Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais is keeping himself busy after presenting The Golden Globes in January, with the release of his film Ghost Town on DVD. He's also directing a Hollywood comedy called This Side Of The Truth, writing another script with The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant and is bringing out a Flanimals pop-up book later this year.
Ricky Gervais is directing a movie starring Jennifer Garner and Rob Lowe
Ricky, what are you up to at the moment?
I'm just finishing off my directorial debut, This Side Of The Truth, which will be out in about nine months or a year. It takes so long. I just want to go, 'Look. Just put it out now'. We haven't even finished it yet. That's with me, Tina Fey, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Jason Bateman, it really is the comedy cast of the decade. And that'll be out either the end of the year or the beginning of next year.
What's it about?
It's about a world where the human race hasn't evolved the gene for lying. It's a very harsh world. Everyone's cold and heartless and they just say exactly what they think. So if you're a loser, like me, oh yeah, I'm playing a loser again, don't worry about that, I'm the bottom of the pile and I just get insulted and beaten up and my life's rubbish. But then I discover I can lie so I'm invincible because everyone believes anything I say and I can get anything I want.
Is it true you're releasing a pop-up book?
Yeah. I've been working on it for a while. It's a Flanimals pop-up book. We did four and we did the box set. So we didn't want go back and say, 'There's a fifth. We'll do another box set'. We thought of something slightly different. This company showed me this thing they did for Sharks or Dinosaurs or something. And it's amazing. It's like a big book and you open it and it's incredible. It's like this thing comes to life, so intricate.
It's not just a thing that flaps up with a drawing, it's like this 3D sort of model that comes out. It's incredible. They thought Flanimals would make a good one. So we're designing it now. But it takes so long. You come up with a drawing and then they have to think if it's possible because they have to make it. Then they have to fold it so it's flat and then it sort of makes itself. I can't describe it. That'll be out in the autumn.
And you've just made appearances on The Simpsons and Sesame Street. How did they go?
You know you've made it when you get asked to do Sesame Street or sing to a little, blue, furry muppet. Which is great, because I'm doing a song and this is why they said they wanted me to appear. And I said, 'Can I sing a lullaby to Elmo?' And they let me do the song. I don't want to give anything away but it's quite weird in quite a funny way.
Ricky Gervais found fame with The Office, which started in 2001
I was looking back on YouTube at other people who've done Sesame Street and it's incredible. There's a Stevie Wonder performance that he does Superstition and it's great and all the kids are headbanging. It's amazing. So it was a real honour to be asked to do that.
I read in your blog that they gave you a list of requirements of what you can't wear. Is that true?
Exactly. Yeah. You can't wear blue. He's blue. Grover's red. You can't wear white and black because it mucks up the screen. You can't wear stripes. You can't wear patterns. So I wore a green jumper. As easy as that.
And what about your bit on The Simpsons?
That was incredible. That's a while ago now. Matt Groening, who created it, was one of the first people in Hollywood to see the English Office. He saw it on a plane. I was very flattered. And then when we won the Globes, the next day he called up and said, 'Can you come to the studio? We want to meet you'. And me and Steve (Merchant) went along for an audience with the writers and Al Jean, the producer.
And at the end of the lunch he just said, 'So, do you wanna be in The Simpsons?' And I said, 'What are the hours?' And he said, 'They're really good', like I was actually playing hard to get. And then after I spoke to him about it they said, 'Why don't you write it?' Which is ridiculous. This isn't like a career, it's like I won a competition. It's been crazy, the last few years. The Simpsons is, I think, one of the greatest shows on TV of all time. And the worrying thing about that is, you can only make it slightly worse, which I think I did, thank you very much.
Ricky Gervais presented the Golden Globes in January 2009
So what's next for Ricky Gervais? Are you going to be doing any more films?
Myself and Stephen have just finished writing a film which we're filming in June, which is set in England in the 70s. It was going to be called The Men From The Pru but the Prudential didn't like how we portrayed them. So we've got to change the title. So what do you think about this, Radio 1 listeners, All The Young Dudes? Get Mott The Hoople to do the title song. You're not convinced are you?
Ricky Gervais was talking to Newsbeat entertainment reporter Chi Chi Izundu.