Ricky Gervais goes behind the scenes for a unique look at what to expect from the BBC2 series. Featuring clips and interviews with guest stars such as Sting and Johnny Depp.
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Hi... Hi. Welcome. I'm Warwick Davis.
With me, Ricky Gervais.
Am I not leading this?
Cos I'm just doing like you do. This is for my website.
No, you are and it's brilliant.
-You're supposed to go "hi" and acknowledge that.
-I was going to.
-You were ready for that? OK.
Hi, um, welcome...
-Don't say, "Hi, um..." "Um" after the first word?
-Think what you're going to say and say it. Articulate.
-And be warm.
-You do plenty of "ums".
-Did he just answer back then to Ricky Gervais?
-Sounds like it.
-Hang on a minute.
-Listen, I've been in the business 30 years. How long have you been acting?
-That's a fair point. He's got you.
Hello, I'm Warwick Davis and welcome...
-Would I say "viewers"?
-What are you asking me for? I haven't been acting as long as you.
-What does my opinion matter? You've been in the business 30 years.
-"Hello, readers?" Yeah, "readers".
-You seem to know it all.
-"Fans." That's good.
-Don't look at me!
-A mistake before the first word!
-That's got to be some sort of record.
-Don't even look!
-A mistake before he opened his mouth to speak!
Hello, Dwarfs For Hire?
-I don't know where to turn. There's no work coming in at the minute.
-Are you doing any more Extras perhaps? Maybe we could...
-What else are you working on at the minute?
-Just other TV and film and, you know...
Any actors required for that?
Actors? Do you need actors?
We will need actors at some point.
-But not necessarily...
Life's Too Short is a fake documentary,
-starring this little fella, Warwick Davis.
-Thanks very much.
-You may recognise him from Return Of The Jedi.
-They wouldn't. His face was covered up.
People know, people know.
You played that android again completely in a...
-It wasn't even your voice in the end. Alan Rickman overdubbed it. That could be anyone there.
Willow, that was about 30 years ago, wasn't it?
-No-one really saw it.
-How old were you then?
-It's still a valid credit, whenever it was done.
-Extras. That's where people know him from.
-It wasn't clear if he was playing himself.
He was just a dwarf I kicked in the face.
-What are you doing?
-What do you think I've got this ring for?
-You're a Hobbit?
-You fat shit!
-I don't know what the rules are for fighting him.
That usually works in cartoons.
Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no.
No, no, no, no. Accidental...
The character in Life's Too Short, Warwick Davis, is very different to the real Warwick Davis.
The Warwick Davis in the show, his life's out of control, basically.
He's had a taste of success, but it's all going horribly wrong.
His marriage has failed. He was arrogant, selfish. She doesn't want to know him any more.
He wants her back, but only because he wants to win, not because he loves her.
-I'll tell you what happened. What happened was he thought...
-What did I think? Mystic Meg here!
He thought he could do better than me. He thought he could trade me in for a taller, more beautiful model.
-But he couldn't.
-I could have. I didn't want to.
-He did try.
-I just didn't want to cos I'm faithful.
-He's back, but it's too late.
-No, it doesn't have to be.
The lawyer who's overseeing the divorce between Warwick and his wife
is a guy called Ian Wold who's got his feet well under the table.
-Are you wearing slippers?
-Is it normal practice to be round a client's house wearing slippers?
What lawyer wears slippers? I've just never seen that before.
They didn't wear slippers on LA Law. Perry Mason never had slippers on.
As Ironside, he never had slippers on and he was in a wheelchair. He didn't need shoes and he wore shoes.
He's got the worst accountant ever.
-Have you spoken to the Inland Revenue?
They are not pressing charges. I convinced them that you really didn't know what you were doing.
-You're my accountant. You're the one that's supposed to tell me if I owe tax.
-Yeah, yeah, I know.
The figure they said I owed was 250,000. Where are we now?
I was cheeky, I said he won't do it again, it went a bit back and forth,
and the figured I arrived at was £50,000.
