We caught up with him this week, and along with the Globes, he talked about his new animated HBO series 'The Ricky Gervais Show,' the novelty of being heard by Inuit fishermen, and why he plans to keep working Steve Carell "until he collapses like an old horse on a farm." Ricky Gervais has a lot going on. How he keeps up with everything is a mystery to us, but we hope he never stops. The funny every-guy is "flattered and excited" about his new gig hosting the Golden Globes, but don't look for any big production numbers. He plans to skip the song-and-dance routines and stick with what works for him -- being himself, putting the focus on the winners, and popping in here to provide some predictably witty commentary.
We caught up with the comedian last week, and along with the Globes, he talked about his new animated HBO series 'The Ricky Gervais Show,' the novelty of being heard by Inuit fishermen, and why he plans to keep working Steve Carell "until he collapses like an old horse on a farm."
Congratulations on the Golden Globes gig! What are your plans for the show?
Well, I'm not going to try and become a slick host who's the good old boy of the network; that's certainly not going to happen. I'm going to go out there and hopefully do a little bit of roasting ... A strike for the big fat common man at home.
So, no big production numbers?
No, I'm not going to do any pre-recorded sketches of people, no song-and-dance numbers. I'm not going to stand out there for three hours. I'll pop out when I've got something to say to keep it rolling. I'm going to try and keep it party-like and roll with the punches.
Put the focus on the winners and their big night then.
Right, I don't want it to be my show. It's not. It's the winners' show. It's their big day, particularly if it's a first time winner or someone who the room really wants to win. I don't want to dampen it by showing off and going, 'Look who's hosting!' Because it's no big deal to anyone, I don't think. With that said, you know I will do my best, and I'm not going to hold back. It's going to be very me.
What's your game plan for the night?
When I walk out on a stage, there's usually two voices in my head. One that says just be nice and go have a mint after, and the other that says no, say what you thought of saying but thought you shouldn't. There's an argument between good and evil, and the evil one usually wins. You'll see a smile come over my face and we'll see how it goes down. Because I think that's what a comedian does really. I'm not doing this to further my career or get work. I create my own labor. I don't do things to up my profile or get on a list. I do my own thing quietly, and I do it for a laugh. A comedian's job isn't just to make people laugh, it's to make people think. I think we're meant to push the barriers a little bit and see what happens. The other side of the coin is it's so easy to go in there and shock and be awful and insult someone, and that doesn't interest me at all. I think people sometimes confuse rudeness and being a loud mouth moron to being controversial and edgy, and it couldn't be further from the truth.
That's why people love you.
Well, some do [laughs]. I don't try to win people over. I've never done that. I don't want to prove myself to anyone, and I don't create exceptions by the majority. It seems to working, and I think that's how I'm happier.
It's totally working for you. So, do you do a lot off the top of your head, or do you spend time writing things out?
I'll certainly plan things. It would be foolish of me to go out in front of a world crowd of 400 million people without planning. But yes, I certainly have a few things jotted down, and I'm sure I'll rehearse the time walking out and finding the microphone. At the Emmys, I didn't even know where to start. The mic didn't come up, and the thing I did with Steve Carell was 90 percent ad lib. All I knew was I was going to ask for my Emmy back and see where it went from there. Likewise, I obviously didn't know Kate Winslet was going to win the Golden Globe [Best Supporting Actress for 'The Reader'], so that was great. "I told you, Winslet. Do the Holocaust films, and the awards come flooding in." So that was a gift that she had done that. So you roll with the punches.
Keep it fun and interesting.
Right, I'm going to have fun. I hope that the people in the room like what I do, and the people at home watching think it's fun, too. Because there's nothing more boring than watching people win awards. The only people who care about the people who win awards are the ones who have the award in their hands.
What's the vibe at the Golden Globes as compared to other awards shows?
It's like the Oscars and the Emmys all in one room with the best people on TV and in films together. It's not fixed seating. They don't have to sit there like good boys and girls and put their hand up to go to the toilet and then wait to come back. They walk around the tables, they're drinking with their friends, and it's really a nice, relaxed, celebratory atmosphere. That's just what an awards ceremony should be. So, I just hope I don't ruin it for everyone.
How did you get the gig? Do they just choose people? Or do you have to put your name in a hat?
I think it was after I did the thing with Steve Carell [at the Emmys] and apparently, my agent got a few calls about the Oscars and the Emmys and the Golden Globes. Not likely I could do the Oscars; I think I would be the wrong person for the job. For all the reasons I said, they chose the perfect one for me. Then HBO got an email and they sent it to me, and it said something like, "You've been offered the Golden Globes job, what should we say?" I laughed and said, "Oh definitely!" I was flattered and excited. I don't know if it's the right thing for me to do or not, but I don't care. I want to find out.
Are you involved in writing the little bits that the presenters say?
