Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Ricky Gervais' full interview with Notebook Magazine in the Sunday Mirror 13/04/14

Ricky Gervais is channelling his inner Louie Spence, high-kicking for our photographer on repeat, until he gets just the right shot. He finds the whole thing hilarious- that infamous laugh, the one with no build up, form nowhere to peeing his pants hysteria in nought to five seconds, coming out over and over. "It's all getting worryingly Lionel Blair, isn't it?" he says.
A lot of things have been said about Ricky Gervais and the biggest misconception is probably one of arrogance. Actually he's rather normal considering his ludicrous levels of success. Sure, he's got 'people' fluttering around him, but he likes to do things himself (he even pays his own phone bills).
And though he must have met thousands of fawning folks, he remembers us from years back when we last met him. Famous people always say that, but they are almost always lying, whereas Ricky remembers actual details of what we talked about and all sorts. He's also a bit unexpectedly serious at times, though there's always a funny moment lurking just seconds away. 
There's no need to list his CV, we'd be here until Christmas, so we'll go for the edited highlights.
First there was The Office, then Extras when Hollywood knocked on the door, hosting the Golden Globes and co-writing and guest starring in The Simpsons. Then there was An Idiot Abroad, Life's Too Short and movie roles, now there's Muppets Most Wanted and his pet project Derek, about to start it's second series.
Not bad for a failed pop star from Reading, the 'laziest, least ambitious person in the world' who didn't get a job until he was 28......

'You've been famous for a good while now, and in the last few years you've become really famous. Is it a nightmare sometimes?'
I dreaded being famous before I was famous, and for the first half of being famous, but now I realise it's OK. People's opinions don't matter. I don't just have a thick skin, i actually quite like it when I get grief from people. This morning a postman from Hull tweeted me saying he was disappointed I did the Muppet movie and I was like. "Really mate?! I'm having a laugh And they paid me". Why do they think they can ruin my day? I love every day. It would only upset me if it was lies. If someone said I had illegal dog fights in my basement I'd sue them. If they say "He's the least funny person on the planet", it's an opinion.

'What's the weirdest thing that's been written about you?'
Someone said I had a boxing ring in my house which was quite weird, and because I have steel shutters around my house that come down when I'm away, they said I spend my evenings sat in a 3,000 square foot safe in the dark...

'Can you do anything without being recognised?'
I went to see a title fight with Joe Calzaghe at Madison Square Garden in New York. I went to the loo and this guy is like, 'Hey mate, can I have a picture?' Arm straight round me, doing a selfie while I'm in the middle of a wee. I didn't even have a chance to say, "Can we leave it a minute mate?"
There's a lot of testosterone at those things, you don't want to say no. All I could think was, 'How wide angled was that lens?" "What did he get in?"

'How've you "kept it real"? There must be some diva moments......
I can do what I want and I turn down 90% of the jobs I'm offered, so that makes me spoilt. But I feel sorry for people who become famous young because it's all over by the time they're 25 and they've probably done things they're going to regret for the rest of their lives. For me, everything was already in place, I had a stable relationship, friends. There is hard work, but I can't count it as work when my dad got up at 5am every day and carried bricks around. How can I complain?

It must be terrifying doing things like hosting the Golden Globes.
I don't get nervous, it's nice to be the most feared man in Hollywood. It's like the spider thing, actors are much more scared of me than I am of them.

Tell us about The Muppets. How did they compare to working with humans?
They're real. I don't think of them as being operated by anyone. I still miss them, they're my little mates. I want to go into a restaurant and be like "Ah, there's Constantine, can I join you mate?" He soon became my favourite Muppet, he's so angry and bitter and rude. I wanted to keep hugging them all and rub their pot bellies, and I kept scratching their heads thinking they's like it. It's a man's hand!

'What about when they're, you know, not working?'
I don't look at them, I can't. I'm like "Where've you been?" and they're like "In a box in New Jersey"...

What's David Brent up to?
Everything's got slightly worse, he's not even a manager any more, he's a rep, he's 50 and still trying to be a pop star in a shiny suit. There's even more desperation. I thought it'd be funny to do a documentary of Brent on tour-he thinks it's like Scorsese doing the Rolling Stones but really it's a "Where are they now?" show, like something from ITV2. They'll find out he's cashed his pension in to make his album. I might do another series, it won't be The Office, though, because you've got to move on.

What's on your bucket list? There can't be much left?
Have a house that looks out onto my own animal sanctuary. Buy a bit of Surrey and get lots of three legged dogs and blind donkeys. Wake up, open the windows and hear a Disney song start, it'll be all "Zippedee-doo-da" and "Hey Mr Squirrel, here's a nut".

What's the most extravagant thing you've ever bought? 
Works of art. Expensive guitars. Erm, a swimming pool. Inside. A virtual golf course in the basement. A gym. But that's health isn't it? Everyone's got a gym in their house haven't they?
That's embarassing. This has gone terribly wrong hasn't it? I was a man of the people for the first five minutes. Yeah, I've got a private jet in my house that takes off from my swimming pool, flies over the golf course and leads into the kitchen. Oh dear, I should be like, "Oh, an old cardigan from a jumble sale".

Describe yourself in three words.
I'd like to say funny! Honest. I'm alright. the character Derek is me before the world made me cynical. i have the same values deep down. I am annoying though.

What would your partner Jane say is the most irritating thing about you?
She hates me sneezing loudly. And she says "What did I say?" and I say "What?" I'm preoccupied a lot. But she's the same as me. We just watch crap telly and take the mickey out of our cat.

What will be written on your tombstone?
He had a laugh. Or 'Out of Office'. That'll be the newspaper headline when I die, won't it?

The low-down on Derek.....

Derek, your sitcom about the residents of a care home is back soon. This show seems super-close to your heart....
I didn't think you could do a sitcom like that, and then I thought, "Why not?' My mum, sister, sister-in-law and now their kids are all carers, so I've got 30 years of anecdotes. I've always written about what I know-Gareth from The Office is a boy I went to school with, which is why he acts like a 14 year old. Tim is based on an unhappy wisecracker from my first job and Brent is a Frankenstein of people. There's a bit of Brent in all of us- we all want to be loved and think we're important.

Does it bug you that people call Derek controversial?
I think they haven't watched it yet. They're just assuming it's going to be cruel.

You're known for cracking up and corpsing on set.....
What makes me corpse most is Kev chatting up the old women. There was a scene with Kev telling Derek what he does to Janice in the caravan. Every time he said "I like to back her in, I leave the business end near the door because if she was to reverse in I wouldn't have a chance". I literally couldn't get through it, so it's not in the show.

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