STAN & OLLIE
About The Production (Cont'd)
"20 different types of hat"- DRESSING STAN & OLLIE
For STAN & OLLIE, costume designer Guy Speranza and his team created just
costumes to represent both '30s Hollywood and '50s Britain. But there were two
took absolute precedence - the hats and suits that form the unmistakeable and
of Laurel and Hardy.
"Poor Guy," says John C. Reilly. "He must have manufactured 20 different
types of bowler hat to
get the height of the crown or the width of the brim just right because we
couldn't afford to get
that wrong. The image is so iconic."
Speranza's research ensured no detail went unnoticed. Laurel would unstitch
the brim of his hat
- a cross between a bowler and a derby - then cut the brim and re-stitch it to
give it the
appearance of being much taller and thinner. Speranza fashioned a dark suit with
a Norfolk fabric
for Ollie, who wore the jacket with one button done up to accentuate his
stomach. The designer
put Laurel in a light three-piece suit with lots of pockets with shoes without a
heel - Laurel would
remove the heels from his shoes to give him a comedy gait which meant the
trousers were too
long. Speranza was also keen to demonstrate the distinction between fictional
"On stage, Stan in particular was scruffy," he observes. "Ollie was the
smarter one. In real life they
were quite dapper. The biggest thing was trying to give an American feel to
their costume because
their fabrics were much nicer. There's lots of images of them in real life
wearing these berets and
looking quite silly. It was nice to show them in normal life but still with an
element of comedy
There was also the conundrum of using colour in creating the world of the two
actors who so many
only know in black and white
Speranza says "Well the big thing was just seeing them initially, just seeing
them not in black and
white. And introducing color into two very iconic people, comedians that you've
mostly seen in
black and white - trying to get the audience used to seeing them in color. I
spoke to JP at the
beginning, he showed me all the sets and then we worked together with Jon.
There's just so much
information about Stan and Ollie, there are tons and tons of reference, which
really helps. And
then with the locations trying and trying to get their American feel about them,
trying to make
them stick out in an English environment. So, it's a work in progress. I like to
do lots of mood
boards of colors, then for example we tried to keep color for this scene in
Technicolour, and then more green in Ireland, just trying to make certain areas
Speranza's personal most memorable moment is the Way Out West dance "When they
dance, the 'Way Out West' dance on stage because I've watched it on film so many
pause, stop, pause, stop, pause all the time, trying to see all the little
details of what they wore I
actually burst into tears when I saw them do it, I got very emotional. It was
just lovely to see them
doing that dance, I've seen it so many times, seen the actual Stan and Ollie
doing it, and the way
they recreated it was just brilliant, that was one of my favorite moments"
"It really got people's Laurel and Hardy juices flowing"- DESIGNING STAN &
The story of STAN & OLLIE not only covers two distinct time periods but also two
different worlds: the glamour of '30s Hollywood and the somewhat dreary gloom of
It was an exciting challenge for BAFTA award-winning production designer JP
Kelly to bring
these contrasting landscapes visually to life.
"There's a colour palette from the grandeur of '30s Hollywood to the dark
dankness of a rainy day
in Newcastle to London in all its post war recovery splendour. Then there is the
arriving in Ireland, which is like a group hug for the film at the end. Each of
those have to have a
different quality that was really the design brief for how we balanced all those
together and how we showed progression in their journey, and to contrast it of
course with the
1930s and this Hollywood lifestyle which they had which was sunny and shiny and
opposite to a rainy day in Scunthorpe"
To realise the exteriors of Hal Roach studios in its heyday, the production
knew there was only
one location in the UK that fit the bill: Pinewood Studios. The team researched
the films being
made at the Roach Studios during that period - children's franchise THE LITTLE
and augmented this with roman centurions and Egyptian pharaohs, phasing in
cowboys and saloon
girls as Laurel and Hardy approach the WAY OUT WEST stage.
A busy bustling studio, supervising location manager Camilla Stephenson knew
finding a window
at Pinewood to mount the complex scene would be challenging.
"We had to come on Sunday because we would literally have Stormtroopers
walking past," she
laughs. "We still had to change a lot of things to make Pinewood work. A lot of
us out by hiding their equipment. We asked JURASSIC WORLD if they would move a
and they said, 'It's not a container, it's a raptor cage!'"
Kelly elaborates on the challenges of the scene "We really wanted to create a
world that showed
Laurel and Hardy's success but also the excitement and contrast with the world
we end up in for
most of the film, which is in England. Pinewood Studios has very little to do
with Hollywood but
was built around the same time, so architecturally a lot of the buildings are
able to just about pass
as Hollywood studios. We then made set extensions at the end of streets, so you
can see Hollywood
hills in the background and so on. And then the characters arrive at the Way Out
West stage, which
was in Twickenham, where we're meticulously recreating the scene from Way Out
West, which is
where they arrive at the saloon and they do their famous dance. This was a
really fun set to create.
