Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009 by Russ Fischer
Hopefully you watched the great little teaser for Cemetery Junction, the new film written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. As great as that clip is, however, it doesn’t really give you any idea what the film is about. For that we’ll have to go directly to Gervais himself, who spoke about the film and his animated The Ricky Gervais Show while promoting The Invention of Lying in Toronto.
The core of Cemetery Junction, Gervais told Collider, is a group of 20-something characters trying to escape the stifling feel of a small town in the early ’70s. Though Gervais features in the film alongside Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson and Matthew Goode, the primary cast is a group of young, more unknown actors. Finding those in England isn’t easy, says Gervais:
The terrible thing in England is if you interview a thousand people, five hundred of them will talk like they’re going into a Guy Ritchie movie and the other five hundred will be Mr. Darcy. So we had to find cool, working class kids with no profile who could be John Travolta and James Dean and people like that.
So what’s the story really about?
I suppose it’s about class. It’s a romantic drama I suppose. It’s funny though. It’s sort of a return to what Steve and I do best…the minutia of human behavior. It’s set in the early 70’s and it’s about a group of twenty something’s that try to escape that stifling small town sort of mentality. One of the lines that inspired us is from Thunder Road. It’s a town full of losers and we’re pulling out of here to win.
That said, Gervais insists it isn’t a “depressing, gritty British movie about blue collar and working class,” so it’s not quite Mike Leigh territory. Instead it’s a celebration of a certain way of life, not characters being degraded and depressed.
In the meantime, Gervais is developing a thirteen-episode animated show for HBO called The Ricky Gervais Show. The material is drawn from the podcasts of the same name, and Gervais insists the main character, appropriately not played by him, will be an instant classic:
The world is going to get another Homer Simpson in Karl Pilkington. And unlike Homer, who you can never meet as it’s twenty writers and an actor doing a voice, you can meet Karl Pilkington. That’s the joy. He’s real. It’s so much funnier that it’s not scripted and he’s not acting. He’s not a comedian. He’s just a strange little round headed oddity.