Jimmy Savile: Steve Coogan on Playing Paedophile TV Presenter in The Reckoning


In the world of entertainment, few subjects are as sensitive and polarizing as the portrayal of real-life figures involved in heinous crimes. One such portrayal that garnered immense attention and controversy is Steve Coogan’s role as Jimmy Savile in “The Reckoning.” In this article, we will delve into the intricate details of this portrayal, the challenges faced, and the broader implications it had.

Steve Coogan: A Versatile Actor

Steve Coogan is a renowned actor known for his versatility in roles. From comedy to drama, he has effortlessly showcased his acting prowess. However, his decision to take on the role of Jimmy Savile, a notorious TV presenter, in “The Reckoning” was a bold and audacious move.

The Challenging Transformation

A Glimpse into Jimmy Savile’s Life

Before diving into Coogan’s portrayal, it’s essential to understand who Jimmy Savile was. Savile was a British television and radio personality who was revered for his charity work. However, after his death, shocking revelations of child abuse emerged, tarnishing his legacy.

Coogan’s Physical and Emotional Transformation

To play the role convincingly, Coogan underwent a dramatic transformation. He not only had to mimic Savile’s distinctive appearance but also delve deep into the psyche of a man whose dark secrets were hidden from the world for years.

The Controversy Surrounding the Film

Unveiling Dark Truths

“The Reckoning” aimed to shed light on Savile’s heinous crimes, sparking controversy even before its release. Coogan’s involvement added fuel to the fire as some believed that portraying such a character was inherently wrong.

Coogan’s Justification

Steve Coogan defended his role by emphasizing the importance Jimmy Savile of confronting uncomfortable truths. He argued that it was crucial to bring Savile’s dark side to the forefront and raise awareness about the issue of child abuse.

Impact on Steve Coogan

Emotional Toll

Portraying a character like Jimmy Savile left a lasting impact on Steve Coogan. The emotional toll of inhabiting such a disturbing persona cannot be understated. Coogan admitted to grappling with a sense of moral responsibility throughout the project.

Personal Growth

Despite the challenges, Coogan’s performance in “The Reckoning” showcased his growth as an actor. It revealed his ability to tackle complex and morally ambiguous characters while delivering a thought-provoking message.

Audience Reception

Provoking Discussions

“The Reckoning” did more than just entertain; it provoked important discussions about the role of media, the cult of celebrity, and the responsibility of society in holding wrongdoers accountable.

Empathy and Awareness

Coogan’s portrayal led to increased empathy for the victims of abuse and a heightened awareness of the need to protect vulnerable individuals.

The Complex Character: Jimmy Savile

To truly understand the significance of Steve Coogan’s role in “The Reckoning,” we must first grasp the complexity of the character he portrayed – Jimmy Savile. Savile was a British television presenter and DJ who, after his death, was revealed to be a prolific sex offender and paedophile. Coogan’s decision to take on this role was met with both intrigue and skepticism.

The Transformation

Coogan’s transformation into Jimmy Savile was nothing short of remarkable. Through meticulous makeup and wardrobe, he embodied the physical appearance of the disgraced presenter. But it was his ability to capture the essence of Savile’s persona that truly left a lasting impression.

Jimmy Savile: Steve Coogan on Playing Paedophile TV Presenter in The Reckoning
Jimmy Savile: Steve Coogan on Playing Paedophile TV Presenter in The Reckoning

The Challenges

Playing such a notorious figure came with its fair share of challenges. Coogan faced criticism and scrutiny from the public and the media. Many questioned the ethics of portraying a paedophile on screen. However, Coogan defended his choice, emphasizing the importance of shedding light on uncomfortable truths.

The Reckoning: The Controversial Film

“The Reckoning” was a biographical drama that explored Jimmy Savile’s life and the shocking revelations about his criminal activities. Directed by a talented team, the film aimed to provide a balanced perspective on the dark legacy of Savile.

The Controversy

Unsurprisingly, the film was mired in controversy right from its inception. Critics argued that it was inappropriate to create a movie about a paedophile, while others believed it was necessary to expose the truth. Coogan’s involvement intensified the debates, with some lauding his dedication to the role and others condemning the decision.

The Impact

Despite the controversies, “The Reckoning” had a significant impact on the public’s perception of Jimmy Savile. It forced people to confront uncomfortable truths and sparked conversations about the responsibility of the media in elevating individuals who later turned out to be criminals.

The Role of Responsible Filmmaking

Ethical Considerations

Filmmaking, like any other art form, raises ethical questions. “The Reckoning” prompted discussions about where to draw the line between art, truth, and sensitivity. It highlighted the importance of responsible storytelling, especially when dealing with real-life horrors.


Q: Why did Steve Coogan choose to portray Jimmy Savile? A: Steve Coogan believed that portraying Jimmy Savile was an opportunity to shed light on the uncomfortable truth about his crimes and the role of the media in elevating him.

Q: Was “The Reckoning” a documentary or a biographical drama? A: “The Reckoning” was a biographical drama that aimed to provide a balanced perspective on Jimmy Savile’s life and crimes.

Q: How did Steve Coogan prepare for his role as Jimmy Savile? A: Coogan underwent a meticulous transformation in terms of makeup and wardrobe and extensively researched Savile’s life and character to prepare for the role.

Q: What impact did “The Reckoning” have on public perception? A: The film forced the public to confront uncomfortable truths about Jimmy Savile and sparked important conversations about media responsibility.

Q: Did Steve Coogan face criticism for taking on this role? A: Yes, Coogan faced criticism and scrutiny for his decision to portray a paedophile, but he defended his choice as a means of exposing the truth.

Q: What were the broader implications of “The Reckoning”? A: The film raised questions about the ethics of storytelling and the responsibility of filmmakers when dealing with sensitive real-life subjects.


In the world of acting and filmmaking, taking on a role like Jimmy Savile is a significant challenge. Steve Coogan’s portrayal in “The Reckoning” not only showcased his talent but also ignited crucial conversations about ethics, responsibility, and the power of storytelling. While controversial, this portrayal serves as a reminder of the impact that art can have on society’s perception of truth.

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