John C Reilly feels he's been preparing to play Oliver Hardy his ''whole life''.

The 53-year-old actor has admitted he relished portraying the silent comedy star in 'Stan & Ollie', which also stars fellow comic actor Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel.

He explained: ''I have been preparing for that role my whole life. Ever since I started watching Oliver Hardy.''

The new movie focuses on the fortunes of the comedy duo - who became well-known figures during the 1920s - after their fame and popularity had peaked.

John told Metro US: ''The main focus of that story is their last theatrical tour in England, Ireland and Scotland.

''We shot most of it, pretty much everything in England, places like Brighton, Bristol, old towns like that, and London.''

John often forms part of a double act in his on-screen roles, and the American star - who also appears alongside Will Ferrell in the upcoming 'Holmes & Watson' movie - admitted he is perfectly suited to the particular dynamic.

He said: ''I have been really lucky, it is not just that I am drawn to duos - it is that audiences are drawn to duos. There are a lot of duo things out there.

''I have been lucky to get to work with some really talented partners in all of those films.''

John also admitted that starring in a double act lessens the pressure on himself.

He quipped: ''It shares the workload everyday. And if things go south it isn't all your fault - that's another benefit.''