Ricky Gervais bits and pieces
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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On tonight's 'The One Show'
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

News Review interview: Ricky Gervais
Call him whatever you like; just don’t get the facts wrong. Britain’s most successful comedian may be a control freak but he is not on a diet
Rosie Millard
The Sunday Times

Ricky Gervais is standing in front of me, looking perfectly normal, talking about the cold snap. Suddenly he breaks into his famous David Brent “chicken” dance – arms wheeling, knees doing that weird side-bend, face in a strained rictus that shows his canines. We are in his office. All right – it’s a Hampstead office, north London, but we could so easily be in Slough. For a mad moment I think of recording the dance on my mobile phone. The personal kudos (particularly from my kids) to be gained from such a clip flashes through my mind. Fortunately I come to my senses. Gervais would loathe me for doing it; he would think I was treating him like a “celebrity”; he might even think I was “papping” him. He hates all that sort of stuff.

He does tend to break into his dance at the drop of a hat – most famously at the Concert for Diana at Wembley last year when, alarmingly, he appeared to dry up before an estimated worldwide audience of two billion. Without any jokes at his disposal, Gervais had no option but to resort to Brent’s most embarrassing moment. The critics were unimpressed, one even declaring that this was the last we would ever see of Ricky Gervais.

So, Ricky: was that Wembley gig the worst moment of your life? “Well, I was only meant to go on and introduce Elton John,” Gervais says. “Then this woman showed me a sign saying ‘Four minutes’. So I did the dance. I found out later that there had been a little problem with Elton John. Apparently, he wasn’t happy that a song of his had to be cut. There was a bit of a disagreement backstage.”

In other words, Elton was the problem but it was poor old Ricky who looked like the twerp? “Yes,” says Gervais, with a canine-flashing giggle. But he hasn’t lost much sleep over the suggestion that it was a career-ending performance. “Four minutes? The end of my career? It’s ludicrous. I think I’ll be remembered for The Office and Extras and whatever films I do before being remembered for going: oops, Elton John’s not quite ready. End of my career,” he repeats. “As if.”

Yet he’s all too aware that comedy can go disastrously wrong. After all, look at his good friend Jonathan Ross, who has had to endure lashings of national loathing over the past week, not to mention the loss of an estimated £1.5m after being suspended by the BBC for three months.

“Comedy is all about context,” says Gervais. And the context of Ross and Rus-sell Brand’s messages on the answerphone of the actor Andrew Sachs? “Jonathan’s joke was not a good joke. It was two minutes of misjudgment and they know they did wrong. But Jonathan is a friend and I will stand by him.”

Has he spoken to him since the furore broke? “Yes, of course I have. Privately, several times. He is very sorry. The trouble was that Andrew Sachs isn’t a fictional character. There was a real person at the end of that answerphone and it was a childish gag. It wasn’t a good joke – but come on, enough is enough. [Jonathan] is not a mass-murderer.

“I think it was the fact that it was broadcast which caused the moral outrage and that wasn’t his fault. He is so sorry. He did a bad joke. It’s become personal now; people are camping out on his lawn and baying for his blood. But no one died.”

Has Gervais – whose comedy is routinely described as “taboo-crunching” – ever come similarly unstuck? “I never let my conscience take a day off. I can justify every joke I have ever done, every joke which has been described as ‘taboo-crunch-ing’, every joke where the target is how the joke is perceived,” he says.

“In retrospect my first show, The 11 O’Clock Show, should have had more nods and winks so people knew it was satire, but there’s only so much you can do. Comedy comes from a good place or a bad place. A joke can be justified – or not justified.”

Gervais, at 47, is our most garlanded comic with seven Baftas, two Emmys and three Golden Globes. He is the man who seemed to come from nowhere to make The Office, the darkest and most perfect television sitcom in decades. With Extras, his second offering, he managed the seemingly impossible feat of satirising the modern obsession with fame while becoming extremely famous himself.

If there is anyone in the entertainment business who shepherds his career more closely, I would like to meet him. Everything Gervais does is superbly controlled: “I have never sworn by mistake. In any broadcast, ever.” Compared with the slapdash Brand and the garrulous Ross, Gervais gives the impression that he has a career ladder lodged in his head and knows exactly on which rung he is standing.

He is completely candid about the prime position that work holds in his life. He and his girlfriend (Jane Fallon, the television producer and writer whom he met at college) decided not to have children as a “life-style choice”, he says, because “we wanted to work on our careers”. And he readily admits to being a control freak who does nothing if he is not convinced that he can wholly own it. Cameo roles, such as the one he played in the film Night at the Museum, are done only as favours to mates.

“I create my own labour,” says Gervais. “I don’t look for work. I have never looked for work. I get sent two scripts a day; I never read them. I don’t do handcuff deals. I’m not an actor for hire.” He is quite affable about his control freakery. If you don’t want to play it his way, no problem: he’ll just walk away.

