US-ENTERTAINMENT-TELEVISION-EMMYSFor viewers with an appetite for a fresh helping of Ricky Gervais's comedic signature dish -- sending a hapless, hubris-ridden character down an ever deepening hole of lies, schemes, and increasing anxiety-provoking repercussions -- the comic's new Netflix original film "Special Correspondents" is the banquet you've been waiting for.

That's because the stakes are raised far beyond the cubicle politics of the original BBC version of "The Office" of the ego-driven showbiz inanities of HBO's "Extras": "Special Correspondents," written and directed by Gervais, casts him as a hapless radio engineer teamed with a hard-driving but difficult-to-work-with journalist (Eric Bana) to cover a conflict in Ecuador who, after missing their flight, conspire to convincingly fabricate their reports from the war zone in an effort to avoid getting fired.

But their dispatches only inflame tensions in the real world, prompt them to fake their own kidnapping by mysterious guerrilla forces, and spur Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) the fame-hungry wife of Gervais's character Ian, who's also sleeping with Bana's Frank, to use their seeming misfortune to worm her way into America's hearts -- and wallets.

After crafting what he envisioned as a throwback to the sort of whip-smart, socially satirical comedies of manners crafted by adult-minded auteurs like Sydney Pollack, Harold Ramis, and Billy Wilder, Gervais joined Moviefone for a rollicking look at his inspirations, his thoughts on today's obsession with insta-fame, what's really going on when he tosses those barbs at the Golden Globe Awards and his giddiness to share with you what David Brent's been up to since we saw him last.

Moviefone: Where did the inspiration for this story hit you? I mean, you're great at creating scenarios where characters dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes, but this one was so uniquely rich with promise. How'd you come up with it?

Ricky Gervais: Well, the essential idea is from an old French movie that I can't pronounce the name of. It's very different. I got it from that, and then just, I did my own thing with it, really. I just thought it was very current. And I had to make it real, obviously, because you can't fake a war on TV. That's a lot harder. I don't know -- I've always been fascinated with temptation. The easy lie versus the honorable, harder path.

I suppose it looks like a biting satire against media and journalism, but I think the bigger target is fame. I think Vera's [Farmiga] character really sums up what's wrong with some people today: that narcissistic, "I deserve to be famous. My life hasn't turned out like I thought, and it's not my fault, it's everyone else's." That sort of spoiled [attitude] ... and it's true! People now just think that they should be famous.

You see them on "American Idol." Why should we vote for you? "Because I want this so bad." Well, that's not why we should vote for you. Because you want to be famous, we should vote for you? Well, no. That's not how it works. We've got enough singers. Soon we're going to run out of doctors because everyone's going to be on "American Idol," or "America's Got Talent" or something, you know? What is this? It's crazy.

I've always been slightly fascinated by fame. "The Office" was sort of a study in fame, about that cusp of normal people getting their 15 minutes from docu-soaps. But now it's crazy. Now, it's sensational. Now, it's turbo-fame. "The Apprentice." Even Donald Trump as a leader going out there and bragging about how rich he is and how he wants to punch someone in the face. It's mad. It's crazy. He's not famous enough. He's a billionaire, but he's not satisfied. He wants to be famous. It's really odd. It's really odd. So it's sort of more about that.

But the central idea is, I suppose, about two guys. One who's a talented, charismatic Lothario. Good at his job, but slightly frustrated that he's a big fish in a small pond. He's a local celebrity, not the biggest celebrity, but it's his own fault -- again, he couldn't keep his mouth shut. He drinks too much, and he's angry. And a little guy, a little nerd who's really satisfied. He's got his favorite job, he loves his comic books, he loves his video games. He got his favorite job until his wife told him that it wasn't a good job, and that he wasn't satisfied, and that he was a loser and an underachiever, and that was news to him.

