Looking Back on Ricky Gervais' Most Shocking Golden Globes Moments
By Zach Seemayer
Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Ricky Gervais is, without question, one of the most controversial Golden Globes hosts of all time, making jokes that offend the stars being honored, insult the organization behind the show, and generally turn the night into a polarizing roast.
Recently, Gervais sat down for an episode of The Graham Norton Show and revealed that the producers really don't know what he's going to do. When Norton asked about whether they approve Gervais' script, the comic explained, "When I do [the show], I say, 'I'm gonna say what I want, I don't have to rehearse,' and they say, 'That's fine.' But I do have to tell a lawyer [the jokes] just before I go on."
"People ask, 'Why do you go to so much trouble to offend people?' and I say, 'It's no trouble. It's easy," Gervais added with a laugh.
In a statement released in November, announcing that he'd be returning for the fifth time as host, Gervais said it would be the last time, and implied that would make it an event to remember. "Once again, they've made me an offer I can’t refuse. But this is the very last time I’m doing this, which could make for a fun evening," he said, ominously.
So how insane could it really get? In preparation for Gervais' return, we're taking a look back at the most controversial, offensive, biting, often hilarious and downright brutal jokes from his four previous appearances, to get a good sense of what we have in store for the British comic's Golden Globes swan song.
For the 67th Annual Golden Globes, Gervais was tapped to serve as host after the ceremony had gone unhosted for the previous six decades -- save for one year in 1995 when John Larroquette and Janine Turner became the show's first-ever hosts, after which the show went back to having no emcee for another 15 years.
Without any set expectations -- or an understanding of what was about to befall Hollywood on one of the industry's most fun evenings -- Gervais hit the stage and truly shocked the world with his brand of take-no-prisoners comedy.
Totally unafraid of mocking celebrities right to their face, Gervais brought the same kind of biting, often painfully awkward, fearless comedic sensibilities to the ceremony that he pioneered in his sitcoms The Office and Extras. And, honestly, a lot of people weren't down with it.
Gervais Kicks Things Off With Genital Humor
Gervais set the tone with his monologue, in which he mocked Hollywood's love for plastic surgery and made everyone think about his own anatomy.
"Looking at all the wonderful faces here today reminds me of the great work that’s been done this year -- by cosmetic surgeons," Gervais joked. "I've had some work done, too. I’ve had a penis reduction. Just got the one now. And it is very tiny. But then so are my hands, so when I’m holding it it looks pretty big."
He Pokes Fun at Anglina Jolie's Adoptions
“Actors aren’t just loved here in Hollywood, they are loved the world over. You could be in the third world and get a glimpse of a Hollywood star and it could make you feel a little bit better," Gervais said. "You could be a little Asian child with no possessions and no money. But you could see a picture of Angelina Jolie and you’d think, 'Mommy!'"
He Starts His Public Comedic Feud With Mel Gibson
One of Gervais' recurring targets of his harshest jokes during his multiple hosting gigs has been Mel Gibson -- who was famously arrested for a DUI in 2006, where he made anti-semitic comments to the arresting officer. Gibson was considered to be essentially a blacklisted pariah in 2010, but Gervais didn't miss a chance to get in some digs.
"I hope I haven’t offended anyone. It’s not my fault," Gervais said toward the end of the show, holding up his glass of beer. "I like a drink as much as the next man. Unless the next man is Mel Gibson."
Despite some of the pushback from celebrities and concerns that Gervais' material as host was too raunchy or mean, he returned in 2011, and even said during his opening monologue, referring to the show's producers when they asked him back, "I warned 'em!" It was a warning that went unheeded -- and led to even more shocking one-liners that became ingrained in Golden Globes history.
Gervais Takes Aim at Scientology
If there's one Hollywood organization it's safe to say most public figures are wary of offending, it's the Church of Scientology. But that didn't stop Gervais from making jokes about the organization -- as well as a pointed joked about the rumors sexual orientations of several prominent actors, whom he left unnamed.
“Also not nominated, I Love You Phillip Morris. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay. So the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists, then," Gervais quipped, adding, "My lawyers helped with that joke.”
He Takes On Charlie Sheen
In 2011, in the midst of Charlie Sheen's infamous "Winning/Tiger's Blood/Warlock" era, Gervais turned to reports of his behavior to lambaste the controversial sitcom star.