£50,000? That's great.
Wait, no. They said "no" to that. A very definite "no".
So what was the figure you agreed on?
-That's what they wanted to start with. That's not negotiating. You've just agreed with them!
Yes, all right, but they are the tax people. They understand your accounts better than me.
I'm not going to argue with them.
He's got the worst PA assistant. She's working there because her parents want her out of the house
-and they said she can live rent-free if she doesn't come home till six.
-Brainstorming. I'll make some notes.
I'll start with number one.
OK, in your own time...
-The company is called Dwarfs For Hire. Is that right?
-Yes, it is.
-Can't you do other stuff apart from acting?
-Yeah. Such as?
-Chimney sweep? Why am I suddenly doing that?
-It used to be children, didn't it?
-100 years ago, yeah.
-It's cruel to send children up there nowadays.
-But not to send a dwarf up there?
-No, because you're an adult, aren't you? Oh, are you not? I thought you were an adult.
-Of course I am.
I'm also a businessman and I've been in big films. Why am I running up chimneys?
-It's the worst situation in the world.
You're divorcing the wife. The lawyer doing it is going out with her and divorcing you.
The worst PA and the worst accountant in the world. His only hope is us.
-Can you write me a film?
-I don't know. You have the idea.
Can we have the idea later? We're snowed under at the moment.
-You know what I mean?
-Yeah, I understand.
That's an excuse, a conduit to get him to meet all these A-listers
who in our world just come and hang out in our office.
'Liam Neeson decides that he's going to try and do some comedy.
'Excruciating. One of the favourite sketches we've ever written, I think.
'Today, I was shooting a scene'
with Ricky and Stephen and Warwick Davis...
..where I play myself
who is coming into the office to see the guys
who have kindly agreed to see me because I want to break into comedy.
Here's some of the stuff I'd like to work on.
Improv, stand-up comedy,
funny monologues, crazy characters, sketches,
slapstick, anecdotes, parody.
You noticed this list? I'm always making lists.
In fact, that's probably why Steven Spielberg cast me as Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List.
I said, "Steven, I make lists all the time."
And he said, "That's exactly what I'm looking for."
-Weren't you joking about getting the part of Oskar Schindler cos you made lists?
It's a beautifully written scene. It was very funny.
The first time I read it, I was just splitting my sides with laughter,
then I thought I have to go through with this and I'm not going to be able to keep a straight face
because I'm a laugher, I laugh at the drop of a hat.
And, um... But it was nice because Ricky, Stephen and Warwick made me feel very, very at home
and Ricky...corpses as much as I do,
which was lovely, it was very reassuring.
225, take one. A and B cameras.
-Hi. What seems to be the problem?
ALL START LAUGHING
Oh, I was doing so well.
He closed his eyes.
He closed his eyes like it's the most important piece that's ever been acted!
-TAKES DEEP BREATH
-What seems to be the problem?
-As I said before, I've got full-blown AIDS.
THEY LAUGH LOUDLY
We're never going to get that...
He's doing his... Oh!
Johnny Depp confronts me about some of my Golden Globe comments.
-Here they are, the lads.
-I've been popping in every other day to see you guys.
-Seems like it.
-Have you met before? Johnny, this is Stephen.
-Hello. Nice to meet you.
-I remember him from the Golden Globes.
Ricky invited me to do something on his show
which would, you know, give me the opportunity to...
..yeah, smack him around a little.
What is nastier than Ricky Gervais's jokes? His teeth!
Why do people take an instant dislike to Ricky Gervais? Because it saves time! Ha-ha-ha!
I think he enjoyed it. I think he liked being smacked around.
'Warwick thinks he's got this great part on a film with Helena Bonham Carter
'and it doesn't turn out quite how he thinks.'
I love Warwick. I worked with him on Harry Potter.
He talked about it when I was dressed up as Bellatrix and him as Griphook.
He said, "I think I'm going to do this comedy series with Ricky."
