John C. Reilly reveals why he was super intimidated to take on latest role
Actors get paid a fortune to play pretend, which seems to many people like the easiest job in the world. However, some stars put their bodies through the ringer, losing or gaining a remarkable amount of weight to give their performance extra impact. In addition, some roles are emotionally draining, requiring actors to take their minds to dark challenging places.
We've seen many stories about Christian Bale's incredible transformations and Tom Cruise's jaw-dropping stunts. Now John C. Reilly is opening up about the challenges he faced for his latest film. Surprising, right? The actor is best known for his hilarious movies with Will Ferrell (Talladega Nights, Step Brothers), plus starring in Disney's animated comedy franchise Wreck-It-Ralph. What kind of part would frighten him?
In his new film, Stan & Ollie, John C. Reilly plays Oliver Hardy, one half of the legendary comedy double act, Laurel and Hardy. (Steve Coogan plays the other half, Stan Laurel). The entertainers became famous for their slapstick humor during the 1920's through the 1940's - ancient history for today's generation.
Stan & Ollie is a biographical film that pays tribute to the iconic duo, while giving viewers an insightful look behind the scenes. The comedy team embarks on a theatre tour of post-war Britain, an attempt to rejuvenate their film careers that ends up becoming their swan song. Simmering resentment plus serious health issues threaten to break their partnership.
During a 92nd Street Y Q&A, John C. Reilly revealed why he was intimidated to take on the role. "I try to talk my way out of jobs," he explained to Annette Insdorf, as reported by Page Six. "It’s a great way of divining what’s meant to be. To keep the reasons pure, I go, ‘Oh, no, surely not me.’ " But was this character a challenge? "I don’t do impressions, unlike [co-star] Steve Coogan," the Walk Hard star explained. "That, coupled with the fact that I was always in awe of Laurel and Hardy, made it intimidating."
However, Reilly became convinced to take the part when the movie's director, Jon S. Baird, visited him on Fire Island. To make the trip, he had to take a "car, a train, a ferry" plus "a fairly long walk to the beach." If he's willing to endure that journey, he must seriously believe Reilly's perfect for the role.
To play Hardy, Reilly underwent a visual transformation, but not as much as you think. Makeup was used to add weight, but did not alter the bone structure of his face. And researching the comedy team was a delight:
"I was just watching them today, and just laughing out loud in the bathtub with the iPad," the Oscar nominee told Vanity Fair. "The timing is just exquisite! It’s almost like a musical score, the way the gags unfold. So it was a real challenge, but I have to say a very joyful day at work to try to find that sort of work."