Ricky Gervais attends a screening of Netflix’s After Life
at the Paley Center for Media on Thursday, March 7, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
“Apart from the gigs that were postponed, my life hasn’t changed much,” the star of Netflix’s After Life said. “I didn’t go out a lot, and there’s always enough booze in the house for a nuclear winter. You won’t hear me complain. Not when, every day, I see some millionaire celebrity going, ‘I’m sad that I’m not on telly tonight.’ Or, ‘I had a swim in the pool that made me feel a little bit better.’”
At that point, he began to sing, “Imagine there’s no heaven…,” a reference to the Gal Gadot-led cover of the John Lennon song that faced such backlash that even the participants are embarrassed over it. (“Just donate money” instead was a criticism of the failed effort.)
But Gervias made it clear — he’s not a celebrity hater. He just doesn’t think what they say and do should be treated as gospel.
“I’ve got nothing against anyone being a celebrity or being famous,” he said. “I think that people are just a bit tired of being lectured to. Now celebrities think: ‘The general public needs to see my face. They can’t get to the cinema — I need to do something.’ And it’s when you look into their eyes, you know that, even if they’re doing something good, they’re sort of thinking, ‘I could weep at what a good person I am.’ Oh dear.”
And just because he called out celebrities at the Globes — for “using their privileged, global platform to tell the world what they believe,” he said that night — doesn’t mean he has been shunned in Hollywood or has to watch his back.
“The world hasn’t changed,” he said.” No one looks at me differently. And I’ve got nothing against those people, really. I think that’s the mistake people make: They think that every joke is a window to the comedian’s soul — because I wrote it and performed it under my own name, that that’s really me. And that’s just not true. I’ll flip a joke halfway through and change my stance to make the joke better. I’ll pretend to be right wing, left wing, whatever wing, no wing.”
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He said his m.o. is to “go after the richest people in the room” and that night it also included “NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press [Association], which organises the Globes. “I’ve got to be a court jester, but a court jester’s got to make sure that he doesn’t get executed as well. I’ve got to make all the peasants laugh at the king, but the king’s sort of got to like it.”
After the show he found that he now has fans in some politic conservatives — but he said they probably haven’t stuck around because they don’t have all that much in common.
“I didn’t notice [the new Twitter followers],” he said, “until a couple of disgruntled liberal elites suddenly said, ‘Oh, Gervais is alt-right now.’ And I went, ‘What?’”
He asked, “What’s right-wing about taking the mickey out of the richest, most powerful corporations on the planet? But I’ve had this before. People that followed me, if they were far right, they’re probably not atheists like me. They probably don’t like some of the language that I use. They probably don’t agree with my anti-trophy hunting stance. In general, I think most normal people follow a person for a particular reason or two. If the tweets I hate outnumber the ones I like, I’ll unfollow him. No one has to be perfect to have friends. They just have to be, on balance, OK.”
Gervais agreed to host the 2020 Globes for the fifth and very last time. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are set to host the show again in 2021 — if awards shows are still a thing amid the pandemic.