It's so nice that it's happening.
When I walked on set, I thought, "There are even more people than on a Harry Potter set," and I was scared.
But then you realise half of them are fake, but you couldn't work out which ones were fake, which ones were real.
It was a bit surreal, but you know, it was good fun.
-Miss Fairfax, I'm scared.
-But fear is what makes you a man.
You cannot have courage without fear. I want you to remember that.
Then I must be a brave man, for..
-I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I can't.
-Cut, cut! What's the problem?
-It's just really hard to act opposite this, given the way it looks.
-I can't have its face staring at me like that.
-He worms his way into this charity event run by Sting.
-Our host, Sting!
Over here, please.
I got an email from Ricky Gervais,
I think about a week after his Golden Globes success.
Would you call it a success?
I immediately responded, "Fuck off!"
-How long would you sponsor a child like this for?
-Usually till they're 18.
18?! Whoa, OK...
How old is she now?
-Um, she's seven.
A lot of them don't live till they're 18, do they?
-That is the tragedy.
So she might not last till she's, I don't know, 12?
-Well, with your help, she will.
-Good. That's good, isn't it?
'It was fun to do.'
I mean, I had the piss taken out of me mercilessly, but it's good for me.
Where do I sign, Stingbo? Just there?
-We've done a cameo with Steve Carell who, because of my big mouth, we get into a lot of trouble.
Does that sound possible?
-We're in LA Thursday if you want to do dinner, have a chat?
-That sounds great. I'd love to.
-See you then.
-OK, good. See you later.
I must say...
It makes me laugh a bit that he's a household name because of the show
and now I've got to beg him to do the odd guest spot.
-He should be begging ME. Luckiest fucking actor in the world!
Are you still there, Steve?
Sorry, man. I thought I'd hung up.
No. No, you didn't.
That's it. Welcome. Come on in. Shut the door now.
Here we go. Everyone, over here. Look at this!
Look who it is! It's only the beautiful Cat Deeley! Yeah?
When I first got the call about the show, I was slightly nervous about it
because I've seen some of the other shows and they're brilliant,
but sometimes they're close to the mark, so I was a little nervous.
Then I read the few pages I did today and I loved them, laugh-out-loud, hilariously funny.
Cat Deeley, everyone!
Could you be slightly more polite? That's like you hate her.
"I've hated Cat Deeley for many fucking years and now she's turned up to my party!"
He runs an agency which Warwick does in real life,
but in this one, he's taken the best jobs for himself.
-He's ripping off other dwarf actors.
-We're worried there's a conflict of interest.
-If the phone rings, we don't know if you're representing us or taking the best roles for yourself.
-The phone never rings.
-Yes, it does.
In the script, Warwick is being confronted by his clients
and they're fed up getting awful roles, being fired from cannons.
His nemesis Anthony has done this rousing speech on a local news slot, saying,
"You shouldn't be ridiculed if you're a dwarf. You should be doing roles like Hamlet and Chaucer."
They go along with this and they make Warwick make a show reel for them
and the things they choose to show-reel are inappropriate.
- 352, take one. - And action.
OK. Brokeback Mountain, take one.
-I love you.
-Don't tell my wife.
-Don't disturb the horses.
-Where did you get this tent from?
And cut. Now I'd never get an actor to do anything I wouldn't do myself,
so let me show you what I mean. Merch, come here.
Oh...I love you.
-Don't tell my wife.
-No. And don't frighten the horses, either.
-Where'd you get the tent?
-Millets! It's Millets.
-Great. Really good.
-This is like the Generation Game.
Now they have a go.
STEPHEN: 'Warwick is also Vice Chairman of a society for small people.'
But he'd rather be Chairman, which means he's never really happy when he's at those meetings.
He always tries to steal the limelight.
I see our struggle exactly like the Civil Rights movement in America.
Of the two of us, I'm more like Martin Luther King. I've got the charisma and a way with words.
But that's not to say Anthony's not got an important role to play,
but he's more of a run-of-the-mill coloured chap.
