In the new issue of Rolling Stone – on newsstands and in the digital archive starting April 1 – Ricky Gervais sets the record straight about his controversial Golden Globes monologue. "If you can't tease the richest, most powerful people in the world, who can be the butt of your jokes?'" he asks contributing editor Eric Hedegaard. "It was six or seven one-liners, throwaways I wrote in an hour. It was nothing. Let's go through them one by one. Johnny Depp wasn't offended. I've spoken to him about five times since. Hugh Hefner tweeted he wasn't offended. I can't imagine Bruce Willis being offended. I did nothing wrong. I know I didn't!"
Gallery: Comedy Stars on the Cover of Rolling Stone
Other highlights from the story:
• Even though he's the producer and creator of The Office, he didn't freak out when Steve Carrell announced that he was leaving. "It's probably expected of me, as executive producer, to try and persuade him to stay," Gervais said. "But I sent him an e-mail saying, 'I think you're doing the right thing.'"
• He's been avowed atheist ever since he was eight. It wound up helping him when a test audience gave an early version of The Office the lowest rating in the history of the BBC. He refused to change a word of it. "I've always done exactly what I wanted," he says. "Which is important for an atheist, because there's nothing else. No reward later. My reward is the here and now. It's me that's got to sleep with me, only me."
• Just two things make Gervais' blood boil: religious fanaticism and animal cruelty. "I cheer when a matador gets gored," he says.