High price of tak­ing the Ricky

The Of­fice, Ex­tras, movies . . . Ricky Ger­vais says he’s un­com­fort­able with his fame, writes Sara Nathan

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

RICKY Ger­vais couldn’t care less about his own fame. The 47-year-old co­me­dian shot to promi­nence as David Brent on the ground­break­ing TV se­ries The Of­fice and stayed on top with Ex­tras, both of which he co-wrote and co-di­rected.

His pop­u­lar­ity rose fur­ther with sold-out stand-up shows.

Now Hol­ly­wood has beck­oned with sup­port­ing roles in movies Star­dust and Night at the Mu­seum and the lead in Ghost Town.

‘‘I’m more fa­mous than I should be,’’ he says. ‘‘I was never proud of hav­ing money — it nearly ru­ined be­com­ing a suc­cess for me.’’

De­spite the smash suc­cess of The Of­fice and Ex­tras plus a daz­zling ar­ray of awards, the 46-year-old re­veals he doesn’t watch his own shows — adding that his fam­ily would give him a slap if he got too big for his boots.

In fact, the only thing he’s splashed out on is a new home in Hamp­stead, north Lon­don, to share with girl­friend Jane Fal­lon and their cat, Colin.

The se­cu­rity-con­scious star says: ‘‘I’ve turned it into one big panic room. It has steel shut­ters, just in case. It’s like James Bond — if I could have lasers on the gate I would.

‘‘We’ve al­ready got the se­cu­rity cam­eras. Ac­tu­ally, if you come near my house I can put you on YouTube.’’

Ger­vais had plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to ob­serve the ef­fects of fame when he played act­ing hope­ful Andy Mill­man on Ex­tras. Guests in­cluded some of Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest stars — in­clud­ing Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet, Sa­muel L. Jack­son, Or­lando Bloom, David Bowie, Robert De Niro and Cold­play’s Chris Martin.

Stars in­clud­ing Madonna and Will Fer­rell have said they want to be in the show if Ger­vais de­cides to film a third se­ries.

‘‘Andy is me if I’d made all the wrong de­ci­sions,’’ he says.

Ger­vais con­trasts his own take on fame with that of David and Vic­to­ria Beck­ham.

‘‘I think the Beck­hams are fa­mous enough now,’’ he says. ‘‘They’re prob­a­bly a very sweet cou­ple — but re­ally, they don’t need to do any more photo ses­sions.

‘‘I think that when fame is your job that’s a prob­lem. It’s bizarre.’’

His own fame — he col­lected a fourth Emmy in Septem­ber — brought re­peated of­fers to ap­pear on the UK ver­sion of Big Brother. ‘‘I would never do it,’’ he says. ‘‘Never. I won’t do it even if my ca­reer takes a turn now and I lose my money. I’ll work in a bar.

‘‘I re­ally think it’s like the Vic­to­rian freak shows. On Big Brother and the X Fac­tor you’ve got peo­ple bor­der­ing on the men­tally ill.

‘‘Where will it end? It just wor­ries me that they’re fod­der for en­ter­tain­ment . . . and I’m the worst, I watch it. It’s my guilty plea­sure.’’

De­spite hav­ing mil­lions in the bank and a host of celebrity friends in­clud­ing movie leg­end Steven Spiel­berg, Ger­vais in­sists: ‘‘My val­ues re­ally haven’t changed. If you knew my fam­ily and friends and Jane you’d know I can never get away with any­thing.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously, my cir­cum­stances have changed. I don’t work in a nor­mal en­vi­ron­ment any more re­ally.

‘‘I’ve had the same five friends for 20 years. I have some new friends and a lot are in the me­dia but that’s be­cause it’s my job now.

‘‘Peo­ple think it’s odd that I know David Bowie. It’s not odd. I’ve worked with th­ese peo­ple. It would be odd if I only had fa­mous friends. Now that would be sus­pi­cious.’’

Ger­vais’s TV fame has blos­somed into movie suc­cess. He re­cently spent three months in New York film­ing Ghost Town, in which he plays den­tist Ber­tram Pin­cus, and liked the city so much he and Jane have been hunt­ing for a place in Man­hat­tan.

Next up he is turn­ing an idea he had for a TV sit­com — Man At the Pru, about young men liv­ing in a sea­side town in the 1970s — into a film with Ex­tras and The Of­fice com­edy part­ner and co-star Stephen Mer­chant.

Sit­ting pretty:

Ricky Ger­vais in­sists his val­ues haven’t changed, de­spite all the money and celebrity.

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