English actor Steve Coogan is perhaps best known for his comedic roles in movies like Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013), Night at the Museum (2006), and The Trip series (2010 – 2017), in which he plays a fictionalized version of himself. However, it was Coogan’s 2013 drama, Philomena, which he produced, co-wrote, and starred in, that earned him two Academy Award® nominations, proving the star is more than just a comedian. For his latest outing, Coogan returns to the big screen in his fifth collaboration with filmmaker Michael Winterbottom in the fashion industry satire Greed, opening at Regal on March 6th.
Greed stars Steve Coogan as self-made British billionaire Sir Richard McCreadie, whose retail empire and 30-year rule of the fashion industry is jeopardized after a damaging public inquiry. To save his reputation, McCreadie decides to throw a highly publicized and extravagant 60th Birthday party on the Greek island of Mykonos. The movie traces the rise and fall of the business tycoon through the eyes of his biographer, Nick (David Mitchell), in a satirical look at the inequality of wealth in the fashion industry.
Writer/director Michael Winterbottom enters this complex world through a character who has experience maneuvering it across multiple decades as a very hands-on actor in the industry. McCreadie provides the audience with a glimpse of the inner workings of a retail empire, but despite the serious subject matter, Winterbottom uses humor to get the message across.
“McCreadie, to me, was someone who could bring together quite large, different strands of how the world has changed in the last 30 years – he’s a man of his time,” says Winterbottom. “And one of the attractions was that you could draw together various different strands – whether it’s women workers in Sri Lanka, or dodgy business deals, or leveraged takeovers on the British high street – from the point of view of one fictional character.”
Steve Coogan as Sir Richard McCreadie in Greed (2020)
Inspired and challenged by taking on the role of McCreadie, Steve Coogan approached the character as he often does, from the outside in. This meant starting with the external as a means to drill down to the psychological.
“When I assemble a character,” says Coogan, “I use the external things to try and find a way into the character, because the physical stuff can help you worm your way inside the character’s psychology. I like to latch onto physical aspects, such as the way the character dresses.”
A great example of this approach is McCreadie’s overly white teeth, which Coogan refers to as a “predilection of the super rich,” something with a quite obvious comedic effect when contrasted against the character’s bronze tan.
“So all of the physical stuff helps,” says Coogan. “You throw it all into the mix, and hopefully you come up with something that feels plausible and interesting.”
Coogan has definitely had a great deal of success crafting “plausible and interesting” characters throughout his career. In anticipation of his latest performance in Greed, we count down the top 5 Steve Coogan roles of all time.
Night at the Museum (2006)
Steve Coogan entertains as the miniature Roman general Octavius whose feud with the Old West civilization’s diminutive cowboy leader, Jedediah (Owen Wilson), will have you wishing for a spin-off movie. Their quips may be few and far between as their roles are not very large, but they steal each scene they appear in.
4. Phileas Fogg
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
Passepartout (Jackie Chan) and Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan) in Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
Coogan took on Jules Verne's famous literary character Phileas Fogg from the1873 novel, and subsequent 1956 movie, in this 2004 action-adventure comedy. Jackie Chan starred as Passepartout opposite Coogan’s Fogg in a memorable pairing that continues to entertain with its physical comedy and verbal sparring.
3. Alan Partridge
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)
Coogan’s parody of British television personalities began as a BBC Radio 4 comedy program and grew into a BBC sitcom, parody memoirs, and a feature-length movie. This inept broadcaster’s inflated sense of celebrity leads to some hilarious scenes, and Vanity Fair has gone so far as to name the character a British national treasure.
2. Martin Sixsmith
This 2014 Academy Award® Best Picture nominee, based on a true story, stars Coogan as the London-based journalist Martin Sixsmith who aids Philomena Lee in her 50-year search for her forcibly adopted son. This drama represents a shift from Coogan’s more comedic roles, but the actor’s versatility shined through in the movie that was critically acclaimed and received international awards.
1. Sir David Ershon
The Other Guys (2010)
Detective Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell), Sir David Ershon (Steve Coogan), and Detective Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) in The Other Guys (2010)
Much like his role in the upcoming Greed, Coogan plays multi-billionaire Sir David Ershon in a similar parody of the super rich. Ershon’s attempts to maintain his celebrity status and save face with the business elite prove a futile gesture as all comes crashing down via two inept cops, played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who seize their chance to be the heroes.
Catch Steve Coogan in what could be his next great performance in Michael Winterbottom’s satirical comedy Greed, coming to Regal this Friday, March 6th.