Steve Coogan is known for his seminal character: Alan Partridge. He even mocked the disparity of popularity between his work with a live show entitled ‘Steve Coogan Live - As Alan Partridge And Other Less Successful Characters.'

Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Dame Judy Dench and Stephen FrearsSteve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Dame Judy Dench and Stephen Frears at the Venice Film Festival

With such a well-known character, indeed, Partridge is one of the U.K’s most popular comedy creations; it’s difficult to break free of the comedy mould. Especially when you’ve just been all over the big screen in a comedy feature. But Coogan was striving for something more than making people laugh.

"You get strait-jacketed. I love doing comedy but I've done it. You get hungry for something more,” he explained. "This [project] touched me and spoke to me, with regards to my own background as a Catholic. And I thought the story was very universal." (Digital Spy)

Coogan wrote, produced and stars in new movie Philomena. The film sees Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) search for her son after Irish nuns forced through his adoption. Journalist Martin Sixmith (Coogan) helps her in her quest. For the comedy actor, Dench presented an intimidating on-screen partner. "I thought, 'I'd better pull my socks up, I'd better bring my 'A' game, be as good as I can possibly be, or I'll be dwarfed by her presence'".

Steve CooganCoogan always looks like he's trying not to tell a joke

The early reviews from the Venice film festival would suggest Philomena is a success. The Telegraph say in their review, in which they awarded the film 5-stars, “Coogan and Pope’s script tenderises you with keenly judged comic asides before landing its big, emotional body-blows, and just as you are writing off a scene at a breakfast buffet as a bit of light relief, it suddenly becomes one of the film’s most affecting moments.”