And they're thrown together, and I sort of worship Eric, but it's unrequited. He thinks I'm an idiot. We're both idiots, but he didn't know that. That's quite Laurel and Hardy-esque, I suppose, or Bob [Hope] and Bing [Crosby]. And they're thrown together and they go on a bit of a journey, and they're tempted, and they give into temptation, and then they dig themselves a hole, and then they've got to do the right thing and get out of it. And circumstance allows them to do the right thing. So it's sort of what I always do, but on a bigger scale. It's probably slightly grander and more plot-led than I was used to.Ricky Gervais in Netflix's "Special Correspondents"It definitely felt a bit of a throwback, the kind of movie that big studios don't make anymore -- or indies make for 12 cents. But you got the backing of Netflix early on so you could go big with it.

It felt like I was going to big school. Do you know what I mean? Originally it was a studio film. I put the script out, and I'd never had a reaction like it. It was a bit of a bidding war, and someone won, and we were going to go with them. Then Netflix heard about it, and just said "No, we'll buy it. We'll buy you out. We want this. We're starting movies."

And I went, "Okay," and a certain part of me thought, "Oh, I hope people don't think this is like going straight to DVD." And they went "No, it's not like that because we bought you out before we've seen the movie or made it yet." I went "Yeah, that's true." It's just the best of all worlds to me because I made the movie I wanted. I didn't have to go through this ridiculous Hollywood process of millions of focus groups and making it homogenized and fake so it stays in cinemas for two weeks and it's a lowest common denominator of comedy.

I could make an old fashioned film that was quite thought-provoking and quite grown up. I didn't have to do a knock-about farcical, gross-out comedy. I could try and relay a really smart comedy like "Tootsie" or "Groundhog Day" or something. And I did go quite retro, because I wanted to be witty, not crass. Even though it's quite modern in all of its sensibilities and its look and the technology. It's old fashioned in the sense that I miss that sparkling repartee between Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in "Double Indemnity."

Why don't we have films like that anymore? Well, because they're too dangerous. They're pulled out of cinemas because not everybody in the world will want to go and see them. So we have ... Marvel is Hollywood now. Marvel and DC is Hollywood, and real movies, Sundance, and Tribeca, and Toronto. But now Netflix comes along and starts tickling the auteur again. And they say "No, you can do what you want. And we give you the full budget. And we give you the back end of what it made." And you go, "Jesus. Yes. Yes! Yes, please!"Ricky Gervais and Eric Bana in Netflix's "Special Correspondents"I also love that you referenced the Bing and Bob "Road" movie quality because I saw that in there, for sure. Tell me about finding that repartee with Eric Bana in particular, who I don't think gets enough credit for being the smart comedic actor that he is.

Well, funny you should say that. So I cast Eric because I thought he was this brooding thespian from "Munich," and Bruce Banner. And I thought, "That would be great to get to play this broken, angry Lothario who gets put into a situation with a putz like me, and he can be angry," and all that.

Then I found out, after I'd cast him, that his background was comedy. He's really like me; he just went the drama route. His comedic timing is brilliant. We had a great time. Honestly, it was great. Yeah, so first I thought I was deconstructing a little bit, like I did with Liam Neeson in "Life's Too Short." Actually, it was deeper than that. It really was a journey. It was great seeing the development.

I think it's my favorite relationship on screen in the movie. These two guys, they're sort of awkward. Whether they like it or not, neither of them are comfortable in their skin as men, and I quite like that -- two men not being comfortable with each other, or themselves. Totally different. It's nice they sort of learn a little bit of each other. I like respect being earned. I like to see that happen over the hour and a half.Kelly Macdonald, Vera Farmiga in Netflix's "Special Correspondents"Since you know a little bit about having some fame yourself, what do you want to say to those people who, like Vera's Farmiga's character, are just striving for that empty fame you mentioned earlier?

Well, if you strive for empty fame, you'll have an empty life. It won't be what you think. Think what you want and go for that. What do you want? What's the point? What's the point? What do you want? I know what I want, and it's nothing to do with fame. It never has been. And I don't know why ... you don't need fame to be worth something. I just don't get it. That's all a lie. That's all a lie.

