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Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes: Laughs, gasps and cringes

  • Ricky Gervais banters with members of the media during Preview Day for the Globes at the Beverly Hilton on Friday.

    Ricky Gervais banters with members of the media during Preview Day for the Globes at the Beverly Hilton on Friday.

Ricky Gervais will return to host the Golden Globes on Sunday, and once again no one will be safe. Not the nominees. Not the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group that sponsors the awards. And not even NBC, which broadcasts them.

The British comedian has hosted four times in the past, from 2010 to 2012, and then again in 2016. Each year, he seized the opportunity to roast as many stars as possible. Past targets include Cher, Tom Cruise, Hugh Hefner, Bruce Willis, Jodie Foster, Justin Bieber, Jeffrey Tambor and Ben Affleck.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gervais said he had aimed to entertain a global audience rather than please the celebrities in the room. “I try and play the outsider,” he said. “I’ve got to be the bloke sitting at home who shouldn’t have been invited.”

Gervais has said this will be his last time as Globes master of ceremonies. But then again, he has made such claims before. While onstage in 2010, he said: “One thing that can’t be bought is a Golden Globe. Officially.” After a brief pause, he shrugged and added, “I’m not going to do this again anyway.”

As this year’s nominees gear up for a night of nervous laughter and eyebrow-raising jabs, here’s a look back at some of Gervais’ most memorable moments at the Globes.

Target: Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson has been Gervais’ recurring victim. In 2010, before introducing the actor, Gervais stood behind the podium with a glass of beer in his hand and said, “Honestly, I like a drink as much as the next man. Unless the next man is Mel Gibson.”

When Gervais introduced Gibson again in 2016, he said he wasn’t judging the actor back in 2010. “Listen, I still feel a bit bad for it,” he told the crowd. “Mel’s forgotten all about it, apparently. That’s what drinking does.”

Target: Tim Allen

In 2011, Gervais introduced Tom Hanks and Tim Allen with a biting jab at Allen.

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.

The actors hit back. “Like many of you,” Hanks said, “we recall back when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian.”

“Neither of which is he now,” Allen added.

Gervais recently said he regretted making the joke and that he hoped Allen didn’t take it personally: “I didn’t want Tim Allen to think, ‘Oh, that was written for me. Why me?’ Well, because you were standing next to Tom Hanks.”

Target: Everyone in the Room

During his opening monologue in 2010, Gervais started off by blasting everyone. “Just looking at all the faces here reminds me of some of the great work that’s been done this year … by cosmetic surgeons,” he said. “You all look great.” The camera abruptly turned away from Meryl Streep and cut to a wide shot of a different table. Yikes.

Target: ‘The Tourist’

In 2011, Gervais poked fun at Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, who starred in the romantic thriller “The Tourist.” The film received negative reviews but managed to earn three Golden Globe nominations. “It seems like everything this year was three-dimensional,” Gervais said. “Except the characters in ‘The Tourist.’”

He went on say the movie wasn’t nominated solely so that members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association “could hang out with” Depp and Jolie — it was also because the actors were bribed.

Target: Caitlyn Jenner

For the most part, Gervais was a tad tamer during the 2016 ceremony. The one exception was a joke aimed at Caitlyn Jenner, who had been involved in a fatal car crash in 2015. “What a year she’s had,” Gervais said. “She became a role model for trans people everywhere, showing great bravery in breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes. She didn’t do a lot for women drivers, but you can’t have everything, can you?”

Target: Hollywood

Gervais does not just go after stars — he goes after show business as a whole. In 2010, he addressed the overwhelming emphasis Hollywood places on actors. “We all know writers get way too much credit in Hollywood,” he said, “and that’s due to the generosity of actors sometimes mentioning them.”

He continued: “I don’t want to keep going on about actors but they’re the most important ones, OK? It’s not the words you say. It’s how good you look when you’re saying them.”

In 2016, he made an all-too-true observation about the gender pay gap in the entertainment industry. “All-female remakes are the big thing. There’s a female remake of ‘Ghostbusters.’ There’s going to be a female remake of ‘Ocean’s Eleven.’”

“And this is brilliant for the studios,” he said, “because they get guaranteed box office results and they don’t have to spend too much money on the cast.”

Target: Robert Downey Jr.

When introducing Robert Downey Jr. in 2011, Gervais delivered a one-two punch. First, he wondered whether some of the actor’s films, including “Iron Man” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” were actually pornography. Then he went even further: “He has done all those films,” Gervais said, “but many of you in this room probably know him best from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail.”

Target: The Cast of ‘Sex and the City 2’

During his opening monologue in 2011, Gervais went after stars who were not nominated for any awards, like the cast of “Sex and the City 2.” “I was sure the Golden Globe for special effects would go to the team that airbrushed that poster,” Gervais said. “Girls! We know how old you are. I saw one of you in an episode of ‘Bonanza!’”

Target: Madonna

Even Madonna was not immune. In 2012, he introduced the star, saying, “She’s always vogue, she’s a material girl and she’s just like a virgin.” Then he let out a not-so-subtle cough.

But Madonna had the last laugh. On stage she responded, “If I’m still just like a virgin, Ricky, then why don’t you come over here and do something about it? I haven’t kissed a girl in a few years.”

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