“My first thing was The 11 O’Clock Show [a Channel 4 comedy]. I said I’d do it if I could write my own piece. They said okay.” This was 1999. Since then he has done nothing that he has not personally created. Even his film cameos are all ad-libbed, he tells me, and he rewrote his own starring role in the new Hollywood rom-com Ghost Town.

His social life is similarly controlled: he has six friends, mates he has known for more than a decade, and says that’s enough. “I don’t have ‘people’ who arrange my diary. I am my ‘people’,” he says wryly. Typically, by six in the evening he will be in his pyjamas, ready for a night in front of the telly. Going out bores him. Particularly if there are snappers around.

“I don’t hang out with Samuel Jackson and Kate Winslet,” he says. “I don’t court people. I don’t schmooze. I avoid everything. I don’t go to talent functions or go on reality shows. I don’t go to things I can get in free to. I don’t move in celebrity circles.”

Which may seem a bit odd to those of us who have seen Gervais appearing no fewer than eight times on his pal Ross’s show, being extremely personable and seeming to revel in the heady air of celebrity. Maybe he’s just doing a favour to a mate. But most such appearances are specifically because Gervais has a project to punt. If he has made something, he is ever-willing to market it. Indeed, our meeting is in honour of a forthcoming TV special (the Christmas episode of Extras) as well as his headlining part in Ghost Town.

So, yes, Gervais will occasionally fling off the pyjamas to go to premieres, as long as they are for his own films, and he will go to award ceremonies, as long as he has a gong to pick up. Is this outrageous arrogance or the dutiful completion of an honest job? The fact that the question can even be posed is part of what makes him such an interesting “celebrity”.

Although, of course, he loathes the term: “I’ve never understood it. I’ve never understood the appeal of fame. I’m fascinated by people who think it’s a short cut to happiness, or acceptance, or respect.”

Yet Extras, the series in which he plays hapless wannabe Andy Millman – surrounded by a glittering cast including Robert De Niro, George Michael and Winslet – certainly acknowledged the hot currency of fame.

“There is a big difference between Robert De Niro and someone in X Factor,” says Gervais cheerily. “There is nothing wrong with X Factor, but someone who lives their life like an open wound has nothing in common with Robert De Niro, a very talented actor. And they shouldn’t be lumped in together. A celebrity is someone who is well known . . . for being well known.”

It was when he picked up his first comedy gong, he says, that he crossed over into the world of the mainstream celeb. “What made me famous wasn’t The Office. It was probably the award ceremonies. Because when the papers say you are successful, that’s when people say: yes, you are. I mean, you see a newsreader every day of your life on television, but you don’t think: there’s a famous person,” he adds (casually squashing the imagined status of dozens of newsreaders).

His own response to celebdom has been to assume what he calls “faux arrogance” – as when he received an award and promptly congratulated the Bafta judges on their excellent choice of winner. “It makes me feel sick,” he says, “to see someone going up there and going, ‘What, me? Oooooh’ [he fakes a starlet going into faux raptures of surprise over an award]. And I didn’t want to do that. So I got up there and went: yep, they got it right.”

Does he mind when people take him at face value and slag him off for being a big-head? It seems not: “I don’t object to people not liking what I do. I don’t care what people say. A bad review doesn’t annoy me at all; sometimes it’s a bit of a relief.”

What does annoy him beyond measure, even more than people who take photographs of him jogging, is people who get the facts wrong. He went to the Ivy recently and a woman on a neighbouring table watched what he ate and then rang The Independent with some of the details. “I ate a fruit salad, which was true, but I had it with ice-cream. And deep-fried scampi.” says Gervais. Leaving out the high-calorie stuff, you see, had given the resultant piece a nasty spin, namely: “Ricky is trying to lose weight for his Hollywood career.”

Which incensed him. He couldn’t care less about the implication that he needs to slim, though. “I am fat,” he says matter-of-factly. I inspect the Gervais frame, clad as usual in black T-shirt and jeans. Well, there’s a bit of a tummy but you aren’t exactly obese, I say. He shrugs. “I don’t care if someone says I am fat and unfunny. Opinion,” he says, exactly as Brent might say it. “But if someone says I am fat and unfunny and kick dogs, I’ll go: no, I don’t kick dogs. That’s what annoys me.”

What strikes me is that there is no pretence about Gervais. When he and his co-writer Stephen Merchant first pitched the idea of The Office to a BBC executive, neither of them had any track record. The executive was quite interested and told them that there were a couple of directors who might be willing to take the job on – at which point Gervais said that the BBC could forget all about that suggestion since a) he was going to direct it, b) he would be starring in it and c) if the BBC didn’t like that arrangement, it could lump it.

As he points out now, what’s the point of having an Airfix kit if you aren’t going to build the whole aeroplane?

“I just thought, where’s the fun?” says Gervais. “I didn’t want to make TV for the sake of it. We wanted to make something which would last. I always wanted to be a bit more . . . special. Maybe it was because I came to it older.”

