It was dueling Michael Caine impressions, both on screen and in person, when British comedy stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon got together at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York Thursday night for a screening of their new film, “The Trip.”
In “Trip,” the two, who’ve collaborated previously on British television projects, play versions of themselves. “I’m not quite as malcontented as I appear there,” clarified Coogan in a post-screening Q&A session, “and Rob’s not as much of a lightweight. There’s a kernel of truth and a lot of hyperbole.”
The largely improvised comedy was directed by Michael Winterbottom (“A Mighty Heart”) and aired as a 6-part TV series on BBC Two in England last year. (The film version was screened last fall at the Toronto Film Festival).
On screen, Coogan and Brydon embark on a one-week road trip through the north of England to chow down on gourmet fare at upscale restaurants and inns and to visit the homes of 19th century British poets Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth.
Several times in the film, they launch into and argue over their vocal imitations of veteran British star Michael Caine. Brydon contends that Caine speaks more slowly and from the back of his throat now that he has gotten older, while Coogan maintains that the secret to a good Caine is to speak through one’s nose and yell periodically.
At a post-screening Q&A, an audience member asked the men whether they knew Caine. Coogan said that he had met Caine once, briefly, at a tony restaurant where the older star was dining with Roger Moore and singer Shirley Bassett. Brydon said he’d once been at a party that Caine attended and that he had done his best to eavesdrop as Sir Michael spoke with others.
“He was actually talking, the whole night, about the local council’s inability to clear his rubbish bins,” Brydon said, then launched into Sir Michael kevtching, “You put the bins out bloody Tuesday and they’re still there on Saturday!”
“The Trip,” with IFC Entertainment as its distributor, opens in the U.S. on June 11.