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Pathé Defends ‘The Lost King’ After University Employee Portrayed in Steve Coogan Film Sues Over ‘Arrogant Villain’ Depiction

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Pathé has defended its 2022 film “The Lost King” — starring Steve Coogan and produced by his company Baby Cow Productions — after legal action was launched by the one of the real-life characters it depicts.

Richard Taylor, a former deputy registrar at the U.K.’s University of Leicester, is suing Coogan, alongside his BBC Studios-owned Baby Cow, and Pathé Productions over his depiction in the feature, which chronicles the story of how the remains of British monarch King Richard III were eventually discovered in Leicester in 2012.

On Thursday, Taylor’s lawyer told London’s High Court that the character based on him (played by Lee Ingleby) was “dismissive, patronising and misogynistic” toward the historian Philippa Langley (Sally Hawkins), according to the BBC.

“Ms Langley is portrayed as the gutsy underdog heroine struggling against opposition and the claimant as the arrogant villain,” wrote Taylor’s lawyer. “He not only takes steps to make sure that people do not know about her role but takes the credit, which was rightfully hers, for himself and the university.”

Speaking at the hearing, the lawyer added that Taylor was shown as a “devious, weasel-like person,” who mocked Richard III’s disability and linked “physical deformity with wickedness or moral failings.”

Coogan, Baby Cow and Pathé are defending the libel claim, with their legal representative arguing that that “The Lost King” was a “feature film, not a documentary” and was “not a literal portrayal of exact words.” In a statement, Pathé said it will continue to stand by the film.

“Pathé has a long, respected and successful history of financing and distributing dramatic motion pictures based on real people, events and stories (including ‘The Queen,’ ‘The Iron Lady,’ ‘Philomena,’ ‘Selma,’ ‘Pride,’ ‘Judy’ and ‘The Great Escaper’) and we stand by our decision to finance ‘The Lost King,’ to give Philippa Langley a voice and to bring her story to the screen,” the company said. “We will respect the judge’s decision and are confident that the film doesn’t bear the meaning which Richard Taylor is alleging. It was never Pathés intention to misrepresent anyone and we believe we will succeed in defending the film and Pathé’s position.”

Judge Jaron Lewis is set to give a ruling at a later date on preliminary issues in the legal claim.

Directed by Stephen Frears, “The Lost King” first bowed in Toronto in 2022 was released in the U.S. by IFC Films in March 2023.