Ricky Gervais won a Golden Globe back in 2004 for his starring role in the original British version of "The Office." He hosted the Globes a few times, to much fanfare. And in January, he'll be back again as a nominee for his starring role in the Netflix comedy series "Derek." He's about to bring an end to the series in the U.K., but he won't rule out revisiting the character, even if it's a decade from now. He spoke with Yvonne Villarreal by phone.
Is it sort of bittersweet? You’re preparing to bid farewell to the character in the U.K.—
Yeah, well, I mean, it's funny, actually. I try to always keep doing two series and a special. I did it with "The Office" and "Extras" and "Idiot Abroad." I was tempted to do a third with "Derek" just because I loved the character so much. There's a real emotional connection with the characters from "Derek." And then I got the Emmy nod and I thought I should do a third. But then I thought the old formula worked for me in the past. Now even with the Globe nomination, I think it was the right decision. It's not really forever. I can always change my mind. I'm bringing David Brent ("The Office") back for a movie after 12 or 13 years. The character of Derek doesn’t die. So you never know. I think it's worked for me in the past to be in and out and then move on to something else. I'm not regretting the decision.
What is this show about, to you?
I suppose Derek is sort of the first hero I've ever played. I usually play monsters whose foibles -- vanity and pretension -- are their own fault. But with Derek, they are trivial. Bad hair, a shuffle, a funny vocal pattern. They are things that have made him look like this odd guy, but then his kindness trumped everything. And that was the point. I wanted people to look like outsiders and forgotten. It takes place in an old people's home and it's about care. I wanted to get back to ordinary folk. It's unusual for a TV show to look at these sorts of characters, but it's real life. These people don't look like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt or George Clooney. In real life, people do have bad hair and shuffles. We don't walk around looking like Johnny Depp all the time. Well, wait, I do, but most people don't.
What about the Netflix relationship -- what has that been like?
It's amazing. It's perfect for me. I've always tried to get final cut on everything I do. I get my own way. I sort of try to do it all myself. But to do that, I usually have to try to find fringe channels -- BBC2, Channel 4 (in the U.K.), HBO. But now Netflix comes along and they give me that total freedom, but with sort of network ratings because the sky is the limit on the Internet. You want as many people to see your work, but with no compromise. I deal with Ted [Sarandos], the head of programming, and he's just a great normal guy who loves TV. He's sort of changed the model. He hasn't changed the art form. He's just pandered to the way people watch TV. They want it now and they want it all at once. It really got everyone running scared, and yet they are now all trying to mimic the model. When I sent an email to Ted three years ago, I said I want to do a show with Netflix because I think it's the future. And now it's the present.
Emails! I hope you didn't also call Angeline Jolie a spoiled brat in those emails. Does this whole Sony thing have you worried about the emails you send??
You can't worry about that stuff. People chat in private differently to the way they want to be heard. It's not their fault they got hacked. I don't think you should ever be ashamed of what you say in a private email. Unless you’re doing something illegal.
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