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Interview: Steve Coogan talks “Philomena”

It is the film every journalist should see!

After losing his job as a Labour government adviser, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) meets Philomena Lee (Judi Dench).  A woman who recently admitted that 50 years ago she was forced to give up her son in Ireland, because she was not married during her pregnancy.  She has thought of her son every day since she had to give him up, and desperately wants to track him down to just know if he is okay.  Initially not interested in doing a human interest piece, Martin decides he needs the work and takes on the story.

In what happens to be a more comedic team during a tragic situation, Philomena and Martin travel to Washington, DC.  They soon uncover a shocking truth that will have you walking out of the theater with anger and satisfaction.

To no surprise, the performances in the film are exceptional.  Though this is about a serious topic, the real surprise is how you will catch yourself laughing more than crying due to the incredible screenplay written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.  Taking a story that you might normally dread to hear, and turning it into a light-hearted drama with an endearing message.

Based on true events, Philomena is a captivating story about seeking answers, while respecting feelings and truly accepting forgiveness.

Steve Coogan took time to sit down and talk about his new film.


It’s interesting to see the transition of how Martin goes from unsympathetic to more caring of Philomena’s situation.  In your opinion, do you need to lack a certain amount of sympathy to get the answers you want for a story?

“Well, obviously there’s a line isn’t there?  If you just considered not wanting to offend anyone at anytime or upset anyone at anytime, you probably wouldn’t get to the truth. So there’s a case of sometimes having a little, chutzpah in trying to pursue things.  I think you can’t make hard or fast rules, but I think that there are ethics involved.  And it’s a judgment call about what those ethics are.  And I think there are some very tenacious journalists who are in the pursuit of the greater truth and are motivated by that.  Then there are journalists who are just bottom line willing to shift people and are looking to just pay their mortgage.  And that’s understandable, but it doesn’t necessarily make it noble.  So, as I said I think it’s a judgment call.  Martin has struggles with that in the film.  Really, it’s partly about cynicism and how he is cynical and Philomena is not cynical despite what all has happened to her.”

One of my favorite lines Philomena says was, “You should be nice to the people on your way up.  You might meet them on your way down. 

“(Laughs) That line is what my mum said to me once. So I put that in the movie.  But I like the simplicity of the language.  She wasn’t over eloquent; we kept her simple and straight forward.”

That line just stuck with me.  Have you come across with anyone that maybe wasn’t nice to you before your success?

“I have to be very careful (Laughs) because sometimes I think I’m going to see that guy one day.  Especially sometimes there are those people that don’t give me roles that I wanted and thought I could have done.  And I’m like “well they’ll be sorry now” (Laughs).  If you start thinking like that it’s like what Philomena said to Martin at the end of the film.  “I don’t want to go through life hating people.”

Yes, that was another great line!

“Yeah!  And because you know, as we all know, sometimes you get eaten up by that stuff and in trying to seek revenge, the person you destroy more than anyone is yourself.  But it’s ok to recognize it, as long as you recognize the limitation of your feelings and how they are not always right, I think that’s good.  You just need to think out loud about it.”

 Philomena hits theaters November 27th.

Philomena Trailer HD

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