On Sunday, Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globe Awards for a record fifth time – and Hollywood’s great and good might want to brace themselves. The British actor-writer-comedian is known for his close-to-the-bone jokes, telling the audience in 2010: “Looking at all the wonderful faces here today reminds me of the great work that’s been done this year… by cosmetic surgeons.” Ahead of his high-profile hosting gig, here are some things you might not know about the co-creator of award-winning sitcoms The Office and Extras.
1. In the early ’80s, he was the singer in a short-lived new wave duo called Seona Dancing.
Neither of their two singles, “Bitter Heart” and “More To Lose,” managed to crack the U.K Top 75, but the latter became popular in the Philippines after the duo had broken up. Check out the video for “Bitter Heart” (and Gervais’ rather David Bowie-esque vocals) below.
2. Much later, after The Office made him famous, Gervais actually became friends with Bowie.
During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Gervais recalled how he and the late rock icon became collaborators and “pen pals.” He also said that Bowie’s last ever appearance on stage was to introduce him at a benefit gig in New York City – quite an honor.
3. He’s often named one of the most influential people on Twitter.
And Gervais says the social media platform has actually benefited his comedy. “I can see a cross section of society a thousand times faster than I could’ve otherwise. I’ve got 13 million followers. That’s the world, really,” he told The New York Times last year. “I’ll tweet, ‘What’s a subject you should never joke about?’ Some people fall for the trap and say something like, ‘Psoriasis.’ Then I can come up with 10 minutes on that.”
4. He met Jane Fallon, his partner of 35 years, at the student union bar while he was studying at University College London.
Explaining why he and Fallon have never married, Gervais told The Times in 2016: “I just don’t see the point. We share everything. I mean we are married, apart from in the eyes of God, which neither of us believe in.”
5. During the ’80s, he had another brush with the music business when he managed indie band Suede, who later became popular during the “Britpop” boom of the ’90s.
“Well, he was funny back then,” Suede’s singer Brett Anderson recalled in 2011. “The level of his success has been pretty stellar, but good luck to him — he’s a very charming and talented chap. He came to a show a few years ago, and it was nice to see him.”
6. He’s turned down roles in numerous high-profile movies, including Ocean’s Twelve, The Da Vinci Code, Mission: Impossible III, 2009’s Star Trek reboot, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
Explaining why he declined his role in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Gervais said with typical pithy candor: “I didn’t really fancy sitting in a hotel room in Los Angeles for nine weeks for two minutes on screen, to be honest.”
7. He’s a vocal supporter of animal rights, and was named PETA’s person of the year in 2013.
He’s said he intends to leave his money to animal rights charities – and in typical Gervais fashion, made fun of the “outrage” this caused on Twitter.
I was going to leave my fortune to animal charities after I die. But I’ve decided to do it before I die so I can reply to all the outrage on Twitter.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) December 10, 2017
8. In 2000, around a year before he found global fame with The Office, he briefly hosted his own U.K. chat show.
Meet Ricky Gervais only ran for six episodes; his guests included Ultravox singer Midge Ure, film director and food critic Michael Winner, and Hart to Hart actress Stefanie Powers.
9. In 2002, he took part in a charity boxing match for Comic Relief.
He competed against British TV personality Grant Bovey, and won on points!
10. Though he’s preparing to present the Globes for a fifth time, he’s, um, not actually a fan of award shows.
“I’ve never watched an award show I wasn’t presenting,” he told The Independent last year. “They’re all tedious. It’s not a spectator sport, seeing everyone hug and tell each other how wonderful they are.” On whether he’d ever host the Oscars, Gervais said: “I’d do it if they said I could do what I wanted, which is the same as I did at the Golden Globes. But they’d never ask because they take it too seriously.” Well, there we are.
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