From Daily Mail: He has notoriously joked about the most controversial of subjects – but Ricky Gervais is deadly serious about how he sees his own life ending.
Speaking exclusively to Event magazine today, the creator of The Office and Extras reveals: ‘I am in favour of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. I know that I’d want it. I hope when I’m ready to go you can just go to Boots and get something. I hope we get more advanced and more liberal, that there’s not all this hate for people who want to do it, all this going, ‘How dare you?’ That’s madness.’
His comments come ahead of After Life, his upcoming Netflix series about death and grief, which is said to be as black as comedy can be.
Gervais, 57, reveals his latest TV character, a depressed journalist who dabbles with hard drugs and thoughts of suicide after his wife’s death from cancer, is his darkest by far and made him face up to his own mortality.
Ricky Gervais smokes heroin in his new Netflix show. That’s hugely controversial, even for him – and as if to prove a point, he takes the hardest of hard drugs on screen not once but twice. ‘Well, it would be a misrepresentation not to say that heroin is very moreish!’ says the comedian with his familiar, wolfish grin. ‘That’s a line from one of my stand-ups: ‘Hobnobs, Pringles, once you pop you can’t stop. Same as heroin.’
Funny, but the creator of The Office and Extras has made a highly successful second career out of winding people up and causing outrage, whether in his stand-up shows or roasting Hollywood stars at the Golden Globes. Now he’s pushing the boundaries in a different way with After Life, a six-part series about death and grief that’s as black as comedy can be – his character even pays for someone to commit suicide in this show. ‘What’s good is that people can’t accuse me of anything, because they know it’s a character.’
Gervais plays Tony, a journalist whose wife Lisa has just died from cancer. Tony can’t kill himself because the dog needs feeding, so he expresses all his anger and grief by saying and doing whatever he wants, no matter who gets hurt. But the portrayal of heroin is still surprisingly positive, as Tony gets comfort from drifting away, into the arms of a vision of his wife. Can Gervais not see why some people might be shocked?
‘There’s absolutely no comment on heroin per se in those scenes,’ he insists, shaking his head. ‘He’s a man in free fall, who wouldn’t have indulged in the underworld when he was married and happy with his wife, but suddenly he’s hanging about with a sex worker and a drug addict because he doesn’t care about himself any more. If you talk to a hundred heroin addicts, I bet you’d find that 90 of them first tried it after a really bad experience. The thing to take from this is that he tries something he would never have tried, and it doesn’t turn out well. He’s not the right man for heroin. Not that anyone is.’
Still, Tony does appear to walk away from the infamously addictive drug after taking it twice, which seems unlikely. Has the real Ricky Gervais ever done the same?
‘I’ve not indulged in that. I believe the injecting of heroin is the addictive bit, as opposed to smoking a little bit in a joint. I make the guy say that’s no big deal [as opposed to injecting]. I don’t want people to think you can take heroin a couple of times and it’s fine. So is there still a conscience? Yes. And is there still a reality and a bit of research here? Yes.’
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