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Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais was once asked to feature in the hit film The Da Vinci Code. But Gervais felt he was doing the film a favor by turning it down.

Ricky Gervais turned down ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and many other films

Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes.
Ricky Gervais | VALERIE MACON / Getty Images

Gervais was once approached to star in the 2006 commercial hit film The Da Vinci Code directed by Ron Howard. It starred veteran actor Tom Hanks, and was based on the 2003 novel of the same name.

Gervais was supposed to play a butler in the feature, which was a role that eventually went to actor Jean-Yves Berteloot. But Gervais thought it wise to avoid the film for Howard’s sake.

“I told director Ron Howard ‘I will ruin your film. The number of times I’ve sat down for a great film by a great director and a British actor pops up and ruins it for me – I don’t want to be that bloke,'” Howard once said according to Vulture.

But Da Vinci Code wasn’t the only feature Gervais ended up turning down. Because of Gervais’ standards, the actor has proven himself to be very selective of the movies he’s in.

“I’ve probably been offered about 80 films. Half of the films I’ve immediately said no to, they’re British. The half that are left are rubbish,” he said.

Ricky Gervais doesn’t consider himself an actor for hire

Gervais considered himself both a writer and a comedian before considering himself an actor. Expanding his profession in the film industry was just a way to further preserve the material the Golden Globes host created.

“I only directed and produced to protect the writing and then I found that, well, I wrote this with my particular blend of inputs and I’m the best person for this role,” Gervais once said in an interview with Backstage.

So being considered an actor occasionally came with a bit of guilt on Gervais’ part. Especially when comparing his own efforts to the efforts of his contemporaries.

“I always feel like I’m getting away with something because I’m not really an actor for hire,” he continued. “When you create a character and you go, ‘Oh, there’s a part here for a Ricky Gervais–type character,’ and then someone goes, ‘We should ask Ricky Gervais!’ I’ve been offered biopics and stuff like that, but I explained to them that I’ll ruin their film! They wanted me to do Churchill and I was thinking, ‘You need a real actor!'”

Ricky Gervais would rather work on his own material than act in other creator’s projects


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Gervais has occasionally chosen to develop and write his own material. Shows like the original Office and Life’s Too Short, for instance, are both the comedian’s brainchildren. Most of the time, Gervais asserted that he would rather focus on his own work than participate in someone else’s. His preferences have often played a huge role in the kinds of films he’s turned down.

“A film’s gotta be amazing for me to take out six weeks when I could be creating something of my own,” he said. “And I love acting, but I do feel I’ve taken someone else’s role, which is why I only take roles where I feel like it was sort of made for me or it’s written for me or I’m the best person for the job or they want me to ad lib through things—that’s why all the roles you’ve seen me in are very me. I’m no Daniel Day-Lewis.”

His work ethic regarding his own material was something he felt also distinguished himself from other actors.

“I think most actors take roles because they think they won’t get offered another one that week or they’ve got to work every week of the year or they’re worried someone else will take it. I’ve never thought like that, and it is a luxury with what I do, but I’m never out of work because I write my own parts,” he said.