There are really two aspects to it: a saloon bar where we'll have the Avalon
brothers sitting outside
singing and then amazingly at the time, which most people won't have realised
when they watch
the film, that the Way Out West scene of them dancing was shot with a back
projection. And if
you look at it, very carefully you can see a definite line between where they're
projection behind them"
The exciting thing about that backdrop was that the team managed to track
down the very one that
was used in the original shoot! Researcher James Hunt tracked down the original
archive that held
Laurel and Hardy material and was put in touch with Jeff Goodman who works at
Library. Jeff was incredibly helpful, and it turned out that he had been the
archivist who had put
the material into store way back in the day! He knew exactly what we were
looking for sent two
pieces of the original backdrop to ensure the piece could work.
For the studio interiors, a staffroom at the grandiose Eltham Palace in
Greenwich doubled for Stan
and Ollie's dressing room while the WAY OUT WEST set was painstakingly recreated
Twickenham Studios right down to the mule. "It was tough because we wanted to
get it pinpoint
accurate," explains Baird. "If you step back far enough and play them both
together, you would
struggle to see which one was which - that's how we wanted it to be." Also, at
team created a set for a fantasy sequence depicting Stan & Ollie's never made
Robin Hood comedy
ROB 'EM GOOD.
"We purposefully recreated a strange looking Sherwood Forest in keeping with
the Laurel and
Hardy one," laughs Kelly. "It had a river running through it and a huge amount
of greenery, all
completely inappropriate for a forest in the Midlands. As soon as you put actors
in Robin Hood
costumes in the middle of it, it looks like you are in the middle of a
Technicolor epic. It was funny.
We built loads of lovely and elaborate sets, but everyone raved about that set
the most. It really
got people's Laurel and Hardy juices flowing."
When the action switches to Britain, STAN & OLLIE becomes a road movie with
legends travelling the length and breadth of Britain. Similarly, Kelly and
Stephenson combed the
country looking for theatres that were both period-accurate and fit the needs of
the story. Theatres
used included the Old Rep in Birmingham, The Fortune Theatre in London, building
Hackney Empire, which doubled for the Lyceum, the venue for Laurel and Hardy's
London show. As the pair moved around the country, they discovered a similar
"We'd go to a theatre and they'd say, 'Laurel and Hardy performed here, we've
even got a poster'"
says Stephenson. "They were absolutely across all these rep theatres."
The Britain that Laurel & Hardy tour is a landscape of run-down boarding
houses, and cheap-and-cheerful
lidos. Kelly wanted to accentuate the contrast of two Hollywood legends amidst
austerity, especially in the North of England. But the team were wary of
straying too far into
traditional British film territory.
"There is a certain expectation with British film for it to be grimy, for the
pace to be a bit slower
and for it to be real," says Baird. "It had to be true to the 50s but it had to
match up tonally to the
whole film. We've not overly designed anything. Things are rubbed down a little
bit but it doesn't
come out like social realism. We wanted it to make it feel like Britain but also
not to depart too
much from the tone of the film."
When the action reaches London, much of the drama unfolds in the Savoy Hotel.
utilised the hotel exteriors but recreated the foyer and restaurant at the Park
Lane and the rooms at
West London Studios. Although not completely historically accurate, Kelly
carried the Art Deco
stylings of the Park Lane into the interior rooms to add a touch of opulence
Laurel and Hardy were on the up.
"What was grand in the fifties isn't so grand by today's standards," says
Kelly. "In reality the
Savoy's rooms were modest compared to today. There is a balance between
and contemporary audience expectations of what a big hotel looks and feels like.
At the end of the
day, we are storytellers so that has to be the key consideration."
Faye Ward recalls "One of the most memorable days was when we recreated Cobh
Ireland. We couldn't actually go to Cobh Harbor, so we cheated it in Bristol
Harbor, 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
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 such a special day and JP and Guy did an
exemplary job, it
was a very special day and I am sure that will come across in the film"
This moment of Laurel and Hardy receiving the warmest welcome in Ireland also
the Dublin born Kelly.
"My uncle had seen them in Dublin in the 1950s," says the Ireland-born
designer. "I've always
known that story. He's in his '90s. He's delighted about that."
'Delight' is a notion that comes up a lot discussing STAN & OLLIE. For Jeff
Pope, it is the heart
of the WAY OUT WEST, the simple scene of two men dancing just for the joy of it,
"You just sit there and laugh about how much they love being together and how
they can take
enjoyment in such simple things. I think that is why they are still so loved. We
can look at them
and think: 'You know what? It doesn't take a lot to get happy.' We complicate it
too much now. If
you look back at them, they can get happy so easily."
It is this bright innocence that resonates with Faye Ward. For her, it is one
of the reasons STAN &
OLLIE, a film about legends from the golden age of Hollywood, is a film for
"We are in a place and time where people are pretty scared of life," she
says. "Watching their
routines is just so heartwarming. There is a pure joy, an innocence to what they
bring which I think
is really great and fun for audiences today. Half the audience are crying and
then laughing just
because it is incredibly clever but simple at the same time. It's so lovely and
actually I think we
really need a bit of that at the minute."
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