Ollie unloads his own pent-up feelings towards Stan, claiming that the two weren't really friends, only being together because Hal Roach studios had paired them up and that Stan never loved him as a friend but only loved Laurel and Hardy. As a result of the argument Ollie leaves the party with his wife, who has in the meantime argued with Stan's wife, leaving Stan alone.

Despite their friendship having taken a blow, they press on with their public appearances, which include judging a beauty contest in the seaside resort of Worthing. Ollie refuses to speak to Stan despite the latter's attempts. Just when they are about to announce the winner, Ollie collapses from a heart attack and is forced into bed rest. Informed two days later that it's unlikely Ollie will get better in time to continue the tour, Delfont suggests having a well-known English comic take Ollie's place. When Stan visits Ollie in his room, Ollie tells Stan that he intends to retire immediately, explaining that a doctor warned him that he must never go onstage again because the strain could be fatal; he and his wife will leave for America as soon as possible. Getting into bed with him to warm Ollie up, Stan asks whether Ollie meant what he said at the party. Both admit that they did not mean what they had said to each other and share a quiet moment together.

On the night of the next show, Stan finds it impossible to work with the English comic Delfont has hired as a substitute due to his simply not being Ollie, and the performance is cancelled, much to Delfont's dismay. When his wife finds him at the bar, Stan confesses to her that he truly does love Ollie as a friend and intends to return to America instead of continuing the tour, though he asks her not to let Ollie know he is leaving. Ollie in turn decides he can't spend the rest of his life idle in bed and leaves his hotel room just before his wife comes back. As they pack, Stan's wife hears a knock on the door; Stan is surprised to see Ollie. The two finally recognize the real fondness that exists between them. And as they silently forgive each other, Ollie smiles and tells Stan they have a show to do, making his friend smile right back; and despite ill health, Ollie performs on stage with Stan, to thunderous applause from the audience. While sailing to Ireland to continue the tour Stan confesses he has deceived Ollie about the prospects of a film even while they continued to work on it. Ollie confesses in turn that he had guessed the truth from Stan's conduct, confusing Stan greatly as he asks why they kept working on the script if Ollie had known the truth for some time, Ollie admitting that working on the script was all they could do. Upon arriving in Ireland, the duo are welcomed by a large crowd of fans, both young and old, the church bells of the town ring out their theme song and they continue to complete the tour to great acclaim from their fans despite Ollie's poor health.

As the film ends, a written epilogue reveals that the tour was the last time they worked together. Ollie's health continued to deteriorate after the tour, leading to his death in 1957; Stan, devastated by his friend's death, refused to work without his partner and went into retirement, dying eight years later in 1965. Stan continued to write sketches for Laurel and Hardy in the last eight years of his life.




Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly were announced in January 2016 as lined up to play the duo in a biopic to be directed by Jon S. Baird.[3] The film was written by Jeff Pope, who had previously collaborated with Coogan on the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Philomena.[4] Pope described the comedy duo as being his "heroes".[5]


Principal UK photography began in spring 2017. It took place in Dudley, in the West Midlands of England, as well as The Black Country Living Museum,[6] the Old Rep theatre Birmingham, the West London Film Studios, and Bristol in South West England.[7] Various locations along the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire were used for the rail sequences.[8]

Filming hours were limited due to Reilly needing four hours in the makeup chair each day.[1]


The film premiered in October 2018 at the BFI London Film Festival. While Entertainment One Films handled distribution in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Benelux, Sony Pictures Classics were given the right to distribute the film in the United States, Latin America, Eastern Europe, China, and South Africa.[9]


Critical response

Following Stan & Ollie's October 2018 debut at the BFI London Film Festival, the film received positive reviews from critics.[10][11][12] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 203 reviews, with an average rating of 7.49/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Stan & Ollie pays tribute to a pair of beloved entertainers with an affectionate look behind the scenes -- and a moving look at the burdens and blessings of a creative bond."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14]

