During his three-year stint as Golden Globes host from 2010-2012, Ricky Gervais earned a reputation for being politically incorrect and aggressive with his humor. Oh, how he treasured that edgy badge of dishonor: "I guarantee they will not invite me back," the comedian predicted after his last gig. Now that Gervais returns this Sunday, plenty of people are wagering how he'll bite the hand that feeds him. But other than an obsession with his penis (and others), his off-color "offensive" humor can now seem rather quaint.
As the 54-year-old British writer-producer told The Hollywood Reporter, "I've never understood the controversy around the Golden Globes. That stuff I did, I was shocked that people thought that was shocking. Genuinely. I thought, what have I said wrong? I didn’t say anything outrageous or libelous … it couldn't have been that bad." And he's kinda right. As we prepare for Round Four of Ricky Gervais v. Hollywood, a look back at how he got that reputation for taking on the establishment. And who, ultimately, won.
2010: Ricky v. Hollywood, Round 1
For his intro to the hosting gig, Gervais introduced Bruce Willis as Ashton Kutcher's dad (that's when Demi Moore was still married to the young actor), and he made plenty of Mel Gibson jokes — which no one really winced at, since everyone hated the star for his anti-Semitic rants. Gervais was feted for being a breath of fresh air.
On Surgery and His Penis:
"Looking at all the wonderful faces here today reminds me of the great work that's been done this year — by cosmetic surgeons … I've had some work done, too. I’ve had a penis reduction. Just got the one now. And it is very tiny. But then so are my hands, so when I'm holding it it looks pretty big."
On Angelina Jolie and Adoption:
"Actors aren’t just loved here in Hollywood, they are loved the world over. You could be in the third world and get a glimpse of a Hollywood star and it could make you feel a little bit better. You could be a little Asian child with no possessions and no money. But you could see a picture of Angelina Jolie and you'd think, 'Mummy!'"
On Colin Farrell Being an Irish Drunk:
"The Golden Globes ... doesn't just celebrate talent, it celebrates difference. It crushes prejudice and stereotype. One stereotype I hate is that all Irishmen are just drunk, sweary hell-raisers. Please welcome Colin Farrell."
Verdict: Ricky-1, Hollywood-0
2011: Ricky v. Hollywood: Round 2
The year Gervais managed to insult everyone, including the President of the Hollywood Foreign Press, who he claimed he had to help "off the toilet and pop his teeth in." Had he gone too far?
On Charlie Sheen's Shenanigans:
"It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking — or, as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast … Wow, so let's get this straight, so what he did was, he picked up a porn star, paid her to have dinner with him, introduced her to his ex-wife — as you do — went to a hotel, got drunk, got naked, trashed the place while she was locked in a cupboard, and that was a Monday. What does he do New Year's Eve?"
On Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Bribes:
"It was a big year for 3D movies. Toy Story, Despicable Me, Tron. It seemed like everything this year was three-dimensional. Except the characters in The Tourist. I already feel bad about that joke. I tell you what, I'm jumping on the bandwagon, because I haven't even seen The Tourist. Who has? But it must be good because it's nominated, so shut up, OK? And I'd like to crush this ridiculous rumor that the only reason The Tourist was nominated was so that the foreign press of could hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. That was not the only reason; they also accepted bribes."
On Gay Scientologists:
"Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. So the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists, then. My lawyers helped with that joke."
On Robert Downey Jr.'s Bad Boy Past:
"He has done all of those films, but many of you in this room probably know him best from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and the Los Angeles County Jail. Robert Downey Jr.!"
On Kim Cattrall Being Ancient:
"There were a lot of big films that didn't get nominated this year, nothing for Sex and the City 2. No, I was sure the Golden Globe for special effects would go to the team that airbrushed that poster. Girls, we know how old you are. I saw one of you in an episode of Bonanza."
