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Steve Coogan

Steve Coogan

Born in Middleton, Greater Manchester, England, Coogan was one of six children raised in a working-class Catholic family. As a member of such a large brood - which also included several foster children throughout the years - Coogan struggled for attention by entertaining his parents, Tony, an IBM engineer, and Kathleen, a housewife, with impersonations of teachers and family members. Graduating to reciting chunks of Monty Python and mimicking public figures like Margaret Thatcher, Coogan brought his inherent talents to train as an actor at the Manchester Polytechnic School. To earn his Equity card, Coogan performed standup comedy which helped perfect his gift for dead-on impersonations of celebrities and world leaders. Coogan began putting his voice talents to work on "Spitting Image" (ITV1, 1984-86), a satirical show that recreated famous characters from British life into grossly exaggerated puppets. This led to being spotted by a talent scout, after which he did impressions on such British shows as "First Exposure," "A Word in Your Era" and "Paramount City."In 1992, Coogan created his most famous and beloved character - the ignorant, arrogant and combed-over Alan Partridge. At the time, Coogan was on Radio 4's "On the Hour," a mock radio show that posed as a news program. Asked by the show's producer, Armando Iannucci, to do the voice of a sportscaster, Coogan just opened his mouth and out came Alan Partridge. The character soon developed into an audience favorite loved for his lame puns and non-sequiturs. Coogan turned Partridge into a million dollar franchise, spinning off the character into its own radio show, "Knowing Me, Knowing You," which was later turned into the mock television talk show "Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge" (BBC, 1994-95) A second series followed with "I'm Alan Partridge" (BBC, 1997-2002), which depicted the fictional character after his talk show gets taken away from him.Coogan segued into movies, playing the role of Tommy in "The Indian in the Cupboard" (1995). He next landed the lead in "The Wind in the Willows" (1997), a live-action children's tale about the adventures of Mole and his pal Rat. In "The Parole Officer" (2001), Coogan starred as an honest but naïve parole officer who is framed for murder by a crooked cop. Co-written with business partner, Henry Normal, with whom he formed Baby Cow Productions, the film went on to become one of the UK's top grossing films of that year. Off this success, Coogan was cast as Tony Wilson, the ambitious and charismatic music manager who helps put the Manchester scene on the map in "24 Hour Party People" (2002). The unconventional biopic was a hit at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, with special kudos going to Coogan for his performance.Coogan further raised his profile with "Around the World in 80 Days," where he played the eccentric London inventor, Phileas Fogg, who makes a bet to circumnavigate the globe in only 80 days. He also appeared as himself in Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee and Cigarettes" (2004), a series of vignettes where several real-life characters talk about random topics over coffee and cigarettes. He then appeared in the low-budget ensemble comedy, "Happy Endings" (2005), playing a gay restaurateur, and father to the son of his stepsister, who convinces his lover (David Sutcliffe) to donate sperm to a pair of lesbian friends (Laura Dern and Sarah Clarke). He next starred in "Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story" (2005), a satirical adaptation of Laurence Sterne's 18th-century novel about an obnoxious Englishman who narrates his entire life, starting with his own conception. Directed by Michael Winterbottom, "Tristram Shandy" veers towards the present day, revealing a film crew quarrelling over how to film the supposedly unadaptable novel, with Coogan playing a variation of himself.Following a small part as the miniature Roman emperor Octavius in "Night at the Museum" (2006), he made an appearance as the Austrian diplomat Ambassador Mercy in Sofia Coppola's divisive take on "Marie Antoinette" (2006). After a cameo in the uproarious comedy "Hot Fuzz" (2007), Coogan returned to British television with "Saxondale" (BBC America, 2006-07), playing a divorced former roadie with anger management issues who runs a pest control business while excelling at alienating everyone around him. Coogan next delivered a fine comic performance as an argumentative psychotherapist in a season six episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000-), then returned to the feature world to play a frustrated director making a war film who dumps his three self-absorbed stars (Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr.) in the jungle to get a real taste of war in "Tropic Thunder" (2008). He then starred as a failed actor turned high school drama teacher who stages a politically incorrect musical sequel to William Shakespeare's most complex play in "Hamlet 2" (2008). In 2009, Coogan turned up in the biting political comedy "In the Loop" and reprised his role as Octavius in "Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian." Sticking to Hollywood fare, he portrayed the Greek god Hades in "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (2010) and a scheming corporate executive in the cop comedy "The Other Guys" (2010), starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. The following year, Coogan reteamed with Winterbottom and "Tristram Shandy" co-star Rob Brydon for "The Trip," a comedic travelogue project that was released as both a BBC TV series and an edited-down film. He played a caddish Brit amidst Americans in the thoughtful ensemble comedy "Our Idiot Brother" (2011) and took on a similar role, albeit in a more dramatic setting, for "What Maisie Knew" (2012), co-starring Julianne Moore. Coogan finally brought Partridge to the big screen in 2013, with the well-received movie "Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa," allowing for a fitting nod to his early career. In a change of pace, Coogan's next film found him playing a serious role: in the fact-based drama "Philomena" (2013), which he also co-wrote, he played Martin Sixsmith, a British journalist helping an elderly Irish woman find the son she had been forced to give up for adoption 50 years before. Coogan and co-screenwriter Jeff Pope were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Coogan returned to the big screen in the sequel "The Trip To Italy" (2014), reuniting with Winterbottom and Brydon for a second British TV series that was again re-edited into an international film. He followed this with the music drama "Northern Soul" (2014), set in the 1970s scene where British working-class teens discovered classic '60s American soul records. Along with revisiting his role as Octavius in "Night at the Museum:S ecret of the Tomb" (2014), Coogan became familiar to children around the world through his voice work in "Despicable Me 2" (2013) and its sequels "Minions" (2015) and "Despicable Me 3" (2017), as well as another animated hit from the same studio, "The Secret Life of Pets" (2016). Coogan also starred in apartheid drama "Shepherds and Butchers" (2016) and appeared in Warren Beatty's Old Hollywood romance "Rules Don't Apply" (2016). He co-starred and executive produced the British comedy "Mindhorn" (2016) before co-starring opposite Richard Gere in the thriller "The Dinner" (2017).
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