This week, Ricky Gervais caused a hell of a lot of controversy – and not for the first time – as he hosted the 73rd Golden Globes from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
He carried out his hosting duties in his own inimitable fashion, as he shamelessly ripped into celebrities, whether they were in attendance at the awards or not. Nobody was safe from his stinging comments, as the likes of Mel Gibson, Jennifer Lawrence, Caitlyn Jenner and Jeffrey Tambor all felt the wrath of the British entertainer.
Gervais is, of course, hugely successful himself – he’s won three Golden Globe awards for a start – having written, produced, presented and acted in some of the most popular productions of the last decade.
As a well-known star, a lot of people know a lot of facts about him – but there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye. That’s what this article is all about. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the comedian:
10. He Was A University’s Gardener
Although Gervais does have a university education – he has a Philosophy degree from University College London, where he originally went to study Biology – he did actually have an ordinary job between going to school and embarking on his higher education.
But what was that job? Well, it was actually as the gardener at a university! Pretty hard to imagine, right? The man behind the likes of The Office, Extras and The Invention of Lying used to prune the hedges and cut the grass while students went about their studies around him. Everybody’s got to start somewhere though, right?!
9. He Worked As A Music Adviser For The BBC
Gervais has been happily married for more than thirty years to author and television producer Jane Fallon. One of the shows that Fallon produced was for the BBC and it was called This Life (it was the show that truly launched The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln to fame back in the 1990s), about a group of law graduates.
Notably – thanks largely to his wife – Gervais worked for the popular drama series as a music adviser. He would suggest background music for particular scenes and so forth. It was the job that truly got him on the path to where he is now.
8. He Was The Boss Of Several Coldplay Members
Before he made his way to the entertainment business, another job that Ricky Gervais had was running a bar. When he was working at said bar, he employed Will Champion – the drummer and backing vocalist with English band Coldplay – to be a doorman there!
Moreover, it was revealed – all by lead singer Chris Martin on Australian radio – that the other members of Coldplay all worked as cleaners under Gervais’ supervision at the same bar! Essentially, Ricky has managed Coldplay – it’s just that it had absolutely nothing to do with their massive success in the world of music!
7. He Managed Suede
In the 1990s, during the height of the “Britpop” that saw the rise of the likes of Oasis, Blur and Pulp, Suede were also a very popular band. With lead singer Brett Anderson and the likes of Justine Frischmann and Bernard Butler on board, the group had hits like “So Young,” “Trash” and “Beautiful Ones.”
However, before that, when they had yet to find any real success, they had a certain megastar as their manager – one Ricky Gervais. Gervais managed the group in their early years in the 1980s, but departed to forge his own career as an entertainer.
6. Stephen Merchant Was Originally His Assistant
Stephen Merchant is famously a long-time collaborator with Ricky Gervais. Together, the pair have written shows like The Office and Extras, as well as acted together in the same shows, and co-hosted The Ricky Gervais Show in its radio, podcast, audiobook and television show forms. Merchant has also forged a film career off the back of that, with roles in movies like Hot Fuzz, Tooth Fairy and Movie 43.
However, back in the 1990s Gervais was employed by the radio station XFM – for whom Gervais was a host – and, during his search for an assistant, Gervais found Merchant’s résumé. They became a duo and, upon returning to the station years later, found a new frequent partner in Karl Pilkington.
5. He’s Hosted The Golden Globes More Than Anyone Else
Everybody knows that Ricky Gervais has hosted the Golden Globes several times – the controversy he brings to the role of host ensures that it’s at the forefront of the media every time he does it – but did you know that he’s actually hosted it more times than anyone else in its history?
In fact, since the first ceremony back in 1944, there have only ever been five hosts; John Larroquette, Janine Turner (who did it together), Gervais, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (who also did it together). Larroquette and Turner did it once, Fey and Poehler did it three times and Gervais’ most recent stint in the role was his fourth.
4. He’s In Grand Theft Auto 4
Along with the American performer Katt Williams, Ricky Gervais was one of two comedians featured inside the incredibly popular 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto 4. Inside the game, Gervais was interviewed on a radio talk show and performed at the Split Sides comedy club.
For this unique cameo within the game, Gervais himself specifically wrote and motion-captured a one-off stand-up act. It adds an interesting role to an already exemplary résumé for the Brit – how many other comedians can truly say they’ve done as much as him? You can view the act in its entirety in the above video.
3. He’s Far From Greedy
Gervais might come across as smug and arrogant, but in reality he’s actually a very nice bloke. Not only is he a huge animal lover (something that anybody who follows his Twitter account will be only too aware about), he also doesn’t see money as that big a deal.
His public persona is that of a man who boasts about his riches – and he really is an incredibly rich man – but he has actually done an awful lot of charity work and has turned down some very lucrative opportunities. One such opportunity that he turned down was a $4 million offer for a single day’s advertising work for a company he refuses to name.
2. He Was In A New Wave Pop Group
In the early 1980s, Ricky Gervais was in a pop group called Seona Dancing. He was the lead singer in the group, while Bill McCrae wrote the music. They weren’t at all successful in Gervais’ native United Kingdom, but they did achieve a decent level of popularity in the Philippines.
The somewhat robust and gruff Gervais is barely recognisable from his days in the group. He was a very fresh-looking handsome young man whose image was so stereotypically 80s that you can almost hear a Roland D-50 Synthesizer when you’re looking at him! It’s just a shame the group’s talent didn’t reflect their image at the time!
1. He Won A Celebrity Boxing Match
Ricky Gervais is hardly an athlete – and this particular entry certainly doesn’t change that fact – but you may be surprised to learn that he took part in a celebrity boxing match back in 2002. More surprisingly, he actually won!
The fight was televised for Comic Relief and he went up against businessman Grant Bovey over three rounds, having been trained by Frank and Eugene Maloney. After his points victory, he donated his £5,000 prize money to the training of a Macmillan cancer nurse – further emphasising what a decent guy he is. The final part of the fight – including the decision – can be seen in the video above.