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September 1, 2014

5 Questions With: Ricky Gervais

by Kim Potts, posted Mar 31st 2009 6:00AM
"I know every little movement he does, with his neck, with his eyes, with his laugh, and I want to kiss him. I do!"

British comedian Ricky Gervais has conquered all media: from TV ('The Office', 'Extras') and movies ('Night at the Museum') to books, a blog, podcasts and, most recently, an HBO stand-up special, 'Out of England.'

The DVD for 'Out of England,' which aired on HBO last fall, hits stores on March 31, and captures the funny guy's first American stand-up tour, in which he managed to make un-PC jokes on such far-ranging topics as animals, fame, obesity, Nazis, gay sex and ... charity fundraising?

Next up, Gervais makes his movie directorial debut with the comedy 'This Side of the Truth' (fall 2009), co-starring Tina Fey, Christopher Guest and Jennifer Garner. But first, he talked to AOL TV about why his fave part of 'Out of England' is the gay sex, why his most beloved co-star is small and red ... and whether David Brent will ever road trip to Scranton.


British comedian Ricky Gervais has conquered all media: from TV ('The Office', 'Extras') and movies ('Night at the Museum') to books, a blog, podcasts and, most recently, an HBO stand-up special, 'Out of England.'

The DVD for 'Out of England,' which aired on HBO last fall, hits stores on March 31, and captures the funny guy's first American stand-up tour, in which he managed to make un-PC jokes on such far-ranging topics as animals, fame, obesity, Nazis, gay sex and ... charity fundraising?

Next up, Gervais makes his movie directorial debut with the comedy 'This Side of the Truth' (fall 2009), co-starring Tina Fey, Christopher Guest and Jennifer Garner. But first, he talked to AOL TV about why his fave part of 'Out of England' is the gay sex, why his most beloved co-star is small and red ... and whether David Brent will ever road trip to Scranton.

1. What's your favorite part of 'Out of England'? You tell the story about the AIDS/safe-sex pamphlet with such glee ...
That's my favorite. It's the funniest leaflet I've ever seen. I still have it, though I could use a new copy of it, because I carried it around in my pocket for three months. What's so great about it is that it's done with such good will, and wasn't meant to be funny, wasn't done in an attempt to get a laugh. It was meant to be hard hitting, but the language of it is just so matter-of-fact. The [organization] that did the leaflet liked the [stand-up material] so much that they sent me two more pamphlets about gay sex and said "Do something on this." So I think someone there knows how funny it really is.

Ricky Gervais Photos

    ** FILE ** In this Jan. 11, 2009 file photo, Ricky Gervais laughs backstage at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J.Terrill, file)

    AP

    ** FILE ** In this Jan. 11, 2009 file photo, Ricky Gervais poses for a photo backstage at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J.Terrill, file)

    AP

    Actor Ricky Gervais poes in the press room at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California.

    Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

    Actor Ricky Gervais in Giorgio Armani 664 sunglasses poses with the Solstice Sunglass Boutique-Safilo USA display during the HBO Luxury Lounge in honor of the 66th Annual Golden Globes held at the Four Seasons Hotel on January 10, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California.

    Ray Mickshaw/WireImage.com

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: Actor-presenter Ricky Gervais poses in the press room at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ricky Gervais

    Getty Images

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Actor Ricky Gervais (L) and Jane Fallon pose at the 66th Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon) *** Local Caption *** Jane Fallon

    Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Actor Adrian Grenier (L) and actor Ricky Gervais pose at the 66th Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon) *** Local Caption *** Adrian Grenier;Ricky Gervais

    Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

    Actor Ricky Gervais (L) and producer Jane Fallon arrive at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. AFP PHOTO/ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    Actor Ricky Gervais arrives at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. AFP PHOTO/ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    BEVERLY HILTON, CA - JANUARY 11: Actor Ricky Gervais (L) and producer Jane Fallon arrive at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ricky Gervais;Jane Fallon

    Getty Images



2. Did anything surprise you about the American audiences while you were doing the tour?
Well, honestly, I should say no, because I love doing stand-up more than ever, and it was because not only did the [American] audiences get everything, but they got every single thing as easily as the British audiences did. I absolutely loved these smart audiences, and I've got nothing but good things to say about the crowds. But then, I don't think it's any secret -- and the British hate me for saying this -- but all my influences are American. I love American TV, from 'Seinfeld' and Larry David to my favorite new shows like 'Dexter' and 'Damages.' I still love '24.' And comedy-wise, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Christopher Guest ... and my favorite stand-ups have all been American, Richard Pryor through to Chris Rock and my favorite at the moment, Louis C.K.

The Office3. Once and for all, are you or are you not going to bring David Brent to Scranton as a guest star on 'The Office'?
[Laughs] Well, I got a panicked e-mail from Rainn Wilson saying "I never said this!" They had attributed it to him, but he'd never said it, and then before I could deny it, another [media outlet] was saying it wasn't true. But, no, it's not true, it's not true. Not that I wouldn't, and we had talked about it in the early days of the show, but then I thought, you know, not yet, it would just be a little strange. Now I think it would be fine, you know, maybe for like the 100th episode or something. But I think I'd rather not make an appearance as David Brent. [The U.S. 'Office'] has its own. I think it would be funnier to have Jim or someone watching a DVD of 'Extras,' and Michael Scott walks by and says, "Oh, I hate that guy. But if they ever do an American remake, I could play that part."

4. Another idea you had for a TV show, 'The Men at the Pru,' set in an insurance company in the '70s, you're now doing as a movie instead?
Yes, but we're going to do it as a TV show eventually as well. ['The Office' and 'Extras' collaborator Stephen Merchant] and I are very excited about it. We secretly want this to be our masterpiece. And I shouldn't have said that out loud. But really, we think it's potentially going to be the best thing we've ever done. So we'll do the movie, and then a couple of years down the line, hopefully do a spin-off series with BBC or HBO. That worked out pretty well for 'M*A*S*H,' right?

5. You've worked with so many great people ... anyone still on your wish list?
Oh, of course. I mean, the obvious ones, really. Jack -- you know, people who are referred to by their first name. [Laughs] De Niro again. Al Pacino. Dustin Hoffman. Clint Eastwood. But, I can tell you that, definitively, the highlight of my career has already happened. Robert De Niro? No. David Bowie? No. 'The Simpsons'? No. The absolute highlight of my career was working with Elmo. No doubt about it. I've never watched 'Extras' since it went out. I never watched 'The Office' when it went out. I went to the 'Ghost Town' premiere and that's it. But I've watched that YouTube clip of me and Elmo about 25 times, because I can't get enough of him. I know every little movement he does, with his neck, with his eyes, with his laugh, and I want to kiss him. I do! I'm angry that a man is operating him, because I wish he was real. I couldn't stop laughing, like I was a kid in a sweets shop. Every time he opened his mouth ... I'm thinking about him now, and I'm smiling. I don't know what it is. I've always liked animals and creatures, and he's like everything I love in the world. He's a beautiful little innocent animal that talks.




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