At that point he was already 38 and had a few careers under his belt, including a stint as a 1980s pop singer and a university receptionist. If The Office hadn’t taken off, would he have despaired?

“I worked in an office. I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sitting around thinking: this is shit, I’ve got to be famous,” says Gervais. “I wanted to be a research scientist, actually. I would have loved to have found a cure for Aids. I wouldn’t have been famous, but I would have had people say: you’ve done a good job there. You want to be accepted in your circle and respected by your peers and you want to do a good job.”
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ricky Gervais Plots TV Spinoff for The Man from the Pru
Comedy star reveals the show must go on after the credits roll.
by Joe Utichi
November 03, 2008

Speaking exclusively to Rotten Tomatoes, writer and comedy actor Ricky Gervais revealed that his upcoming feature film, The Man from the Pru, would spinoff into its own television series shortly after its debut. "We're thinking of doing a TV spinoff," Gervais said. "We're doing it the M*A*S*H way round. It was originally just going to be a TV series -- in fact it predates Extras."

The multi-hyphenate, whose directorial debut This Side of the Truth is shot and is due in cinemas late next year, recently visited the Rotten Tomatoes office in London to collect a Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town, in which he stars. The film, about a man whose hospital mishap results in a rather unwanted ability to see dead people, is currently an impressive 85% fresh with 143 reviews collected.

The Man from the Pru will be his next project, and his first big-screen collaboration with Stephen Merchant, with whom he co-wrote The Office and Extras. The film will follow a group of twenty-somethings in the 1970s as they waste their lives while working at the Prudential building society. "It's that thing of whether these working class guys can escape their class. Are they going to move in with their mum when they get married and then move in next door when they get their first house?"

Explaining the concept of spinning the film off into its own TV show, Ricky told RT, "it'd be lovely to launch this sort of quintessentially British feel and then have that ongoing thing ready where you can hit the ground running. I think it's a much better way around than doing a TV show and trying to turn it into a film. This way around gives it a bit more gravitas, I think.

"The film would be The Man from the Pru, but then the show could be The Men from the Pru. It could be a prequel, we might not get to where we did in the film, or we might move the emphasis a bit, we might make it slightly more sitcom and less epic. We're going to think of it as we go along, really."

The project is close to home for Gervais in more ways than one. Not only is it set in his hometown of Reading, but he revealed that some of the dialogue in the script for the film came from conversations he'd had with his mother in his youth. "There's a line in it that my mum said to me," he explained. "I was thinking of going to France and she went, 'What do you want to go abroad for? There are parts of your own town that you haven't seen yet.'"

Of course we'll be following the project as we learn more, but that's not all from Gervais on RT this month. Join us tomorrow when we'll be sharing his words on the possibility of more Extras, and later on to catch his hilarious acceptance speech and our full interview. Could Karl Pilkington soon be reviewing films on RT? Find out more soon.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a 25 minute interview with Sara Cox for Radio broadcast on Wednesday... it's worth a listen.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gervais answers your questions
The Sun

Hi Ricky. You're a legend. Can't wait for The Men From The Pru. Can you please tell me a bit more about it?
Stephen and I have just completed the script and we're aiming for it to be on screens in 2010. I came up with the idea prior to Extras but it didn't feel like the right time to release it until now.

Sometimes the best idea in the world can be lost over timing. So it’s quite important what order you do things in. It was great I made the Office when I did as I had no habits - I wasn't being like an actor I was being like a normal bloke, mumbling. That's what made it so special.

But for Pru we needed to be a better writer and director and we are. It's got the feel of Billy Liar, like a British film from the 60's. I would give myself the lead but I can't unfortunately as it revolves around a group of 25-year-olds so I have to play the guy's dad. We haven't found a part for Stephen yet but we will.

We're already working on the spin-off which is going to be a modern day Likely Lads where it's quite warm but also quite sad. You'll feel sorry for them. I always believe a new idea is the best. As Woody Allen would say: ‘The best an idea gets is when it is in your head.’

What is Stephen Merchant up to at the moment? Have you guys ever had a big fall out?
He's doing brilliantly. He's just got back from running around in tights in the Tooth Fairy with The Rock and Billy Crystal. In the words of Karl Pilkington: "Why would he make it worse for himself?" He's also just started working on his new stand-up show. We've never fallen out. We do our own thing and we come together and its built on respect.

How do you think you have changed since starting out in The Office?
I think I've improved as a director, actor and a writer. But with everything you gain, you lose something. We are objectively better. But with that you lose a bit of the alchemy you stumble across.

How do you react to people who say The Office is not as good as Extras?
I don't think you should really compare yourself to things you've done in the past. I couldn't be prouder of the Office and it's quite good when people say Extras isn't as good because I did that too. It’s a win/win situation.

How do you follow The Office though? We didn't do it to be successful, win awards and make money, we did it to be different and we did that. Extras didn't capture the Zeitgeist like The Office did but it won an Emmy and The Office didn't. And it got the same ratings. I think the Extras Xmas special is the best thing we've ever done.

