Exclusive: Steve Coogan to star Penguin lessonwith The Full MontyPeter Cattaneo to direct the Jeff Pope-scripted adaptation of the Tom Michell non-fiction bestseller.
Management/production company 42 partners Rory Aitkin and Ben Pugh will produce alongside Robert Wallack. Rocket Science is handling international sales and CAA Media Finance will launch the film at EFM with US distribution rights repping.
Penguin Lessons is the true story of a disillusioned Englishman who goes to work in a school in Argentina in 1976. Expecting an easy ride, he instead discovers a complex and divided race – and in reality a class of uneducated young men. When he finds a little penguin on an oiled beach, his life is turned upside down – and the penguin becomes not only a precious friend, but also a teacher of life’s most important lessons to Tom, the boys and many others.
“From the moment we read Tom Michell’s book we were captivated by the true story of the unlikely bond between a man and a penguin,” said 42 partners Aitken & Pugh. “The master of true story adaptation for the screen, Jeff Pope, has written a captivating screenplay set against the backdrop of political unrest and strife that Tom must navigate with his feathered companion. We couldn’t imagine a better casting than Steve Coogan, one of the finest actors working today. And of course the brilliant Oscar-nominated director Peter Cattaneo who we’re thrilled to be working with again.”
Cattaneo said he was inspired by the story’s “visceral setting of the Argentine political conflict of the late 70s and a man’s unexpected bond with a penguin in his heart”.
Coogan and longtime collaborator Jeff Pope previously teamed on the Stephen Frears-directed Philomena and then The Lost King and To Catch a King. Coogan said he was “thrilled to work with Jeff, Pete and 42 on a story about fascism, love and penguins!”
Coogan recently played serial sex offender Jimmy Saville in the controversial BBC One drama The Reckoning and will next be heard in Despicable Me 4 for Universal Pictures. In addition to The Full Monty, Cattaneo’s films include Opal Dream, The Rocker and Military Wives of Bleecker Street starring Sharon Horgan and Kristin Scott Thomas. On television, Cattaneo directed the Amazon original flick The Magpie Murders starring Anna Paquin, Leslie Manville, and the Paramount+ series The Flatshare, the latter produced by 42.
Rocket Science adds to an EFM slate that includes Alex Winter’s The Adults starring Evan Rachel Wood, Josh Gad and Anthony Carrigan; Conor McPherson’s Girl from the North Country stars Chloe Bailey, Tosin Cole, Olivia Colman and Woody Harrelson; Michael Gracie’s Better Man; and Peter Farrelly’s Ricky Stanicky starring Zac Efron and John Cena which Amazon Prime recently acquired.
Coogan is repped by CAA and Independent Talent Group. Cattaneo is repped by UTA and 42. Pope is repped by WME and United Agents.