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Meet the host: Ricky Gervais' global reach

"I'm going to take the opportunity to roast every actor in that room that's more successful and better-looking than me."

December 02, 2009|By Christy Grosz
  • Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globes this January.
Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globes this January. (Ken Fallin / For The Times )

His name had been floated out there so often that even Ricky Gervais himself had read the rumors that he might host the Emmys, the Golden Globes or the Oscars this year. So when the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. announced in October that Gervais was their emcee, it was a welcome, if not entirely surprising, revelation to fans. This marks the first time the Globes has had a host since 1995, and Gervais -- the British comedian best known for creating and starring in the original "The Office" -- is sure to strike the right chord for the somewhat relaxed affair. In fact, he points out that what makes him the right choice for the HFPA makes him exactly the wrong choice for the motion picture academy: "Because an Oscar is quite literally life-changing, I don't think they want someone pratting about, making jokes about them."

He mused about his new gig and his upcoming projects in a recent interview.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview on a Sunday.

It's my only day off this week. As usual, I'm doing at least two full-time jobs at once. I got into this business to avoid work, and it all went horribly wrong. I went from the laziest person in the world to being a workaholic almost against my will.

Were you surprised when the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. asked you to host this year's Golden Globes?

I was flattered, certainly. It's my favorite [ceremony] to be at. It's great because there's people wandering around, like Jack Nicholson, and he's acting like he's at a barbecue at his house. There's still that bit in me, and I don't know if it's being British or just being me, [in which] I go into restaurants and I think, "Oh, they don't want to see me in here. I don't want to ruin their meal." When "The Office" went so well, we moved to this wonderful neighborhood, Hampstead. And I felt a little sorry for them, having to live next door to me.

Do you have any plans about how you might change the ceremony?

I'm going to take the opportunity to roast every actor in that room that's more successful and better-looking than me.

Have you started assembling writers yet?

I write all my own material; I've never used writers. The writing is the most important thing to me. I realize the only reason I ever produced or directed is to protect the writing. Are you nervous about being in front of 25 million people?

This is like my bungee jumping. I try my best, I'm quite a perfectionist with my work, but everything I do has to at least run the risk of me ending my career. Otherwise, it's just not worth doing.

Who are you most interested in meeting backstage?

No one. I avoid them all. I'm like Howard Hughes. The only time I talk to Hollywood A-listers is getting them in my sitcom for much less than they usually get paid. I consider that a coup. I don't want to mix with them afterward. What have they got to say to me?

Can you talk about HBO's plans for your iTunes podcasts?

We've got a date for that. I don't know if anyone knows this. It's the 19th of February. That's the first [episode] of "The Ricky Gervais Show." They've taken the audiobooks and they've animated them. It's honestly the most exciting thing I've ever done. I mean, it was good in audio, but now it comes to life and it's lovely and retro. They've got about 40 hours to animate. It's someone else doing all the work.

You've also written a new film with Stephen Merchant called "Cemetery Man," which stars Ralph Fiennes.

It's the best thing I've ever done. It's the most dramatic we've been. It's like our "Saturday Night Fever" or "Rebel Without a Cause." (Pauses) I've built it up too much. I went from one extreme to the other. Pretend you said all that. All the stuff when I was saying I was rubbish, say it was me. Then all the stuff where I said I was brilliant, just put it as you saying it.

Did you hear that " Twilight's" Robert Pattinson named you as the one person he'd most like to kiss under the mistletoe?

Thirteen-year-old girls are very upset -- or confused. When you have the paparazzi camping out your every move, who can [you] say that there will be absolutely no threat, [so] it will be an obvious joke? I know: the fattest Englishman ever to make it in America. The fattest, shortest, crooked-toothed thing from Dickensian times. They're good teeth, and they're all real -- they're just shaped like the ones he wears in his films. That's probably why. He thought I was a vampire. One of the fat vampires, so a very successful bloodsucker. He's thinking, "He must get loads of blood. Look at him."

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