Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Did you avoid watching the UK version of The Office
when preparing for the role?
A. I did, I only watched the first episode of the British
version because I was trying not to do an impersonation of Ricky
He was so perfect in the role. He has so many specific tics and
character traits and rhythms and patterns that I felt the more
I watched the more I’d be inclined to do an impersonation
of him. And I really didn’t want to do that, because there
was no way I could improve upon what he did or even match what
he did with that character.
So I felt that my best bet was try a new character based on similar
character traits that he has: very little self awareness, and
a huge emotional blind spot. So those sort of things stayed attached,
but the actual guy I tried to make a different person.
Q. Have you seen Extras?
A. No, I hear it’s great. He’s been very
sweet and very supportive of our show from the get-go. I feel
lucky to have him in our camp.
Q. Are there any comedians you’d particularly love
to work with?
A. I’ve already worked with Jim Carrey and Will
Ferrell so that’s pretty neat. I don’t know really
where you go from there. And I’ve just worked with Alan
Arkin, I’m a huge fan of his. There’s no-one in particular
who springs to mind. I don’t dream like that because I think
it completely sets you up for disappointment.
If I’d thought ‘if I could just work with Jim Carrey,
that would make my life complete’ I couldn’t even
dream that I would ever be working with him. Or Will. And then
lo and behold it comes to pass. I feel like I’ve been really,
really lucky the last couple of years.
I’d love to work with Ben Stiller, with any of that gang
of people. I’d love to work with Ricky Gervais, I think
He’s frighteningly good. The new word is that he is a ‘fierce
performer’, in the best sense of the word. It’s like
he is so riveting.
Q. Have you actually met
A. I’ve met him a few times. But I haven’t
talked to him about working together. But I would be honoured.
Q. What did you mean by fierce?
A. The way I’ve heard it described is that a fierce
performer means someone who is so riveting and so engaging, that’s
how I think it’s meant. In the absolute best sense of the
Q. Were you nervous of taking on Ricky’s character?
A. You know, I didn’t get nervous until I saw the
BBC version. I honestly didn’t know what I was getting into,
and I didn’t know how great it was before I saw it.
So sure, any time you’re held up to that sort of scrutiny,
critically, it is a bit nerve wracking. But we got into it thinking
that all we wanted to do as a cast and as a production team was
to make it funny, and to try to make it good. And to try not to
necessarily live up to anybody else’s expectations.
The BBC show is iconic and you can’t set that as a goal.
All we tried to do was make a funny show based on the template,
which is hilarious. And that was really our only goal.
Q. Is there going to be another series of the US show?
A. We’ve shot two episodes and I’m going
back to shoot a third. We just shot six in the first series and
they aired some of those over here.
Q. What do you think about the concept of remaking TV
projects for cinema?
A. It’s very delicate. That is a real tightrope
to walk. It’s like doing The Office, you’re trying
to re-tell something that has been embraced and loved by a group
of people prior to you attempting it. I think the trick with it
is to sort of re-invent it, to make it different but pay homage
to the original. It’s hard, it’s a very difficult
thing to do and do well.
Things like Mission: Impossible turned into a great franchise
based on a TV show.
The Fugitive was a marvellous rendition of a tv show, so it definitely
can be done. Those two almost make you forget about the original
tv show, and if you can do that it’s beyond any expectations.
So I think it can be done, it just takes the right people to be
involved and it takes the right tone. But again it’s an
incredibly delicate balance to strike.
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