Ricky Gervais so fully embodies the characters he’s created and played in “The Office” and “Extras” that it’s somewhat jarring to sit down and talk with him.
You expect him to be the delusional, well-meaning loser. In real life, he’s anything but.
Gervais is extremely well aware of what’s made him so well-regarded, if not quite famous. He’s friendly, laughs a lot and is obviously confident in his abilities, as well he should be.
He recently spoke about his role in “Ghost Town,” a romantic comedy that opened Friday, and why the American version of “The Office” has succeeded.
Q: You seemed like you enjoyed yourself in “Ghost Town.”
A: Yeah, it felt like it was all the fun without the responsibility, which was nice. … The great thing about that sort of film is that we could ad-lib every scene. Every scene we did something else, and he (director David Koepp) obviously cherry-picked. You can probably tell.
Q: We know you from your own creations. What’s it like to be an actor for hire?
A: I don’t do it, basically. I don’t do it. This is one that got through the net for many reasons. … I’ve probably been offered 100 films. Fifty of them were awful, probably half of those were awful Brit-coms with loads of people off of British TV that probably shouldn’t even be a film, and it’s advertised on the side of a bus and then goes to DVD for a week. … People jump too early. “Look at me, I’m in a film.” Yeah, it’s a rubbish film. It shouldn’t even have been a film. Who cares?
Q: You’ve said before that you’re not a movie star. Yet here you are, starring in a romantic comedy.
A: I’m not a Tom Cruise movie star. I’m not George Clooney. I’m still a putz (in the film). It’s still what I do. … If somebody says, “Do you want to be the new lead in ‘The Matrix,” I would go, “You’re having a … laugh. Of course not. But if you want a middle-aged putz for hire, then I’m your man.”
Q: The inevitable question about the success of the American version of “The Office”: Were you surprised it worked here?
A: I think it was all ready-made for America. … It wasn’t about the office in England. It was about boy meets girl, wasted life, all those things.
The birthday bunch
Actor Larry Hagman is 77. Poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen is 74. Author Stephen King is 61. Actor Bill Murray is 58. Filmmaker Ethan Coen is 51. Actor-comedian Dave Coulier is 49. Actor David James Elliott (“JAG”) is 48. Actress Nancy Travis is 47. Actor Rob Morrow is 46. Actress Cheryl Hines is 43. Country singer Faith Hill is 41. Actress-talk host Ricki Lake is 40. Actor Luke Wilson is 37. Actress Nicole Richie (“The Simple Life”) is 27. Actress Maggie Grace (“Lost”) is 25.