Is it true you are trying to get The Beckhams on board for the new Extras special?
We might not do the one-off Extras thing now. It was my fault for starting the rumours but we’re going the other way now. I do miss it, but we've done it really now.

America are thinking of remaking Extras though. It will be really weird. There is an American version already - our one. HBO are just getting carried away. It would almost be like they have taken on a new personnel. Andy Millman would be American. Extras is bigger than the English office in America.

The Beckhams would be huge and we could do loads with them but I think Ali G got in first. At risk of sounding like an ego-maniac working with the Beckhams would only interest me if it was my idea. It wouldn't feel particularly exclusive. They are great but there is not a magazine that you open up and they've not been in.

Did you enjoy taking on the lead role in Ghost Town?
Yes I loved it. After doing lots of cameos doing simple parts but this was the first thing I’ve really done on my own. I had a great time though. I do prefer doing things that are my idea though. It frustrates me when I've not thought of it.

Why did you ask for the kissing scene at the end of Ghost Town to be cut?
I’m not a germaphobe. It was taken out for contextual reasons only. If it’s necessary I will do it.

Do you prefer working in the US or the UK?
I prefer working here as I am lazy but I do prefer the opportunity there. I've never been to America to make it. I’ve not slogged my way round auditions. They took on The office and Extras – both of which I made here. In America I'm more famous for being the producer of the America Office than anything else.

Can you believe how things have escalated so quickly since the start of The Office?
It's amazing. I could have retired after one series of the UK Office as it's got so big. It's been shown in more than 90 countries – America, France, Germany, Chile to name a few.

I actually watched an episode for the first time since they were originally screened the other day. I found myself really laughing at Gareth. He’s brilliant. The Office is the gift that keeps in giving. I love it. It's like I've written a song and it's being covered. It doesn't bother me as it doesn't effect my version.

We're also working on two spin-off shows of the US version and screening special 'Producer's Cuts' on the Internet. HBO are getting carried away. England is about a third of my income, America a third and the rest of the world makes up the rest.

Hey Ricky. I'm a huge fan and just wanted to say keep up the good work! When will we next see you on the road with your stand-up?
The fourth tour is called Science and should be out next year . It's more to do with politics than Politics ever was. It actually pre-dates Fame but I think now is the right time for it. I loved Fame because of all anecdotes - Ipodge etc. The Sun got three mentions. I do like featuring the press in my stand-up. Will try and get the Sun more mentions in Science. It will look at and deconstruct things. There will be references to Science itself too - digressions, Noah's Arc etc

When and where do you come up with your ideas?
I'm always thinking and writing things down. Annoyingly sometimes they come when I'm out running and don't have a pen or in the middle of the night. Work out - watch TV. Always thinking and writing things down. I wake up in the night with ideas and stay awake until I remember it.

Do you enjoy a healthy Hollywood lifestyle?
I always try and fit in half an hour of running wherever or whenever I am. I like to work up a sweat and have a shower before I have copius amounts of curry, cheese, wine.

Are there any celebrities you are desperate to work with in the future?
Not really. In Extras we aimed so high with Al Pacino. Who I work with isn't important to me. Feed into the story. Kate Winslet, social faux pas about the phone sex. It wasn't so I could list have a list of my Hollywood mates.

Hi Ricky, I hear you do a lot for animal charities. Are you a big fan of animals?
Yes I absolutely love animals! Jonathan Ross gave me my cat Ollie after my cat Colin died. It was the best present I've ever had. I also had a pet salamander Tel. . I'd love a dog but I go away too much. Jane and I often walk round Hampsted Heath and gawp at other people's dogs because I can't have one.

What is your verdict on the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand/Andrew Sachs drama?
It did go too far. Jonathan was devastated. I’ve spoken to him and he knows he was in the wrong. The whole thing got blown out of proportion. Obviously what they did was wrong. It wasn't very funny.

They made a mistake because they picked on a real person and they left the message on a human being’s answer phone. They could have sworn a hundred times and said some other ridiculous things and that would have been ok. But it was about a human being. The sex and the baying for blood and all that. It was wrong. But they do know that now. Jonathan has apologised. He knew he made a mistake but he didn't kill anyone.

Do you ever feel like you have over-stepped the mark with your jokes?
You have to go a long way to be controversial these days. I know for every good review, one million people hate me. I don't single out individual people and if I think it oversteps the mark I take it out. The subject matter I do shocks people enough. Some people take it the wrong way but I'm not going to change and do anodyne safe comedy to please certain people. People know I'm taboo. It's what I do. I'm not taking the p*ss out of race, disability or cancer.

The subjects I cover are middle class angst. People think I'm screwing their view of it - I'm not - I'm playing a character. I'm being an idiot. A right wing bore. You only have your own morality to go on. If I think it is over-stepping the mark I will take it out. Racism and phone sex were included in Extras to tell a story. It wasn't just for the sake of it.

