A few days ago, I attended the press conference for Ricky Gervais’ new film “The Invention of Lying” at the Toronto Film Festival. While you usually have to wait for the stars to arrive, Ricky showed up a few minutes early and when I went to put my recorder down, I managed to ask him a number of questions about his next project with Stephen Merchant called “Cemetery Junction”. If you’re a fan of “Extras” or the British version of “The Office”, Ricky and Stephen Merchant created the shows together and “Cemetery Junction” is the first film they’ve written and directed together.
Anyway, he told me while filming only recently finished, they’ve already done a friends and family screening and it turned out quite well. He also called the movie his “Saturday Night Fever”. For more on the project and his new HBO animated series “The Ricky Gervais Show”, it’s after the jump:
He says that the Bruce Springsteen song Thunder Road inspired them and as I said before, he called the film his “Saturday Night Fever”. Clearly, this film is going to be a departure from the previous work we’ve all come to love.
The other thing we talked about was his new HBO animated show called “The Ricky Gervais Show”. It’s based on his very popular podcast series with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington and it’ll premiere on HBO this January. He says it’s a thirteen part series and he is “so excited because the world is going to get another Homer Simpson in Karl Pilkington.”
Here’s exactly what he said about both “Cemetery Junction” and “The Ricky Gervais Show”.
Collider: How is “Cemetery Junction” going?
Ricky Gervais: Great. It’s going great. We’re editing it now. We just did a friends and family screening and it got a fantastic reaction. It’s very different to this (
“Invention of Lying”).
For people who aren’t familiar with the project, could you say what it’s about?
Ricky: I suppose it’s about class. It’s a romantic drama I suppose. It’s funny though. It’s sort of a return to what Steve and I do best…the minutia of human behavior. It’s set in the early 70’s and it’s about a group of twenty something’s that try to escape that stifling small town sort of mentality. One of the lines that inspired us is from Thunder Road. It’s a town full of losers and we’re pulling out of here to win. It’s like our “Saturday Night Fever”.
Is this autobiographical?
Ricky: Well, everything you do is autobiographical. Yeah, I grew up in a town called Redding and I had older brothers and sisters so it’s all my memories of growing up. It’s not a depressing, gritty British movie about blue collar and working class…it’s quite a celebration of that. I had great memories of growing up in a working class estate. I remember it being sunny all the time. So we’re putting that on screen. It’s not people wallowing in degradation. There was a nobility in poverty when I was growing up. My mom was poor but she was planting roses and she was cleaning the steps, you know what I mean. You didn’t feel sorry for yourself.
Who did you cast?
Ricky: We cast wide and new. So it’s four completely unknown’s. The terrible thing in England is if you interview a thousand people, five hundred of them will talk like they’re going into a Guy Ritchie movie and the other five hundred will be Mr. Darcy. So we had to find cool, working class kids with no profile who could be John Travolta and James Dean and people like that.
So this is going to be a really personal film.
Ricky: It is. It’s a much smaller film.
One last question, are you thinking about doing any other TV stuff?
Ricky: We’re developing a show right now for HBO and it’ll be out in January. It’s thirteen parts and it’s animated. It’s based on the podcasts. That’s our next TV thing.
During the press conference he talked a bit more about the show. He said, “I’m so excited because the world is going to get another Homer Simpson in Karl Pilkington. And unlike Homer, who you can never meet as it’s twenty writers and an actor doing a voice, you can meet Karl Pilkington. That’s the joy. He’s real. It’s so much funnier that it’s not scripted and he’s not acting. He’s not a comedian. He’s just a strange little round headed oddity. So that’s coming to HBO in January.”
What is it called?
Even though he’s the star, it’s called The Ricky Gervais show cause that what’s the podcasts were called. Again, it’s a trojan horse to get Karl out there. I just want Karl to be famous cause I know he’ll hate it. That’s the fun for me. I want people to be shouting at him, “you’ve got a round head” on the street. That’s what friends are for.