Yes, I take all the glory and go down in history, but he's not getting shot in the head.
Swings and roundabouts.
-But somehow Warwick's natural warmth and humanity seems to excuse
-all of his terrible behaviour.
-Well, comedy is about empathy.
I do like the flawed character.
We love life's losers, but they're trying. If you didn't care, it wouldn't be interesting.
If he succeeded, it wouldn't be funny. So you have to have a bit of everything.
He has to have flaws, but it has to be grounded in humanity. You have to care for him a bit
or at least like to watch him fall over, sometimes literally.
I really enjoy that element, that slapstick. To be allowed to do that has been really great.
-I don't think you see it often enough now on TV anyway.
-It's just funny.
-And works with the character.
It's always at the point when everything's going fairly well and he thinks this is his moment.
When he gets his comeuppance, he's usually showing off.
If she comes over, don't say you're my date. Say you're my sister.
Wow! Did you see that? Just... Didn't quite manage it there.
Get this cleared up. She's going. Bye!
The Office reflected those quaint, old-fashioned docu-soaps that found ordinary people
-going about their lives who became sort of famous.
-Maureen from Driving School.
-Exactly. Jeremy Spake.
But this one is much more modern. It reflects these harsher ones,
where people live their life like an open wound to get a bit more fame.
It's a little bit awkward, this.
I don't want to put you on the spot, but I'm getting a bit desperate.
I wonder if you could... maybe give me five grand, just to live on?
Treat it like a charity donation.
-But you're not a charity, Warwick.
-As good as. You know...
I've got no work, no money, I'm homeless. I am a charity case.
'The camera's often a catalyst'
-for that as well. He's in a corner AND there's a camera there.
He's signed with the devil. He said, "Yeah, make me famous and I'll do anything you want."
-I found it. Simple. It's just a couple of tubes.
-You'd make a good plumber.
-You could get in all the little crevices, couldn't you?
-Yeah, I could, couldn't I?
-Something for when the acting work dries up.
-Why would you say that in front of...?
'One reason we went back'
to the documentary style is when we finished The Office we were exhausted by its limitations.
We'd run out of steam. But after a while we got itchy to go back because it offers...
Obviously, it offers an automatic sense of realism and naturalism
that just feeds into the believability of the world.
A faux pas is embarrassing when it happens, but it's usually with one or two people.
-This is going out around the world.
-It's a constant witness to every humiliation.
It's good for the audience. When someone looks down a lens, it brings them into their embarrassment.
They feel the pain...of someone getting caught doing something.
-What is this, then?
-About me, yeah.
-That's good exposure.
-That's what I thought. It's all good.
-See you later.
-Yeah, see you later.
People have already made their mind up that this is a cruel comedy
because there's a little person involved, so it has to be cruel.
-It couldn't be further from the truth.
-A lot of people keep saying to me, "You're being controversial."
-It never occurred to me that it was.
-It's not a controversial subject.
-Do you feel it is?
-Not at all.
This character... It's incidental that he's short.
-Absolutely. It... Yeah.
-It just happens that I play him.
Warwick Davis exists. This is what he looks like.
It's not... We haven't got an actor and put shoes on their knees and made them walk around
doing jokes about being small. You know...
-He tried it, but...
-I wanted this part.
-Hi. I'm Amy.
Will you excuse me for a minute?
Come here. She's a dwarf! She kept that quiet, didn't she?
There's no clue in that picture. That should be a full body shot.
With her stood next to a matchbox, like when they show how big a moth is. There's no clue there!
Where's the arms?!
There's a lot of rich material that is very funny,
but it's not funny in the way of,
"Ha ha! They're freakish. Let's point and laugh AT them,"
which I've seen a lot of in comedy.
It's actually coming from a place of, "OK, what's the point of view?"
Having consulted and talked with and learnt a little bit about the world of, where is the humour in it?
And where is the humour in, you know, the kind of social situations?
