While American audiences are only now getting a taste of the talents of Steve Coogan, over in his native U.K. the actor/comedian has been killing it for years. And it all started with his comic creation Alan Partridge. The character became a sensation with British audiences, and while to try and describe him without having actually seen it is an exercise in futility — he’s a consistently lame, earnestly insecure yet narcissitic talk show host — he spawned two radio series, three TV stints, a book and more. And while Coogan moved on to other characters since, including Tommy Saxondale and a dark version of himself in “The Trip” (more on that in a second), Alan Patridge is coming back. He’s currently back in the form of a new webseries “Mid Morning Matters” and the much talked about feature film is around the corner.
In the works for a while, Coogan revealed last year that his longtime friends and collaborators Pete Baynham (“Borat“) and Armando Ianucci (“Into The Loop“) were working on the screenplay. Well, Coogan was recently profiled in an excellent piece in the Hollywood Issue of Vanity Fair (print edition, not online) and revealed that it will go in front of cameras this summer for a 2013 release and even more, he teased a bit about the plot. “…there’s quite a large event in a small town. And Alan is not the protagonist. He’s…an unwilling participant.” The project is currently without a studio or production company, but given the popularity of the character, landing a deal likely won’t be a problem and it has allowed Coogan, Baynham and Ianucci to work on it without any interference. “It’s been great when Armando and Steve and I have been together,” Coogan said. “Everyone’s laughing, everyone’s doing Alan. Three Alans in a room — torture, really.”
But that’s not the only character Coogan will be returning to. He also made waves with Rob Brydon on both sides of the Atlantic last year with “The Trip,” a witty, surprisingly moving account of two men touring restaurants in England, while slowly peeling back the layers of each other’s personality. It’s raw and unbelievably hilarious stuff and a followup set in Italy, with Michael Winterbottom returning to direct, is already in the works. And while there is no timeline yet for when it might shoot, Coogan says this time the duo would be “retracing the steps of Shelley and Byron, with all the attendant pompousness and portent.” Sounds great.
Oh, and here’s some “The Trip” trivia. Remember the extended dream sequence with Coogan making it Hollywood, and Ben Stiller opening the golden gates of opportunity? Coogan wanted the sequence to conclude with his “albatross” Michael Sheen being revealed to be the one getting the opportunties. “Like I’m not even good enough to be cast as myself in my own dream,” Coogan explained.
More Coogan is always a great thing, and it seems the best is yet to come. Check out the full profile of the actor in Vanity Fair, on newsstands now.