Steve Coogan blasted Sir Philip Green as “a perfect focal point for the unchecked, unaccountable, unregulated ugliness of the market at its worst” at the premiere of his new satirical film in which he plays a retail magnate inspired by the billionaire.
The Alan Partridge star plays Sir Richard McCreadie in Greed, the owner of a string of fast-fashion brands who has recently seen one of his high street chains collapse and who has made a disastrous appearance in front of MPs at a select committee.
The film follows the build-up to McCreadie’s Roman-themed 60th birthday party on the island of Mykonos, complete with celebrity performers and a real lion, and also shows the conditions of the workers making the clothes he sells in factories in Sri Lanka.
Arriving at the film’s premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in London, Coogan told the PA news agency: “I think that with the super-rich, they have so many resources they can distract people from things they don’t them to talk about.
“And of course the super-rich people who run Zara and H&M and Topshop don’t want us to look at the plight of the people who work in their factories for sometimes as little as three dollars a day making clothes the rest of us buy.
“And we are complicit, many consumers are complicit, and I’ve done it in the past, I try not to now that I’ve educated myself, but this addiction to seasonal changes, six times a year, new lines being brought out constantly, it’s an addiction that has been created by the industry but I think people need to talk about it.
“We talk about sexual politics, identity politics, we talk about lots of other thing, we all talk about the environment now, that is on the agenda, something we can always open discussions about, one thing that is not being discussed is the plight of mainly women, mainly women of colour actually, who are paid this pitiful money in the developing world.
“As privileged westerners we need to take a long view about this and how we want to behave and call these companies to account.
“We are citizens and we need to pay attention to each other and talk about it. They use celebrities to distract people from talking about what is an important thing.”
Discussing his own thoughts on Sir Philip, he said: “I thought he was actually a perfect focal point for the unchecked, unaccountable, unregulated ugliness of the market at its worst, and in a way I’m sort of grateful he came along because his vulgarity was a perfect expression of everything that is wrong with unchecked unregulated capitalism.”
Director Michael Winterbottom, who also wrote the film, said it would be “ludicrous” to suggest the film was not inspired by Sir Philip but added he really wanted to use the character to look at the way the system works.
He said: “He’s obviously a very colourful character, he gave us the idea to invent a character whose career spanned the last 40 years, the whole globalisation process, the idea the market is king, you have to ind the cheapest place to make the clothes.”
Former Made In Chelsea star Ollie Locke also has a cameo in the film, as the boyfriend of McCreadie’s daughter who happens to be starring in a reality show, but Locke denied it was a comment on his previous relationship with Sir Philip’s daughter Chloe.
He said: “Chlo and I went out a million years ago so it’s nothing to do with that, it’s only loosely based around a retail magnate, so it’s a bit of fun and I hope that everyone believes it’s a bit of fun and its not meant to be taken too seriously.”
Greed will be released in UK cinemas in February 2020.