Guy Lodge of Variety wrote: "Portraying Laurel and Hardy's final comic collaboration with bittersweet affection, Jon S. Baird's film is a laid-back, gamely performed tribute."[15] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter had high praise for the lead actors, saying: "Much of the time, you feel like you're beholding the real duo, so thoroughly conceived are the actors' physicality and performances." He concluded: "Everything the film has to offer is obvious and on the surface, its pleasures simple and sincere under the attentive guidance of director Jon S. Baird."[16]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards December 16, 2018 Best Actor John C. Reilly Won [17]
British Academy Film Awards 10 February 2019 Best Actor in a Leading Role Steve Coogan Nominated [18]
Outstanding British Film Jon S. Baird, Faye Ward, Jeff Pope Nominated
Best Makeup and Hair Mark Coulier, Jeremy Woodhead, Josh Weston Nominated
British Independent Film Awards December 2, 2018 Best Actor Steve Coogan Nominated [19]
Best Supporting Actress Nina Arianda Nominated
Best Casting Andy Pryor Nominated
Best Costume Design Guy Speranza Nominated
Best Make Up and Hair Design Mark Coulier and Jeremy Woodhead Nominated
Best Production Design John Paul Kelly Nominated
Breakthrough Producer Faye Ward Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 13 January 2019 Best Actor in a Comedy John C. Reilly Nominated [20]
Golden Globe Awards 6 January 2019 Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy John C. Reilly Nominated [21]
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards December 10, 2018 Best Supporting Actress Nina Arianda Runner-up [22]
Best Costume Design Guy Speranza Nominated
Best Production Design John Paul Kelly Runner-up
Best Body of Work John C. Reilly
(also for The Sisters Brothers & Ralph Breaks the Internet)


  1. Gray, Tim (6 December 2018). "'Stan & Ollie' Director Faced Challenge of Introducing Comedy Duo to Modern Audiences". Variety. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  2. "Stan & Ollie (2018)". The Numbers. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  3. Jaafar, Ali (18 January 2016). "Steve Coogan And John C. Reilly To Star As Stan Laurel And Oliver Hardy In Jon S. Baird's 'Stan & Ollie'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  4. Lee, Benjamin (18 January 2016). "Steve Coogan and John C Reilly to play Laurel and Hardy in biopic". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  5. "Steve Coogan and John C Reilly to star in Laurel and Hardy film". BBC. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  6. "Stan & Ollie - Black Country Living Museum".
  7. Young, Graham (4 April 2017). "Movie Stan and Ollie with Steve Coogan to be filmed in Midlands and you can apply to be in the cast". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  8. Snow, Maia (5 February 2019). "Great Central Railway transformed into movie set for hit film Stan and Ollie". Leicestershire Live. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  9. Kay, Jeremy (9 September 2018). "SPC 'Stan & Ollie' TIFF deal confirmed as distributor picks up 'Maiden'". Screen Daily. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  10. Macnab, Geoffrey (21 October 2018). "Stan & Ollie review, LFF: Insightful and endlessly touching". The Independent. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  11. "John C Reilly deserves an Oscar for Stan & Ollie". Evening Standard. 22 October 2018.
  12. Bradshaw, Peter (21 October 2018). "Stan & Ollie review – melancholy twilight of comedy gods Laurel and Hardy". The Guardian.
  13. "Stan & Ollie (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  14. "Stan & Ollie reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  15. Lodge, Guy (7 November 2018). "London Film Review: 'Stan & Ollie'". Variety. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  16. McCarthy, Todd (7 November 2018). "'Stan & Ollie': Film Review London 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  17. Burr, Ty (16 December 2018). "Boston Society of Film Critics announces winners". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  18. "EE British Academy Film Awards Nominees in 2019". BAFTA. 9 January 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  19. Sheehan, Paul (2 December 2018). "2018 British Independent Film Awards: Full list of winners led by 'The Favourite'".
  20. Nordyke, Kimberley (10 December 2018). "Critics' Choice Awards: 'The Favourite' Leads With 14 Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  21. "2018 Nominees" (PDF). HFPA. November 2018.
  22. "2018 San Diego Film Critics Society's Award Nominations". 7 December 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
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