Ricky Gervais, the comedian and the Director of The Office and The Invention of Lying, tells in an interview…about his ‘born again’ experience when he was converted to the joy of work.
About The Office he says, “I enjoyed every moment of it. I enjoyed the result and I enjoyed the pride. I also realised in retrospect that I didn't enjoy all those things because of how good I thought it had turned out. I enjoyed it because of how hard it was.”
The Office, Gervais explains, was the first thing he had ever really worked at. A clever working-class kid from Reading, up to the age of 40 he had always relied on a quick brain and a ready wit to see him through. Life was a breeze, a laugh, a joke. “I suppose I was always creative. I did start 20 novels, and then went, ‘Ah, too hard,’ and went to the bar.”
With The Office, which he devised with his co-writer Stephen Merchant, he didn't go to the bar. They spent years writing it, refining it, honing it, controlling it – their refusal to delegate any detail in its production is legendary.
That, for Gervais, is what makes The Office a watershed. Not its worldwide success, which opened every door and made him impossibly rich….What was really important was the joy of work – not just dashing something off but getting every detail of David Brent and Wernham Hogg ("Where life is stationery") right, a fully realised world.
Gervais said at the outset of the interview, “I think you should know something about me first. I never tried hard at anything. I was born smart on a very working-class estate. A couple of people I knew went to university apart from me, but all the way through I was the smartest kid in the school. That's luck, but I was proud of it. And I was also proud of doing well without trying.”
“As you get older, and it took me a long time to realise it, that's a disgusting attitude, revolting. It's ignorant and it's a tragic waste, and I realised that the work itself is the reward. The struggle itself is the reward. Everything else – fame, money, being best mates with Jonathan Ross – is secondary.”
Link to entire article
Stephen Moss, Ricky Gervais: ‘Before The Office I Never Tried Hard at Anything’, Guardian, 28 September 2009.
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Dr Geoff Pound
Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.
Image: Ricky Gervais.