I don't want to do something I’m ashamed off. I’m proud of my work. Some people will find things offensive. Some people find mixed marriages offensive but they're wrong. You only have your own morality to go on. I do look for reviews and post them on my website - the good and the bad. I just won an award on Rotten Tomatoes for getting 85%. If i was to get annoyed about 85% I'd really be an unhappy person.

Is it true you are in line to present the Oscars next year?
Yes I’m on a long list of people lined up. I’m very flattered but in all honesty I don’t think it will happen. I wouldn’t be allowed to do what I want to do.

Americans do get my humour but in the words of Jerry Seinfield: ‘The Oscars isn't about comedy. It's about a bunch of people turning up to see if they have won an award.’ It is a huge deal but I’m not sure I’d be right. It’s a historic, stuffy thing and I’d want to have fun with it and I don’t think they’d want me to do that. I wouldn’t be allowed to do what I want to do and it would be no fun for me reading an autocue. I’d want to do it my way. I don’t need to do these things. I don't want up my profile or do things for the money.

I don’t think it will happen anyway. How do you follow someone like Billy Crystal? They’ll get someone to say yes before they come to me.

What films are your tips for success at the Oscars?
I’m not sure as I don’t watch many. I hate going to the cinema as people are too noisy eating and on their phones. I am on the Bafta committee so I do get sent some of those films. I’m not a fan of the Bond genre as it leaves me cold but I do quite like Daniel Craig. I did like the revamping of him as a cold assassin. I prefer the Bourne films as they are much grittier. I also liked Hancock.

Do you ever regret turning down £2million for an advert?
No as the offers are still coming. I've got so little time to do the things I actually want to do that I’m not interested in making money. It would be obscene for me to do adverts.

Do you have any plans to retire?
There is nothing to retire from. I love doing what I’m doing and I’m a workaholic. As Winston Churchill said: ‘If you find a job you love, you'll never work again.’ I’ll retire from acting before writing and directing.

Hi Ricky, I’m a huge fan of yours! You are clearly a very funny man but what do you think of the big world news at the moment – Barack Obama’s appointment, Baby P and the Mumbai attacks?
Obama is great news and brilliant for America. I don’t watch the news but I noticed this month the world is in breakdown. With Mumbai and other attacks, what is going on? What a scary, horrendous world we live in. The Baby P story is too unbearable - I don't want it in my head.

Would you ever sing in a movie?
I just got sent the lead in a musical - but its not a usual one. It's a spoof of one - a deconstructive one. I would think about doing it but I would rather it was my idea - you get paid twice then!
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an interesting article about Gervais' atheism - the blog is in the religious section of the paper, so the comments are not the usual internet flannel.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bearskin caps are no laughing matter, says Gervais
By Jonathan Owen
Sunday, 14 December 2008

Ricky Gervais has asked the Prime Minister to prod the Ministry of Defence with a stick over over the bearskin hats worn by the Guards regiments. The comedian says the MoD is dragging its feet over replacing the fur used to make the hats.

"Your MoD advisers claim that this can only happen when a 'suitable synthetic alternative' can be found. Please know that the MoD have sung this song for years," he wrote to Mr Brown last week.

In his letter Mr Gervais calls on the PM to intervene personally: "If killing bears for ceremonial caps is cruel, how can we justify allowing it to continue? As long as bears are shot for the caps, the MoD must surely be compelled to establish a timeline of some urgency within which they will phase [them] out. Would your office be so good as to prod them with a stick?"

The Prime Minister recently wrote to Mr Gervais, pledging his personal support over calls for a ban on bearskins. "I can completely understand your feelings. I was also very surprised when I first learned that these caps were still made using real fur, and I very much agree that this practice should be ended as soon as a suitable alternative can be found," he said.

Designers such as Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood have offered their help to animal campaigners in the search for a replacement, but this has yet to be taken up by the Ministry of Defence. Up to 100 black bears are killed each year to provide fur for the hats, which have cost the MoD more than £321,000 over the past five years.


100 bears killed every year just so those moronic twats can look like the bastard idiots they are while posing for tourists outside Buckingham Palace?

I wonder how many humans the Irish guards have killed in the last year in Afghanistan though?
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dinner party? Don't make me laugh ...
He's a food-lover, but no cook, a vegetarian who loves a Christmas roast, a millionaire superstar who'd rather slob out in front of the TV than eat with showbiz friends. Ricky Gervais puts his life on a plate for Vincent Graff
Vincent Graff
The Observer,
Sunday 14 December 2008

I'd better be careful what I say because Ricky Gervais keeps a blog and he uses it to bite back when he reads something he doesn't like. It features random pictures of his best friend's bald head, snaps of his cat wearing a paper-tissue hat – and angry Anglo-Saxon insults aimed at any journalist who gets anything wrong about him.

