Ricky Gervais has been known to be great at everything he touches as an artist: he has been a successful standup comedian, an amazing writer of both comedies and dramas, a talented actor showcasing his incredible abilities on screen, and a savage award show host who never abstains from making controversial jokes. It seems Gervais has always been good at what he does but he also has his hit-and-miss moments.
We tried to rank the best Ricky Gervais performances, from his legendary mockumentary series The Office to comedy films like The Invention of Lying. In some cases, Gervais’ presence makes the project even better and in others, even he cannot save it.
1. The Office (UK) (2001-2003)
It would be an abomination to not put The Office (UK) in the number 1 spot for best Ricky Gervais performances. Although sometimes the UK version, which is the original, gets overshadowed by the American one, The Office (UK) is still considered to be one of the best sitcoms ever. Ricky Gervais has a huge part in the success and the impact of the series as he is one of the creators of it alongside Stephen Merchant and he also plays its lead character, David Brent, one of the most hilarious characters on television.
2. Derek (2012-2014)
Derek receiving mixed reviews from critics doesn’t change the fact that the eponymous character is a heartwarming, sweet, and loving guy (played by Gervais). The show is a bit more drama than comedy since it is set in an elderly home where Derek is one of the care workers. Say what you will about the show, we love the character Derek and his animal videos no matter what!
3. After Life (2019-2022)
One of the best Ricky Gervais performances is in After Life, the recent Netflix comedy-drama that made us cry more than laugh. It is about a man who recently lost his wife to cancer and whose life collapses after his loss. He starts to do and say whatever he wants to people, without caring about their reactions, to punish them for his wife’s death. However, his devil-may-care attitude is undermined when his loved ones always try to help him be a better person. Gervais encapsulates greatly the grief and the sadness this character has.
4. Ghost Town (2008)
It’s Ricky Gervais’ sharp performance that elevates this movie about a coldhearted dentist (Gervais) who dies and comes back to life 7 minutes after. His life-changing experience turns him into someone who can speak with the dead. This newly-found ability changes the dentist from the core as he starts to warm up to people. Ghost Town is worth a watch if you want to see some incredible acting by Gervais.
5. The Invention of Lying (2009)
Imagine a world where no one knows how to lie until a writer named Mark comes up with the idea of lying and uses it for his gain. Written and directed by Gervais and Matthew Robinson, the movie hasn’t received many positive reviews but there is one thing all the critics agreed on, the casting. Not only Ricky Gervais but Jennifer Garner, Louis C.K., Jonah Hill, Tina Fey, and Rob Low do nothing but shine in this film.
6. David Brent: Life On the Road (2016)
The 2016 comedy movie sees David Brent, the former star of The Office, reemerging as a rock star on the road. Unfortunately, most critics stated that the show did not have the humor and the authenticity of the original show and that maybe Gervais overestimated the character’s likability. We don’t think it was the performance by the actor that made the movie bad but vice versa. Gervais’ acting abilities could not save the bad writing.
7. Special Correspondents (2016)
Usually considered one of the worst productions by Ricky Gervais, this movie is a total disaster with its feeble writing and shallow characters. The film is so bad that it doesn’t leave any room for the cast members to shine and maybe make you forget how bad the movie is. It is an unfortunate endeavor by Gervais.
Bonus: Ricky Gervais: Humanity (2018)
Although Humanity is a standup comedy tour, we still wanted to include it in our list of best Ricky Gervais performances. He gives a great performance as a standup comedian so we thought he should be appreciated. Go to Netflix if you want to hear Gervais talk about Caitlyn Jenner, offense taking, social media, the decision to not have children, and animal rights.