News & Opinion


And the Golden Globe for cringingly awful and cruel one-liners goes to… Ricky Gervais

The Times

January 18, 2011


If he was contemplating the abrupt end of his Hollywood career, the Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais was doing his best to brazen it out at the post-ceremony party.

“I hope everyone took it well,” he said. “This is the time where I go around and say, ‘You do know I love you, right?’ I hope they can all take a bit of a roasting from a nobody like me.”

A neat piece of British self-deprecation this, but whether it will ensure a harmonious future with Hollywood is another matter.

Widely hailed for his first stint as Golden Globes host in 2010, Gervais’s quips fell flat this year. Before the ceremony, he said that he would go close to the edge, but not over it. But Robert Downey Jr, who Gervais said was most memorable for going into rehab, called his hosting “mean-spirited with slightly sinister undertones”.

Yesterday, Gervais denied in a statement given to The Times that he was persona non grata. “Everyone took it well,” he said. But he had been firmly put in his place during the show by Tom Hanks and the comedian Tim Allen. “We can recall back when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian,” Hanks said. “Neither of which he is now,” Allen added.

The brouhaha underscored a muted night for Britain. Modern America trumped period Britain as The King’s Speech, with seven nominations, won only one award for Colin Firth as Best Actor. The Social Network was the major winner with four awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, while Natalie Portman, below, scooped Best Actress for her role in Black Swan. Christian Bale won Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Fighter, while the British musician Atticus Ross shared the Globe with Trent Reznor for Best Original Score for The Social Network.

Meanwhile, Gervais’s barbs flowed freely. He wondered why the team that airbrushed the Sex and the City 2 poster weren’t up for best special effects and said “3-D was everywhere in the last year” but not in the characters of The Tourist, the flop starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. “I haven’t seen it,” he said, “but then nobody else has.”

Gervais’s subsequent disappearance from the stage for an extended period was notable. Piers Morgan, soon to make his CNN debut, wondered if he had been “beaten up”. But Gervais denied any backstage fallouts. “I did every single introduction I was meant to. There just happened to be a long gap. This is because I was allowed to choose who I would introduce in advance. I obviously chose presenters who I had the best jokes for; and who I knew had a good sense of humour.”

US critics appeared divided. The morning talk-show hosts wondered if he had “gone too far”, expressing puzzlement athis “sharp, edgy British humour”; one, Kelly Ripa, said he had made her so nervous she put on extra deodorant to watch him, but The New York Times praised him for bringing a touch of incivility to the proceedings.