Steve Coogan on Playing Steve Coogan, Impersonating Every Other Actor In the U.K.

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As discussed in his new Slate interview, Steve Coogan has on multiple occasions, most recently in The Trip, played “Steve Coogan,” an arrogant prig who the comedian reassures America is merely an exaggeration of his natural persona. “I come up as slightly too precious and pretentious, and though there’s some truth to that, I’m not as po-faced and neurotic and anxious as I come across in the film,” Coogan explains. “I’m a bit more laid back and don’t take myself quite so seriously. So I exaggerated that.” Personally, I prefer to imagine Coogan as having more in common with his roller-skating drama teacher in Hamlet 2, particularly in his insistence that everybody has rain gutters. As for the spot-on impersonations Coogan and co-star Rob Brydon volley back and forth over their apéritifs (Michael Caine, Billy Connolly, a loop of sneering Bond villains), the Tristam Shandy star explains that pretending to be someone else is…somewhat beneath him, unless of course that person is himself. “I think it’s trivial, and when you sort of want to be taken seriously or show that you have substance to your comedy and that you’re creative, then doing voices like that is just like a party trick, nothing more than that,” Coogan declares. “I find impressionists slightly annoying, really. I mean they’re sort of fascinating but I don’t find them particularly funny, even though I can do it.”