Gervais honest about fears for The Invention of Lying

Sep 29, 2009
Katharine Hibbert

Comedian does not believe that his latest character compares to David Brent - but is desperate to leave the legacy of The Office behind

Is Ricky Gervais's new film about to flop?  The comedian has been uncharacteristically humble in weekend interviews about The Invention of Lying, in which he stars as well as co-directing and co-writing, suggesting he's not convinced himself.

"This is the real test," he told the Sunday Times. "If this tanks, I will only ever be the guy who did The Office. What else have I done? Cameos. Extras was good, and the stand-up was good — but you never get to escape something like The Office unless you keep your momentum up."
The film, which will be released on Friday, is set in a world in which everyone tells the truth.  Gervais plays Mark Bellison, a writer who learns to lie and becomes a messiah - as well as getting his dream girl.
"I don't think you can talk about Mark Bellison in the same way that you can talk about David Brent," Gervais told the Guardian. "I don't think he's as socially interesting because he's not as three-dimensional.  It doesn't resonate as much."

The film, co-written with his Extras partner Steve Merchant, has a strong cast: Tina Fey, famous for her Sarah Palin impersonation on Saturday Night Live, plays Mark's PA, Jennifer Garner appears as his date and Hollywood heartthrob Rob Lowe plays a caveman.

The question now is whether it will score at the box office. Gervais is probably right to be nervous after Ghost Town - his first major role - proved a washout last year.

While reviews of The Invention of Lying following its screening at the Toronto film festival were generally friendly - "A smartly written, nicely layered comedy" (Variety) - the first reviews here have not been kind.

The Guardian called it "incoherent, throwaway," and the Times said it was "undone by an illogical, ramshackle narrative, and by the dramatic demands of a central role… that Gervais is simply not accomplished enough to meet." Ouch.

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