The really unmissible film to see over the Thanksgiving weekend is certainly Philomena. It has everything: Old people (especially an enchanting Judi Dench) for mom and dad; a gay subplot for you; humor, tears and the structure of a detective novel. And it’s all thanks to Steve Coogan.
Coogan is a familiar face whose name you probably don’t know, appearing, as he says, “as Part No. 4 in someone else’s movie.” But the British comedian has also written some funny stuff, including The Trip, which you should check out if you haven’t already.
Coogan co-wrote and co-stars in Philomena, and sat down with us when he was in Dallas earlier this month to talk about how he discovered the true story of BBC reporter Martin Sixsmith and his travels in helping an elderly Irish woman (Dench) find the son she gave up for adoption.
Dallas Voice: How did you find this story? Steve Coogan: I was just treading water [in my acting career], so I was looking for a project that was different for me — and outside comedy, because I wanted to do more nuanced stuff. No one was giving me a break, so I decided to create a break for myself. [I happened upon a magazine article about Philomena], and I thought I could turn it into some kind of drama.
You play Martin, a disgraced BBC reporter who’s quite cynical when he agrees to take on this “human interest profile” and gets transformed by Philomena in unexpected ways. Did you understand him? Yes. They say write what you know about, and I felt a connection to Martin — a liberal intellectual – but I also knew who Philomena was: A working class Irish woman. And her story could have happened to anyone. And I liked the idea of showing that older people were once young people. There were lots of reasons I felt connected to it.