The blog also reveals how important food is in his life. There are dinners at New York's 21 Club: 'We sat at Frank Sinatra's table. The food is amazing. I had chicken and mash.' There's nosh with chums: 'Had lunch at David Baddiel's house. We showed his kids how we used to amuse ourselves before the Nintendo Wii.'

But it's the sharp response to a journalist who'd suggested that he was 'flustered about his weight' that is uppermost in my mind now that I'm sitting opposite Gervais talking to him about the food that he eats and the effect it is having on his body shape.

'Don't say I must be trying to lose weight because of Hollywood,' he spat at the 'sad c***' from the Independent. 'It's not true. If you have trouble filling the newspaper, use a bigger font. Print a poem. Leave a space.'

I'm not so hot at poetry. So how shall I explain Gervais's relationship with his weight? We're in his office – an uninspiring modern beige box that smells of new carpet, above a shop in Hampstead, north London – and he is leaning back in his chair, his feet plonked casually on the desk, his rounded belly perfectly contained under a tight black T-shirt.

He is not in the least bit concerned about his weight, he says. 'No, I pretend to be for humour. If I say I'm fat I'm allowed to do fat jokes.' Well, let's see. It is not, in truth, a huge belly, certainly not for a man in his mid-forties. But it is on the chubby side . And – as his blog reveals – it did provoke Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg to call him 'a fat idiot'. (His official response, issued to the press? 'Simon is not only one of my favourite British comic actors but he is also quite astute, as according to my last medical, I am approximately 22lb over my ideal weight.')

'I work out every day,' says Gervais, who recently had a swimming pool built beneath his London home and has installed a gym at his New York apartment. 'Don't sound so surprised. I'm fat because I eat too much and I'd rather not give up food. It's not glandular, it's greed. If I didn't work out I'd still eat as much but instead of being probably 20 pounds overweight, I would be 40 pounds overweight and growing.' In any case, 'I don't think a comedian should be worried about their weight'.

Has he ever been on a diet? 'No.' At some points in his life – notably as a student, when he had little money, and had to cook for himself – 'I didn't eat and I was thin'. But 'for the past 15 years I've eaten and I've got fat'.

Pleased we've got that out of the way. Let's now get down to enjoying food rather than worrying about it. Gervais cannot wait until Christmas Day. Just him, his girlfriend Jane, their cat – and a huge traditional feast at their big north London house.

'Christmas is great. I start thinking about it as soon as the clocks go back. I love it. My ideal Christmas is getting up, opening the presents, I call my family and their kids. Noel Edmonds is on telly giving presents to sick kids. I'll have a gin and tonic, I'm crying by 11 o'clock and then I have a roast dinner. The roast dinner is the king of dinners. And the king of roast dinners is the Christmas dinner. There'll be organic, free-range roast turkey. There will be little cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon, there's no doubt about it. Roast potatoes. I will have one Brussels sprout, and eat it like a good boy. And peas. And really caramelised cooked parsnips and turnips so they're like crisps and really thick …' Roasted parsnips and turnips? Both of them? 'Probably just … what's the long pointy one?'

It turns out Gervais never cooks. 'I've got to be honest. I was going to say I dabble but when I say I dabble I mean I might put the toaster on if I have beans on toast. So, no, Jane does all the cooking. She's very good, she really enjoys it. And I'm useless.

'I think it would kill me if I tried to cook a chicken. I don't know anything. I can do the basics, I know how to turn a grill on, I know how to do the toaster, I know how to do the microwave.' Recently, he was filming away from home, and his living quarters had a kitchen which he ended up using. 'I had pasta every night because that's what I could do. Then one night I got fed up with pasta and I had some soup. I thought well that's not enough, so I broke an egg in it. So I poached an egg in some cream of tomato soup.' Gervais emits a huge cackle.

'It's really good! I remember once when I was a student and I couldn't be bothered to cook, my mate had some Shredded Wheat and some baked beans. So I laid out the Shredded Wheat like a piece of toast and poured the cold beans on the top. Unbelievable!' Another big cackle.

If he feels nervous in the kitchen that may be because he grew up in a household where all the cooking was done by his mother. It was her job to provide the food, and no one else's. Raised in a council house on the outskirts of Reading, Gervais was the son of a building labourer and a full-time housewife, in the days, he says, before anyone attached any embarrassment to the latter job description. 'Mum was a housewife and mother, it was her job 24/7 and it was her job with every fibre in her body. You know what? I think she loved doing it. But she did it because she had to. She was an economist, a baker, a dressmaker, a knitter. Incredible.'

Food in the household followed a strict rota. Sunday was a roast (pork, lamb or chicken), followed by cold meat and bubble and squeak on Monday, three days of stew or a salad ('grated egg, cheese, some crisps, maybe a sausage roll and a bit of beetroot … not a salad at all, really'), fish and chips on Friday and a fry-up on Saturday.

