Steve Coogan has told Sky News that he would rather run the risk of being a called a hypocrite over his new film than stay silent on the issues it highlights.
The comedian plays a fashion tycoon in Greed, which lays bare the disparity in the clothing industry where workers can be paid a pittance to make garments for thriving companies.
Coogan plays Sir Richard McCreadie – a billionaire based on Sir Philip Green – who is celebrating his 60th birthday with a lavish party on the Greek island of Mykonos.
The actor said that while he’s also led a lavish life at times, he’s not bothered about any accusations of double standards.
Coogan told Sky News: “People might do that, might accuse me of hypocrisy and yeah, I’ve certainly had an indulgent lifestyle.
“But, you know, people aren’t one thing and people change, and people can do things that they think ‘I behaved like this, but it wasn’t good, and now…’ The same way people are allowed to change their mind about things.
“You know, we’re not born and keep the same views throughout our lives.”
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The Alan Partridge star said that despite excess in the past, he’s changed.
“I’ve grown up, I’ve evolved, and I’m prepared to run the risk of people accusing me of being hypocritical.
“I think I can defend myself because I think this is important stuff, you know, stuff that was important to me isn’t now.
“And the alternative to that is to just not say anything at all, and the discomfort of people launching broadsides at me is far less unpleasant than the idea of just keeping my mouth shut and saying nothing, that would bother me more.”
While the film’s central character is very much the butt of the joke, Coogan said he does have some sympathy with the man his character is based on.
A controversial retail tycoon, Green was forced to stump up hundreds of millions of pounds to BHS pension schemes after the company’s collapse.
“I think, you know, despite all the accusations levelled against him in the press – he’s someone who I think was outside the establishment and successful in spite of that.
“So there’s a kind of grudging respect, I think, for that to some extent.”
Coogan also said that while Green gave them material for his character in the film, there are others he is equally critical of.
“I think he in some ways is to be applauded for being overt and demonstrative about his success in the way that many of his contemporaries hide their success under a bushel.
“[They] don’t want to attract too much attention in case people start asking difficult questions about their business practices.
“And he’s never been shy in that regard, and so in some ways, I owe him a debt of gratitude for shining a light on what I think are nefarious business practices.”
The movie showed at some of last year’s film festivals so it’s likely the Top Shop owner is well aware of its existence.
Coogan said he’s not heard what Green thinks of it, but that perhaps the businessman will see the bright side.
“Oscar Wilde said didn’t he, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
“I’m sure if he’s nuanced enough he’ll embrace that.”
Greed is out in cinemas in UK cinemas now.
Source : Sky News