Steve Coogan has told Sky News it feels strange to be away promoting his latest film following the death of the Queen.
The star has been at the Toronto Film Festival for the world premiere of The Lost King, which he stars in, produces and also co-wrote.
“It’s a very odd feeling,” he said.
“I only found out about the sad news of the death of our Queen when our plane landed, so it is very odd.
“It does feel strange, surreal to not be, you know, in Britain at the moment.
“There is a sort of a universal respect for the Queen, I think, that crosses all the normal divisions in Britain with regard to all the things, the great work she did and the dedication over 70 years.
“From the age of 25 to 96 she subjugated herself to the service of our country and I think it is a sort of a strange moment, a defining moment for Britain.
“And like I say, uniquely I think, her status has a widespread respect, but I’m going back (to the UK) tomorrow night, so I’ll be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow countrymen.”
‘Hideous, evil, nefarious figure’
The lost king that the film’s title refers to is King Richard III, whose remains were found in a Leicester car park in 2012.
But Coogan says the movie is really about the amateur historian Philippa Langley, who led the search for the monarch but was later side-lined when others took the credit.
“Of course I knew Richard III like most people do from Shakespeare’s play – this hideous, evil, nefarious figure,” he explained.
“But it was Philippa Langley’s story that I found compelling, and the marriage of her struggle and the fact that she was judged harshly and that Richard III, historically, has been judged quite harshly.
‘A David and Goliath story’
“And so really, to me, it was her journey as an amateur, it’s sort of a David and Goliath story of her pursuing her intuition and her instincts with a sort of intellectual tenacity, and she was vindicated – it’s her story as much as Richard’s, really.”
The movie was directed by Stephen Frears, whose 2006 film The Queen is one of the best-known dramatised versions of Queen Elizabeth, depicted by Helen Mirren, who won awards for the role.
He admitted not knowing how the monarch felt about the movie, telling Sky News “she never gave me notes”.
For The Lost King, Coogan and Frears were also reunited with writer Jeff Pope – the trio last teamed up for Philomena in 2013.
The drama was given the People’s Choice Award Runner-Up prize at that year’s Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for four Oscars.
Telling other people’s stories
Coogan said he finds pleasure in telling other people’s stories.
“It’s much easier to, rather than looking for sort of a vehicle for myself, to be a writer, producer and try and tell other people’s stories.
“We’re quite privileged, Jeff [Pope] and I, who are two white middle-aged men, to get to tell a woman’s story, which we did in Philomena.
“And there are sort of similarities in the story of Philippa Langley in The Lost King in that’s it’s also a story of a middle-aged woman’s struggle to find her voice, and so there’s a great deal of satisfaction in pursuing a project like that rather than some sort of vanity project.”
The Lost King is due for release in cinemas in the UK on 7 October.