No, I don't want to be involved in that. But if I think something is bad, I might say, "What was that last thing? That was awful. We've got to speed this up. Who's in charge? Who's the director here?" I'm just going to be reactive; I'm going to be like a heckler.
Like the rest of us out here.
Exactly, I'm going to watch it back stage and say, "What was all of that?" I'm going to try and be a bit of an island in terms of what I'm in charge of, and that's going to be my gig, to be honest. So yeah, I don't know how it will work, but I don't want to be blamed for stuff I haven't done is what I'm saying.
Is it different working in the U.S. than Britain? How is the comedy different?
I've been a fan of American [entertainment] for 40 years, from Laurel & Hardy to the Marx Brothers through Woody Allen, who brought modern comedy to the cinema screen. Then came Christopher Guest and his crew, and in sitcom land everything from 'Cheers' through to the audacious, boundary pushing shows. In drama, it keeps pushing the envelope with shows like 'Columbo' and 'Murder One' and then 'The Sopranos,' which I thought would never be surpassed. Then we got 'The Wire' and now 'Damages' and 'Dexter,' which is funny and clever and dramatic and groundbreaking. I couldn't be more proud and happy that I'm getting work in America, and that I'm accepted here for what I do.
And, of course, 'The Office.'
It's bigger than I ever dreamed it would be. I mean, it's the first successful British remake of a sitcom in about 30 years. I'm so lucky and privileged that they let us be involved in that, and I'm glad the original version is seen out there. And 'Extras,' too.
I've talked to other HBO stars who say it's really like a family there.
HBO is the greatest company in the world. They're just amazing and it's such a nice feeling. It really is like a family there. Our new show, 'The Ricky Gervais Show,' is the animated version of the podcast, and I want that to run and run so I'm always on HBO doing something.
Does Carell call on you for 'The Office,' or does he just do his own thing?
No, I think it's important that he puts himself into that role as opposed to mimicking my portrayal of David Brent, and that's what they've done. Obviously, the characters are based on the characters we created in the original version, but it was time for them to do a name change, so they wouldn't always be compared to the British version. It's fantastic, and I couldn't be prouder of them. And as long as I get my cut, I never want them to stop. I never want Carell to take a holiday. I'm going to work him until he collapses like an old horse on a farm.
Can you talk about your upcoming film projects? What's 'Cemetery Junction'?
That's out in April, in the UK first, and I'm so excited about it. I think it's the best thing that Stephen [Merchant] and I have done. It's about blue-collar kids who've grown up in a small town and are trying to escape the feeling of being crushed and trapped. But it's not a depressing, sort of British film. It's all quite glorious. It's like our 'Saturday Night Fever' or 'Rebel Without a Cause.' It's very sort of rock and roll, and we're very excited by it. It's our first real drama, I would say, even though we snuck in drama in 'The Office' and 'Extras.' It was always the way we were going, but sooner or later, you have to drop the Trojan Horse of sneaking stuff in. We're dropping that bit of irony and being as big and glorious and honest and upfront as we can be with this one.
And 'Flanimals' is coming up.
Oh, 'Flanimals'! Again, everything I do is a labor of love. I used to draw those characters to make my nephew laugh, and now it's being developed into a Hollywood film with the guys who did 'The Simpsons Movie.' So again, I couldn't be prouder of it. The most immediate project is 'The Ricky Gervais Show,' the animated HBO show. I think we could have a new 'Simpsons' on our hands because Karl Pilkington is the most bizarre, little round-headed fool I've ever met in my life. I think the world will be captivated by him.
When does that premiere?
February 19 on HBO.
What else do you have in the works?
We're doing more audio books, and the latest is 'The Ricky Gervais Guide to Law & Order' (available on iTunes or Audible). Again, it's a labor of love. I love being in a room with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington talking absolute rubbish. We've had over 119 million downloads, and we get emails from Inuits, which blows Karl's mind. He can't understand where they're downloading this, so he imagines the little fellow fishing in ice hole with an iPod on.
See, your audio books are keeping all those people going on the ice out there.
I hope so. Maybe we'll do a special one just for Aborigines and Inuits and people who are far away from what we call civilization.
Anything else you want to say about the Globes or anything?
I'm blogging on the process [check out Ricky's blog, This Side of the Truth, on RickyGervais.com], so I'll put the announcers up and start saying what I'm thinking of and who's going to be there. Then on that night, I might be blogging on who said something awful backstage; so I'll be Perez Hilton for the night. I'll go backstage with a mask on and dish the dirt. Then out front, I'll be the corporate face.
Do you get nervous, or is it sort of old hat now?
I don't get nervous, because I don't care what happens. I never try and hurt anyone. I try and be amusing, I try and be honest, and I hope that people know that everything I say and do comes from a good place. There's nothing more I can do. I don't want to change, and I don't know whether it's because I've got no ego at all or the biggest ego in the world. But I don't care.
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