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Tomb With A View
Having turned British comedy on its head with The Office, Ricky Gervais now aims to save English cinema from its worst kitchen-sink tendencies. We speak to him from the set of his new Brit-comedy, Cemetery Junction.
Tara Brady, 19 Apr 2010
It’s just another bright wintry day at historic Pinewood Studios. The commotion behind those trees is Russell Crowe leading a charge in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. And somewhere down the end of David Lean Drive, in a network of vast studios, Ricky Gervais is presiding over Cemetery Junction, his second feature film as director.
Or he will be later on.
It’s not ten yet and as several bemused crew members point out, writer-director Ricky shows up at ten and leaves before six, like he’s still working in an office, not The Office.
It’s only later when he wanders over to entertain me with his camp pantomime genie routine between takes that I start to see the rationale behind the union friendly hours.
“Ooh, coffee’s not up to much today,” he lisps and flaps. “You must be thinking I could be over the way drinking the stuff they keep for Russell Crowe. Bet that puts hairs on your chest.”
And on he goes. Don’t get me wrong; these mini-routines are wonderful. But it must be exhausting when you’re Ricky Gervais.
In addition to stadium-selling stand up performances, the hit TV shows, the Hollywood breaks, the best-selling books, the record breaking podcasts, the spanking new HBO animation series, there is, before me, considerable evidence to suggest that Mr. Gervais is always, always on.
“I am available at a competitive flat rate,” he suggests.
Thus Cemetery Junction, his follow up to last year’s underappreciated The Invention of Lying, is one of those rare shoots that has played host to a different journalist everyday; the producers and publicity agents have nothing to lose by sending reporters to this set.
Today I may not see enough scenes to gauge whether the new film will be funny, but I do know that making the thing was downright hilarious.
“They’ve even got an application on the iPod for doing interviews now,” he says, nudging his mate and collaborator, Stephen Merchant before the pair launch into what could be one of their podcasts. “Amazing, innit?”