The Life And Opinions Of A Premiere

A Cock And Bull Story unfolds.

The Life And Opinions Of A Premiere

by Willow Green |
Published on

It was an occasion for something slightly different last night, as for the premiere of A Cock And Bull Story, the venue was not the traditional Leicester Square, but the stained wood, brass railed surrounds of the cinemas in Haymarket. Appropriate really, as this isn't you traditional film, traversing as it does two stories in two different centuries.

Yes, it's the latest film from Michael Winterbottom, the UK's most unpredictable filmmaker, which boasts an outstanding and lengthy cast list – many of who were along to celebrate the event – headed by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. "I'm really excited, yeah," said Coogan. "This is probably the main one – even though we've taken it to some festivals already, like Toronto, New York, and London."

Co-star James Fleet, all smiles, offered "I'm very much looking forward to this evening – I think I'm the only person in the audience who hasn't seen it already. If there's raucous laughter during the show, it'll be from me, because I can't believe they've left that bit in." Not so for the lovely Ashley Jensen, who before revealing that she knew less about the next series of Extras than everyone else, told us " Am I looking forward to tonight? Absolutely – well I've seen it before, so I know how good it is."

Which is no exaggeration. It's one of the most consistently funny and intelligent Brit comedies since, well, Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People, which also featured Coogan, and even had Brydon turning up in a small role. Getting much more time to work with the director this timer out, Brydon summed up working with him "[Michael's] great as a director, because he lets you get on with it… he just sets the scene, and that's lovely, very relaxed –" before sensing Coogan over his shoulder, "unlike Steve – a very difficult man with a lot of issues."

Winterbottom himself was as pleasantly reserved as ever. He offered promising news when, interested to know the process of editing such a complex and scatological story, we asked him about the length of the first cut. "I don't know, because we messed around a lot with the story. But we only had six weeks to film, so it's not as though we had masses and masses of material – but we did have about an hour and a half of DVD extras – referred to in the film. It's just like the book in a way, those digressions are just as important as the main story, so hopefully that'll be longer and even more entertaining than the final film."

There's also the question of the great double act. With echoes of Cook and Moore, there's a big brother-little brother dynamic evident in so many great – particularly British – comedic parings, and catching it in a largely improvised performance is like catching lightning in a bottle. Coogan again "It's great working with Rob, Rob's a very funny guy, we had a blast shooting it, and the general reaction seems to be that it's good, and it's funny, so it's far better than going along trying to pretend that you like something that you’re not quite sure about."

Cast and crew have good reason to be proud of their film, with their hard work and faith in the story already paying dividends, with a strong positive reaction from critics in the US. Brydon answered "Yeah, it's interesting. We've been to New York, and L.A. with it, and to Canada, and it plays differently over there, because they don't know the people in it – they don't recognise anyone in it, and that can lend it a kind of exoticism. You know – 'it's something from another country', so it gets a slightly different reaction overseas."

"That surprised me a little bit," Coogan elaborated, "but on the East and West coasts of America, there's a real Anglophile sense of humour. I'm still not quite sure how the public will react. In America, I think there'll be a small, sort of trendy cult following for it. But here there's a chance to reach a wider audience."

Which brought us around to the evening's event. "We're all very happy with it; when you've done something that you're proud of, this part of it is a pleasure," offered Brydon. "You come along and you don’t have to lie! So I'm just coming along and enjoying it," while Coogan swatted down the 'big brother' image with a closing compliment before heading up to introduce the film: "It's great to have a film that I believe is a good film, and I'm proud of it. It's great working with Rob, Rob's a very funny guy, we had a blast shooting it; the general reaction seems to be that it's good, and it's funny, and that's far better than going along trying to pretend that you like something that you’re not quite sure about."

The only drawback to the evening was that – marvellous company as everybody is – we missed out on talking to the delightful Naomie Harris. But then Pirates 2 isn't that far away…

A photo gallery of the evening's events will be available soon.

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