Brydon and Steve Coogan play versions of themselves in the food-oriented franchise.

By Clark Collis
May 21, 2020 at 06:25 PM EDT
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ANDY HALL/IFC Films

As film franchises go, it's hard to imagine one that looks more pleasurable to make than The Trip, which began with the 2010 movie and continued with three sequels: 2014's The Trip to Italy, 2017's The Trip to Spain, and now The Trip to Greece. In each of the films, British actors Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey) and Steve Coogan (Philomena) play competitive, and at times grotesque, versions of themselves while traveling around and dining at high-end restaurants. Given the seemingly enjoyable nature of the enterprise, why have the two stars decided that the new film will be their last trip together — or at least, the last one they will take in front of director Michael Winterbottom's cameras?

"I was surprised it went as far as four — or as far as one, to be honest with you," Brydon tells EW. "I think it’s a feeling of wanting to quit while we’re ahead. It just felt like an ending."

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ROB BRYDON: Michael Winterbottom does all that. Steve and I, we really do just turn up and color in the outline that Michael creates. He decides the country, the story — such as it is — he decides the literary references, so in this case Odysseus. That’s all Michael. I always feel when I talk to journalists, they sound slightly disappointed that we were not more involved in the thinking of it and that we don’t have specifically good memories of the meals. It’s really him, and then we step in and perform.

Oh. See, my next question was going to be, "What’s the most memorable meal you had on this trip?"

[Laughs] The thing with the meals is, yes, in many ways it’s glorious, and my memories of it are of a wonderful time, particularly now in the situation we’re in. They’re memories of this wonderful travel where, importantly, everything is curated for you, so you really don’t have to think, you just drink in the experience. But nonetheless there is the creative work to be done, the coming up with interesting and funny things to say in the improvised moments, of which there are many. When it comes to the meals, I always have to rack my brains because while we’re eating the meals, we are inventing material. So, for most of the time I’m sitting there thinking, "What am I going to say next?"

What is the difference between the Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan we see in these movies and what you are like in real life?

The biggest difference is we’re not combative. I don’t niggle at him. We don’t sit around doing impressions. All of that is just looking for comic constructs, looking for conflict and drama and comedy. In The Trip [films] I’m constantly sort of undermining him and mocking his achievements, whereas the reality is I would say, "Tell me about this" or "What happened when you did this?" That’s usually what we do. Because he’s always been off traveling and doing something, so he’ll tell me about that. It’s just not niggly. And this idea of arguing about who does the best impressions, neither of us could care less. So it’s just far calmer. We talk about middle-aged, middle-class things.

That’s very disappointing, Rob, I've got to say.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the film now seems like its from a completely different time.

I know, it really does.

Do you think this is the best time or the worst time to be releasing this film?

I think it depends if you’re a glass-half-full or half-empty person, I suppose. If you’re a glass-half-full person, you'll say, "Fantastic!" and if you’re not you’ll say, "I don’t want to see that." But yeah, it gives it a whole other angle. You don’t even have to to look at something like this; I only have to look at photos on my phone where I’m stood with a few other people indoors and they strike me as peculiar. I would like to think that one of the reasons people may want to watch this is simply the sheer escapism of it. I do think of the four of them this is definitely the prettiest to look at.

The Trip to Greece will be released May 22 in select theaters and on Digital and VOD.

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