I see famous people ... sometimes it's laziness because I see people who are famous for nothing, and they're millionaires, and all they did was take their clothes off or live their life like an open wound. And people say, "Well, I could do that." Well, you can do that, yeah. But what are you going to tell your kids? What are you going to be proud of? That's my question to people. Why? What does it mean? It's nothing. It's not real. It's virtual. Why do you want strangers to know your name and your face, but you wouldn't cross the street to meet? What's in it? It's weird.

There's no difference between fame and infamy. People would rather be known for being an absolute a**hole than not known at all. When did that happen? When did that happen?! When did showing off about how rich you are happen? Why have we got a bloke running for president who wants to be number one on Forbes? Who argues with how rich he is? Who wants to punch someone in the face? When did that happen? It's really odd.

It's all about image. I think that's what shocked people at the Golden Globes [when I make fun of Hollywood power players], because people were saying [to me] it's career suicide. It's not career suicide. Why is it career suicide? I create my own labor. I'm not beholden to anyone in that room. I don't give a f*ck what they think. I wasn't trying to ruin their day, but I was making jokes.

I could see people looking up thinking "You cannot laugh about that, because I might need the job of that director or producer." F*cking hell. Say what you want. But we have freedom of speech. It's the greatest privilege in the world. F*cking hell. Chill out, everyone. It's all right. They're jokes.NBC's "73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards" - ShowHas anyone in that scenario ever dared to say anything back to your face? Or does everyone politely smile or avoid you altogether?

No one has said anything to my face, no. I've heard things people have said. And often not people I made a joke about. Once again, people interfering. People standing up for people that don't need standing up for. [Laughs] Like, when I teased Mel Gibson about him being anti-Semitic, there was one comedian that was saying, "How dare he ever go at Mel Gibson. He directed "Braveheart!" [Laughs] I wasn't having a go at his directing! I think he's a great director. I was teasing him! F*cking hell! Are you serious? Are you f*cking serious? Jesus Christ.

It makes me laugh. That's what most offense is, is people mistaking the target of the joke with a subject of a joke. It's these sacred cows; there are no sacred cows. Maybe freedom of speech is the only sacred cow. So f*cking use it.Ricky Gervais in BBC Films' "David Brent: Life on the Road"I know you're revisiting the character of David Brent in an entirely different context than "The Office" -- the next phase of his life, essentially. So can you just tell me a little bit about what that was like for you?

So much fun! When I go to sleep at night, I can't wait for people to see it, because it's the same, but different. He's the same, but different. He's 15 years older. The world's changed. "The Office" is really influenced by me working in an office for 10 years, but also watching those docu-soaps in the '90s. As I was saying, normal people have their 15 minutes of fame, and it was enough for them. They made the local paper, and then they got on with their life. Now, the world's different.

Now, it's 15 years later. He's 55 now, and he's still a wreck, but he still hasn't given up his dream, because it's gotten worse now. Now he sees Susan Boyle and people like that making it, whatever. Whatever "making it" is. And he thinks, "Well, I can do that," and he's in a room full of alpha males now. He's slightly bullied. Now we are in a world where people get on "The Apprentice" by saying, "I would destroy anyone who stands in my way." As I said, Donald Trump saying, "I'm not worth five billion, I'm worth 10 billion, and I'll punch him in the face." You know? And it's applauded. And he's a bit out of time. He's out of time.

It's quite sad, and he's casting his tension, and he's got a group of mercenary musicians to go on tour, and he's taking unpaid leave from selling toiletry products up and down the country, and he thinks he'll get signed. It's really fun. It's the funniest thing I've ever done, but underneath it all, there's a tragedy. There's a sweetness and a sadness of this man who f*cking needs a hug. That's all he needs!

"Special Correspondents" premieres on Netflix April 29th.

Special Correspondents
Not Yet Rated2016
Based on 14 critics

Two radio journalists concoct a scheme to fake their kidnappings in South America. Read More

Watch on Netflix
The Office
BBC2TV142002

Insufferable middle-management type David Brent is the center of this mockumentary-style comedy set at a nondescript paper company in a nondescript office park in England... Read More