Birthdate: June 25, 1961
Birthplace: Reading, Berkshire, England, UK
At once a scathing standup comic, caustic awards show host, children’s book author, groundbreaking producer, and star of the most innovative sitcom of this era—The Office--and sometimes writer director actor in the movies, Ricky Gervais (birthname: Ricky Dene Gervais) resists any definitions or categories. A bundle of contradictions—a fervent advocate of gay rights and poster boy for the anti-P.C. crowd, lovable one moment and startling the next—Gervais has carved out a unique show business career without precedent.
Although Ricky Gervais’ film career is arguably the least notable of his multimedia pursuits, it has spanned more than twenty years and includes regular appearances in the successful franchise Night at the Museum, as well as a quartet of movies in which Gervais was writer-producer-director-star. Often overlooked is the fact that Gervais has acted either in a live-action or animation context in several movies geared for young audiences, starting with Disney’s animated release, the U.K.-made Valiant (2005), with the voices of Ewan McGregor, Tim Curry, John Cleese, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Laurie, and Olivia Williams.
Gervais appeared in the cast of the live-action Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2011), with Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Alexa Vega, and Jeremy Piven, followed by writer-director Cal Brunker’s computer-animated Escape from Planet Earth (2013), with Rob Corddry, Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, William Shatner, Alba, Jane Lynch, George Lopez, and Craig Robinson.
Ricky Gervais appeared in a live-action mode in the Muppets sequel, The Muppets Most Wanted (2014), one of the first movies with Gervais as lead, along with Ty Burrell and Tina Fey. Returning to voice work in animation, Gervais joined the large and distinguished ensemble for director Mark Osborne’s French-Canadian, English-language animation version of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince (2015), with the voices of Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Bud Cort, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, Paul Giamatti, and Albert Brooks.
The film premiered in the official selection of the 2015 edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Gervais returned to animated movies for Kris Pearn’s acclaimed feature for Netflix, The Willoughbys (2020), with Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Terry Crews, Martin Short, and Jane Krakowski. Back again for animated comedy, Gervais appeared as a voice actor in the Blazing Saddles spoof, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022), with Michelle Yeoh, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, and Mel Brooks.
As Dr. McPhee, curator of the Museum of Natural History, Ricky Gervais appeared in all three features of the phenomenally successful Night at the Museum series, beginning with Night at the Museum (2006), directed and produced by Shawn Levy and co-starring Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Robin Williams. Gervais returned as the doctor in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009), with new cast members Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Hank Azaria, and Christopher Guest, followed by Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014), with new cast members Ben Kingsley and Dan Stevens.
As a “total filmmaker” (in the phrase made famous by comic actor-writer-director-producer Jerry Lewis), Ricky Gervais has yet to make a feature that has proven a hit with general audiences, but his four films so far reflect different facets of his performing style and subjects. While The Invention of Lying (2009)—in which Gervais is the only human who can lie in a world of truth-tellers—mixed social and romantic comedy, Cemetery Junction (2010) was a directly autobiographical movie depicting his teen years growing up in Reading, England, with Felicity Jones, Jack Doolan, Emily Watson, Matthew Goode, and Ralph Fiennes.
Gervais’s Special Correspondents (2016), with Eric Bana, Vera Farmiga, Kevin Pollak, Kelly Macdonald, America Ferrera, and Benjamin Bratt, was a satirical take on journalism, his fourth movie behind the camera—David Brent: Life on the Road (2016)—saw Gervais once again as Brent, his antihero at the center of The Office, indulging in his fantasies as a rock n’ roller. Gervais’ next project (date to be announced) is a film version of his six-book children’s book series, Flanimals.
Born in Reading, England, Ricky Gervais was raised by his mother Eva, and French-Canadian father Lawrence Gervais. He has three siblings, brothers Bob and Larry, and sister Marsha. He attended Ashmead Comprehensive School and graduated from London-based University College with a degree in philosophy. Gervais has been in a relationship with author-producer Jane Fallon since 1982; the couple has no children. His height is 5’ 7½”.
No God: Ricky Gervais, who is openly atheist, once explained that he and his partner Jane Fallon never married “in the eyes of God, because there is no God.” Gervais, an honorary associate of Britain’s National Secular Society, received the 2019 Richard Dawkins Award recognizing individuals who support “values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truths wherever it may lead.”
Early Convictions: Gervais has said that he abandoned all religious beliefs and beliefs in God at age eight.
Patronage: Ricky Gervais is a patron of the Humanists UK charity promoting humanism, secularism, and human rights.
First Career: Gervais’s first stab at show business success was as a member of the duo band, Seona Dancing, whose new wave pop mimicked some of David Bowie’s music.
Multi-Media: As well as acting, producing, writing, and directing movies, Ricky Gervais has worked in a wide range of media, including books, radio, podcasting, stand-up comedy, live music, television, animation voice acting, awards show emcee, talk show hosting, and video games.