This was supplemented by some excellent baking: 'She used to bake at the weekends. I'd have to take all the jellies and trifles out the bath – she'd put bowls of setting jelly, trifles, cakes, in four inches of water to cool down because we didn't have enough space in the fridge.'

Overall, the food was 'great, but I imagine it was terrible for you'. And though money was short, the meat was good quality – Gervais remembers his trips to the local butcher quite vividly: 'I was terrified of the butcher. Terrified of him. A man covered in blood with a huge axe and dead animals hanging behind him.'

This, as it turns out, was the beginning of a growing squeamishness towards meat. Today, Gervais – who speaks passionately against fox hunting and foie gras, and has lent his name to at least one animal rights campaign – admits he is struggling with the morality of eating meat. 'I am, I have to,' he says. 'Yeah, more and more I struggle to justify anyone eating meat. I'd like to say that eating meat is cruel.' But he can just about justify killing animals for food 'if it's done humanely' and the animal has 'had a good life'. There are, he admits, two guiding principles to what he will and won't eat: one is based on a rational ethical evaluation – hence he'll only eat free-range meat – and the other, rather less rational consideration is a reluctance to put anything in his mouth that resembles a bit of dead animal. 'So I'm nearly a vegetarian apart from chicken and very, very heavily disguised meats. You can't put a thing on my table that looks like it could run round the planet. I don't want to see eyes or legs. I don't want to be reminded this was an air-breathing mammal.'

Not long ago, a restaurant in New York presented him with a complimentary soft-shell crab between courses 'which is a delicacy, and I had to say, "Sorry, I'm a vegetarian".' Then I thought, "Hold on, I ordered chicken". But I just couldn't cut into it.' So the crab went straight back to the kitchen.

He also no longer orders meat takeaways – he hasn't had one for more than a year – because 'I love a curry but as soon as I remember that it is probably a fattened tortured chicken that had no space all its life, I gag '.

In fact, he's getting to the point where soon all he'll eat is 'free-range organic chicken in sauce'. Will even that be jettisoned? You get the impression it will. (Jane already is a vegetarian.) 'I think I have a fundamentally different hard-wiring towards animals than some people. I've never understood it.'

There is something confusing about Gervais. He's a wannabe vegetarian who believes that the roast dinner is the king of dinners. He's a self-professed control freak who says he's embarrassed to send back a bowl of cold soup in a restaurant, lest anyone think he is doing the ' Do-you-know-who-I-am?' routine. He is also a man who, when he first made money and went to expensive restaurants, remembers 'saying to Jane: "Oh, they don't want to see someone like me in here". I didn't want to be the scummy one bringing the tone down.'

Yet if he orders a glass of champagne in a restaurant, he asks that it be served not in a champagne flute but in an ordinary wine glass. 'Because a flute annoys me. It's too hard to drink from. You have to tip it too far, poke your nose in it, so a wine glass is so much easier.' He doesn't know if 'that's gauche or wrong or terrible or what' but that's how it is. And he doesn't use a knife to eat (and anyway, there's no red meat to cut). 'I scoop things up with a fork. I lean on my elbow and eat with my right hand with a fork.'

That all said, Gervais seems extraordinarily comfortable in his own skin. He says he has six friends – he names them for me, none of them is famous apart from his co-writer Stephen Merchant, and he says that they all predate his fame – 'and I see them most days'. He says he doesn't need any more than that. Showbiz schmoozing is not for him – despite his blogging reference to David Baddiel, he has no time for dinner parties (he'll make excuses if ever he's invited) and doesn't entertain at home.

'We don't do "Let's invite the people we've met this year round". I've never done it. About six people have been to my house. It's my house. It's not a student union.'

Does this make him stand-offish? From the limited experience of watching the warm and open chap in front of me – he's not in the least bit arsey, which is what I'd expected – I'd say not. Does it make him a depressive? No, it does not. In fact it takes a certain kind of bravery to opt out of the sort of socialising many people feel duty bound to buy into.

'We don't go out much. We go out in New York probably more times a year than we do here. Here I'm home in my pyjamas by six o'clock.'

You're joking? No he's not. Though he may sometimes make a few business calls to America in the early evening, most nights he and Jane are plonked in front of the telly with a glass of wine in their hand and some food on their laps before the rest of London has finished their commute home.

'I'm busy lying on the couch in my pyjamas scooping cubes of chicken into my mouth with my right hands, using only a fork, drinking wine and watching telly.'

Nothing wrong with that, of course. In any case, if I've given the wrong impression of Gervais's stay-at-home tendencies, it won't be long before I'm put right.

In fact, on his blog he recorded details of his afternoon with OFM before I even sat down to write this piece. Heartbreakingly, our interview goes entirely unmentioned – it's only the photography session immediately afterwards and his two fellow cover stars that get a mention.