On Tim Allen Sucking (Next to Tom Hanks):
"What can I say about our next two presenters? The first is an actor, producer, writer and director whose movies have grossed over $3.5 billion at the box office. He's won two Academy Awards and three Golden Globes for his powerful and varied performances starring in such films as Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Castaway, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan. The other is Tim Allen."
On the Size of Jorge Garcia, Who Played Hurley on Lost:
"One of the biggest TV events of the year was the finale of Lost. It was quite a complicated finale, and I'm not sure I understood it all. From what I can make out, the fat one ate them all."
On Cher as Torture:
"No, all that happened was some of them were taken to see Cher in concert. Now how was that a bribe, really? It's not, because it's not 1975."
On Hugh Hefner's Penis:
"There's been some great new TV dramas this year, like Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead. Talking of the walking dead, congratulations to Hugh Hefner, who is getting married at age 84 to 24-year-old beauty Crystal Harris. When asked why she was marrying him, she said, 'He lied about his age. I thought he was 94.' Calm down; just don't look at it when you touch it." [Gervais then made a helpful gesture]
Verdict: Ricky-2, Hollywood-0
2012, Ricky v. Hollywood: Round 3
This is the year Gervais was supposed to play by the rules, but he still couldn’t stop himself from making dick jokes, offending the Hollywood Foreign Press, or talking about women and their bodily functions.
On the Size of His Penis:
"They actually gave me a list of rules. I'm going to ignore them, but I thought it would be good to read them out. This is real, OK? 'No profanity.' That's fine. I've got a huge vocabulary. 'No nudity.' See, that's a shame. Because I've got a huge ... vocabulary. But a tiny penis. No, no. Doesn't matter. It works. Don't worry about it. It's fine."
On Justin Bieber's Penis:
"Justin Bieber nearly had to take a paternity test. What a waste of a test that would have been. No, he's not the father. The only way that he could impregnate a girl was if he borrowed one of Martha Stewart's old turkey basters."
On Helen Mirren's Bodily Functions:
"Farting, burping, cursing, performing wild sex acts, even pooping in the sink. I heard for research they spent the weekend with Dame Helen Mirren."
On How Trashy the Golden Globes Are:
"For any of you who don't know, the Golden Globes are just like the Oscars, but without all that esteem. The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton. A bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker, and more easily bought. Allegedly. Nothing's been proved."
On Jodie Foster Being an Uptight Lesbian:
"And I'm not to libel anyone. And I must not mention Mel Gibson this year. Not his private life, his politics, his recent films, and especially not Jodie Foster's Beaver. I haven't seen it myself. I spoken to a lot of guys here, they haven't seen it either. That doesn't mean it's not any good."
On Race and The Help:
"Bit of trivia for you. Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler, between them played all the parts in the movie The Help. Isn't that brilliant? They were brilliant. I cant believe they're not here. Or maybe they are. They're masters of disguise."
On Natalie Portman's Pregnancy:
"Last year, our next presenter won both the Golden Globe and the Oscar for her work in Black Swan. This year, she took some time out to have a baby. Consequently, she's been nominated for nothing. Really pathetic. But she learned that valuable lesson you all already knew — never put family first. Please welcome the very foolish Natalie Portman."
On Colin Firth Being a Racist and Evil:
"He's also swooned over by women. I don't see it. Good luck to him. ... What you don't know about Colin Firth is he's very racist. I mean, really nasty stuff. I've also seen him punch a little blind kitten. Please welcome the evil Colin Firth."
Verdict: Ricky-2, Hollywood-1
Gervais' final gift was to deploy an expletive while trashing Spanish-speaking Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas — "I don't know because I can't understand a f--king word they're saying" — thus sealing his fate as being off-color and too difficult to trust.
Seemingly vanquished by his hosting responsibilities this last time, he vowed never to return. But the money, and the infamy, must have proven to be too much of a temptation. We're sure to be ready for this year's bout of boisterous truth-telling.