Ricky Gervais is almost as entertaining to watch while he’s working as in a final, finished cut of something.
Maybe it’s because I’m a fan. Maybe it’s because I’m always curious about how different comics approach their work. Or maybe it’s just because he’s so constantly entertained by the world around him that it becomes infectious when you’re in his general vicinity. Whatever the case, spending a day on the set of “The Invention Of Lying,” his new high-concept comedy, was one of the highlights of my professional year in 2008.
The basic premise, for those who don’t know yet, involves Mark (Gervais), a screenwriter who hates his job and his life. The world he lives in looks just like ours in every way except one: no one lies. Not at all. And the removal of that one element has changed society in myriad ways. That’s the joy of the first part of the script, observing just how different a world without lying is. But when Mark accidentally invents lying, he changes the entire world, and the fallout is both hilarious and thought-provoking.
It’s been over a year since I visited the set just outside Boston. May of 2008, to be precise. I’d never met Gervais yet, and I’d only ever exchanged a few e-mails with Matt Robinson, the writer who created “The Invention Of Lying” as a spec, only to somehow find himself co-writing and co-directing the final film with Ricky.
And yet, I found it to be one of the most open, unforced set visits I’ve ever done, with everyone making themselves more than available.
[more after the jump]
This week, I’ll be bringing you interviews with Louis CK, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and Gervais himself, as well as some conversation with Matt Robinson about the origins of the film and winning the creative partner lottery, and also some impressions of what they were filming while I was there. The film is set to make its premiere in Toronto in just a few weeks, and I’m excited to finally lay eyes on what I think has the potential to be a completely unique big-studio comedy, and one of the real high points of the year.
I’ll leave you with a line from the first interview I’m editing right now, with Louis CK. We were talking about the way Hollywood movies insist on making every character “likable,” and how everyone’s got to be “the best” at whatever it is they do:
“I don’t like people who are successful, I don’t like people who are good at their job, and I certainly don’t like people who are likable.”
It’s going to be a good week. Hope you’ll join us.
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