'Did a photo shoot with Michel Rouse [sic] and Giorgio Locatelli. It was for The Observer Food Monthly mag. At the beginning I joked that this would be interesting with three control freaks. They turned out to be very charming and accommodating. I was the only control freak. The pictures are fun though.'
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'I told you to do a Holocaust movie, Kate,'
12th January 2009

Stepping onto the stage to introduce a short preview of British comedy Happy-Go-Lucky, Gervais, 47, failed to make friends with his attempt to silence the audience. ‘Sssssh,’ he hissed. ‘How rude you lot are, just because you are film stars.’

But his banter became more risqué when he congratulated Kate Winslet for winning the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as a Nazi prison guard in The Reader. Clutching a drink in one hand and pointing at the Titanic star, he grinned: ‘Well done Winslet. I told you, do a Holocaust movie and the awards come, didn’t I?

Gervais’s joke referred to Winslet’s 2005 cameo role in comedy show Extras, during which she joked that she wanted to star in a Holocaust movie to secure an Oscar. But the crack seemed lost on a Los Angeles audience which included Steven Spielberg.

Dressed smartly in a Calvin Klein tuxedo, Gervais went on to make fun of his own lack of Globe nominations, and joked about his attempts to get one. ‘That’s the last time I have sex with 200 middle-aged journalists,’ he said of the Hollywood Foreign Press who give out the awards. ‘It was horrible. Europeans with wispy beards. And the men were worse.’

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ricky Gervais In Sesame Street

Ricky Gervais is to appear in long-running US children's series Sesame Street. The episode, to be filmed in New York next month, will see The Office star singing a self-penned song to furry red monster Elmo.

"I've always liked the show and, as a failed rock star, I try to squeeze in the odd composition whenever possible," said Gervais.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


RICKY GERVAIS refuses to read fans' opinions about his comedy shows because he's convinced he knows best.The Office creator recently described people who criticise celebrities in online forums as "deficient in some way", insisting it's equal to responding to inane graffiti on toilet walls. But he has now qualified his comments, fearing he has offended fans.

He says, "It was not aimed at anyone in particular, no particular forum or fansite as I never read those things. I read a couple a few years ago and, as sweet and flattering as it was, it isn't healthy. With everyone in the world having strong and completely different opinions on the minutiae of your work, it might start influencing your decisions... I appreciate that fans have views on my work - I just don't want to hear them. I don't mean that in a bad way, I mean I don't take notes.

"It's not that I think I know better than everyone else in the world; it's just that I feel the best work is never done by committee or by pandering to the most popular suggestions. I think I have the best fans in the world. The stuff I've produced over the past few years could never have been the success it was without the initial dedication of the hard core few. However I wouldn't want to be stuck in a lift with them."


He's not checked what people have said about him in the last few years? Yeah right! If I were stuck in a lift with him I'd keep his spirits up by mimicking his famous dance routine from The Office. That would be great...
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

New PETA advert, featuring Gervais...
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ricky Gervais on Sesame Street...
By Donna McConnell
13th March 2009

Comic Ricky Gervais is known for his close-to-the-bone comedy. And it appears that even in an appearance on iconic children's show Sesame Street alongside Elmo, the Extras star just couldn't let it lie. A two minute outtake clip released on the internet reveals that not all of his appearance will be suitable for the show's target audience.

In the forthcoming 40th anniversary Sesame Street episode, featuring Ricky and Elmo, Ricky complains to the orange muppet, 'I'm the only one here today not getting paid. 'Tell the cameraman he's not getting paid, see what he'd do, and the grip. I'm the only one not getting paid.' But then he admits that charity is its own reward.

He then asks Elmo, 'Why do you wear pyjamas when you go to bed when you're naked the rest of the time?' Elmo replies: 'It's called acting Mr Gervais, acting!' The show's director can be heard giggling in the background, prompting Elmo shouts: 'Where did you lose this interview'. Gervais then gives Elmo some advice on what topics he should avoid, namely drugs, child abuse, and the Holocaust. All topics he freely discusses during his own stand-up show.

Then he asks the cuddly character, 'do you know what 'necrophilia is?', to which Elmo replies: 'I'm a watch this tape'. At the end they sing a song together about 'setting your piggies free' a song they do on the show about toes.

Tonight Gervais will appear on a sketch for BBC's Comic Relief, but he wrote that he deliberately 'avoided giving the BBC any clips, photos or other publicity material for it'. He wrote: 'I just think it should be a nice bonus on the night as opposed to boring people for weeks about what's coming up. Also I'm scared they'll give away surprises for the sake of column inches.

And in an earlier post, ahead of the sketch's recording he wrote: 'We're recording our bit for Comic Relief tomorrow. I wont be watching on the night as I'm already sick to death of all of it. (Well, not "sick to death" obviously. It's making money for people who are "sick to death". Bad use of words. Sorry.)'

The 40th season of Sesame Street will be broadcast on channel PBS in November in the US. The forthcoming season will feature guest appearances by Cameron Diaz , Maggie Gyllenhaal and Adam Sandler. Last summer, soccer star David Beckham made a guest appearance on the popular show.
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