Hollywood, prepare to grin and bear it.
Still not aspiring to the title of Mr. Nice Guy, Ricky Gervais is returning for a third time — and he says the last time — as host of the Golden Globe Awards this Sunday (Jan. 15, airing at 8 pm EST on NBC).
Making like Don Rickles, the English comedian managed to offend both the sponsoring Hollywood Foreign Press Association and some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, captured by cameras looking more than a little peeved, at last year’s awards. Among Gervais’ memorable quips:
• “Next up, Eva Longoria has the daunting task of introducing the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press. That’s nothing! I just had to help him off the toilet and pop his teeth in.”
• “It’s going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking. Or, as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast.”
• “[Robert Downey Jr. is] the star of Iron Man, Two Girls and a Guy, Wonderboys. Sorry, are these porn films? Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Bowfinger. Really! Up the Academy. He has done all those films, but many of you in this room probably know him from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail.”
As the creator and star of the original British version of The Office continued along in his merry, insulting way, there were grimaces and expressions of unhappiness in the room. (Downey Jr. said Gervais was “hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones.”) But ratings were solid and attention was paid. In Hollywood, that’s cause for a return engagement.
“Usually you have to kill someone to get that much publicity,” Gervais told Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, while appearing on their show shortly after the Globes. Here, from Gervais’ own web site, is his video wrap-up of how he shook up the Globes:
Gervais has promised that no one will be editing his remarks this Sunday. (Indeed, NBC’s promotional poster for the awards show features a photo of a gagged Gervais snipping away at the fabric muzzle with scissors.) In a blog post last November, Gervais wrote that last year’s outrage by the Hollywood community was an overreaction to his remarks but promised, “This year I’m going to make sure their offense is completely justified.”
As for the awards themselves, in a year in which no film or star is yet an absolute favorite to clean up at the Oscars, it is expected that the handing out of Globes on Sunday night will help narrow the field.
Globes are given out for both Best Drama and Best Musical or Comedy. War Horse, the Steven Spielberg epic set during World War I, is the film with the strongest British credentials in the drama category. It is set in England, was shot there, and is based on a bestselling novel by British author Michael Morpurgo. Also nominated in the drama section is Hugo, a family film that director Martin Scorsese shot in England (though it takes place in Paris).
In the musical and comedy category, My Week With Marilyn is nominated. The British movie, about Marilyn Monroe’s stay in England while shooting The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) with Laurence Olivier, is based on memoirs by British TV producer Colin Clark and is directed by the London-born Simon Curtis.
Anglophiles will likely be rooting for Scotswoman Tilda Swinton, who is nominated for Best Actress in a Drama for We Need to Talk About Kevin; London-based star Michael Fassbender (he’s of Irish-German descent), who is up for Best Actor in a Drama for Shame; Kate Winslet, who is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Carnage; and Irishman Brendan Gleeson who is up for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for The Guard.
In the supporting actor category (for which drama, comedy and musicals are all lumped together), Kenneth Branagh is a contender for his portrayal of Olivier in My Week with Marilyn and, on the distaff side, Janet McTeer is up for her impressive turn in Albert Nobbs.
Unlike the Oscars, which only reward endeavors in cinema, Golden Globes are also handed out to TV shows and stars. The tube category is far more Brit-heavy this year than the film one, with the performance division especially crammed. For example, four out of the five nominations for Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie are either British or England-based stars: Romola Garai (BBC America’s The Hour); Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey); Emily Watson (Appropriate Adult); and Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce). The same is true in the men’s category: Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey); Idris Elba (BBC America’s Luther); Bill Nighy (Page Eight); and Dominic West (BBC America’s The Hour).
Our favorite nomination of all: Maggie Smith for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV movie, for Downton Abbey. If Dame Maggie doesn’t win, Gervais will really have good reason to hurl insults.
Do you plan to watch the Golden Globes?