Not just pointing and laughing at somebody who's grossly deformed and thinking that's hilarious.
It comes from a smarter place.
Shall we try it again and this time don't presume you know who I'm meeting.
-Hello. I'm here to meet a woman.
-What is the choice of women tonight?
-We have two waiting.
-You just point them out and I'll tell you.
-There's the tall lady over there...
-Don't mention size.
-Or that lady.
-Oh, yeah. There she is.
-OK, so you are meeting her.
What was brilliant in your writing was you picked up on prejudices that the world has towards...
people who are different, but certainly people who are small.
You really got into the head of somebody who is small, my character, and showed the world from my view
'and how other people can often be in the way they react towards me.'
-Sorry to bother you. Can I get a picture?
-Anything for a fan.
-Fan of what?
-Fan of me.
-Why? Who are you?
-Warwick Davis, famous actor.
-If you don't know who I am, why do you want a picture?
-Cos it's funny, a dwarf carrying a box.
-Do you mind if I film you?
-Cos that's even funnier.
It's not a show that has relentless jokes about being small. It's not about that.
He's got a small man complex.
-Would you like me to get it down for you?
-I can get it.
-No! It's fine. I can manage.
'Warwick, what has the experience of playing yourself, but not yourself been like?'
The character is far removed from me, you know.
I haven't got a huge ego. I don't crave fame and attention.
But it's been really fun.
And quite liberating in a way to play out all those things you often suppress as a person
because of politeness. It's fun to play.
-Do you think I'm good looking?
-Not just for a dwarf.
-It doesn't count cos you're a dwarf.
-Your standards are probably pretty low.
-It's got a lot more flavours than our previous work.
-There's the domestic side...
We never had that in The Office. We never saw outside that office.
There was a very defined sit in sitcom, The Office.
Extras was very much about friendship with that backdrop of media,
whereas here he's got his showbiz side, he's got his domestic side, his love life.
His friends, his attitude, his ambitions.
Everything is... He's just trying to get something. He'll try to take anything from the world.
It was the wrong time for comedy.
Want to go into the toilet with me?
Are you getting all this?!
-What are you doing?!
-I put my arm round you.
-Warwick hasn't bid yet.
What are your hopes for the future?
Sales and Marketing.
He can't afford it. I'm his accountant.
I'm a funny guy, aren't I?
-Will these johnnies fit a dwarf?
-Got one here.
-How can you not know Heigh-Ho?
-Something about whisky?
You're a disgusting little creature and I want to squash you.
-You got everything?
-Got your special shampoo?
His real name's Gordon!
-Give me a kiss.
We've had a ball, haven't we? Eight weeks of sheer fun. Joking aside,
-this little guy is amazing.
-He's the comedy sensation of this year, I think.
That's very nice, coming from you. Thank you.
Be good. Look after yourself. Right, Tom and Jerry, get in! I've had it with this pair.
A couple of clowns! In!
When are you going to say, "Cut"? It's a long way on little legs.
Let him walk!
-Look, he's still going! He's still fucking going!
-It's not fair! Don't!
-I'm going to call "cut".
-You're winding me up.
-Wait 'til he gets to the end! What'll he do?
-Oh, this is ridiculous!
I don't think I ever let her down in the bedroom department.
-You know, I...
-I'd like to think that I always satisfied and, em...
-Sorry! I'm out of character here!
I couldn't do that!
As far as I'm concerned, I gave 110%.
Every time. Quality job.
-That was good. I was in trouble there.
-"Quality job." He ticked the air.
"Quality job." Ahh...do that again.
Oh, my God...
That's so childish.
RICKY HOOTS WITH LAUGHTER
Ricky Gervais takes us behind the scenes as he discusses the making of Life's Too Short with his co-creator Stephen Merchant and star Warwick Davis. Featuring a unique look at what to expect from the new BBC2 series, as well as an insight into how Ricky and Stephen work. The show features clips from the series and interviews with the guest stars including Liam Neeson, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Cat Deeley and Sting.