"It’s going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking -- or, as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast." Gervais said. "Wow, so let’s get this straight, so what he did was, he picked up a porn star, paid her to have dinner with him, introduced her to his ex-wife -- as you do -- went to a hotel, got drunk, got naked, trashed the place while she was locked in a cupboard, and that was a Monday. What does he do New Year’s Eve?"
Gervais Mocks Hugh Hefner's Marriage
"Talking of the walking dead, congratulations to Hugh Hefner, who is getting married at age 84 to 24-year-old beauty Crystal Harris," Gervais said. "When asked why she was marrying him, she said, 'He lied about his age. He told me he was 94.'"
"Just don't look at it when you touch it," Gervais added, to audible groans of awkward discomfort from the audience.
He Rips Into The Tourist, Accuses HFPA of Taking Bribes
When The Tourist was nominated for three Golden Globes, despite being critically panned and generally dismissed, Gervais didn't miss an opportunity to both mock the film, it's stars -- Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, both of whom earned Golden Globe noms themselves for their performances in the movie -- as well as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, claiming they nominated them just to have a chance to hang out with the famous stars.
"It was a big year for 3-D movies. Toy Story, Despicable Me, Tron. It seemed like everything this year was three-dimensional. Except the characters in The Tourist," Gervais siad. "I already feel bad about that joke. I tell you what, I’m jumping on the bandwagon, because I haven’t even seen The Tourist. Who has? But it must be good because it’s nominated, so shut up, OK?"
"And I’d like to crush this ridiculous rumor that the only reason The Tourist was nominated was so that the foreign press of could hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie," he added. "That was not the only reason -- they also accepted bribes."
He Goes After the Women of Sex In The City
"There were a lot of big films that didn’t get nominated this year. Nothing for Sex and the City 2. No, I was sure the Golden Globe for special effects would go to the team that airbrushed that poster. Great job," Gervais said. "Girls, we know how old you are. I saw one of you in an episode of Bonanza."
Gervais returned for his third year in a row, and this time he was reportedly warned to tone down his offensive remarks -- which he seemed to take as a suggestion to simply insult stars who weren't actually in the room. Then, after seemingly getting bored of that, he began to go off-script -- or at least his promise to behave -- and really dug into the stars. However, this time around, most of them were seemingly prepared for the shock value, and the general audible gasps didn't resonate as loudly, and the jokes didn't land with as much punch. But not for lack of trying.
Gervais Goes After Royal Families, The Oscars and Eddie Murphy All At Once
The English comic has also used his platform at the Golden Globes to essentially trash the Golden Globes, or at least knock them down a peg. This time around, he did so with a decent comparison between the Royal Family and the Kardashian Family, and mocked Eddie Murphy's 2007 storm-off after losing the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
"For any of you who don't know, the Golden Globes are just like the Oscars, but without all that esteem," Gervais joked. "The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton: A bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker and more easily bought -- allegedly. Nothing’s been proved."
"But who needs the Oscars? Not me. And not Eddie Murphy," Gervais continued. "He walked out on them. And good for him! But when the man who said 'yes' to Norbit says 'no' to you, you know you're in trouble."
He Pokes Fun at Natalie Portman's Decision to Be a Mom
Sometimes, Gervais' comments can just be flat-out insults. Other times, he uses bitter, biting irony to make self-effacing jokes intended to make him sound like a heartless monster. Although some didn't get that he was being ironic when he took a fake swipe at Natalie Portman starting her family.
"Last year, our next presenter won both the Golden Globe and the Oscar for her work in Black Swan. This year, she took some time out to have a baby. Consequently, she’s been nominated for nothing. Really pathetic," Gervais joked. "But she learned that valuable lesson you all already knew -- never put family first. Please welcome the very foolish Natalie Portman."
He Also Attacked Hollywood's Sweetheart Colin Firth
Everybody loves Colin Firth, and that's exactly why Gervais' over-the-top joke about Firth's secret dark side really worked -- as long as you understood the point of the gag.
“He's also swooned over by women. I don’t see it. Good luck to him. … What you don’t know about Colin Firth is he’s very racist. I mean, really nasty stuff. I’ve also seen him punch a little blind kitten," Gervais deadpanned. "Please welcome the evil Colin Firth."
His Off-the-Cuff Joke About Spanish Accents Gets Censored, Labeled as Racist
Gervais' low point, according to many critics, came when he seemingly mocked Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, who were presenting at the show. The comic, who spent most of the night with a drink in his hand, was accused of making a racist remark, and because he dropped a swear in, most of the joke was censored anyway.
"They're probably very interesting," Gervais said. "I wouldn't know because I can't understand a f**king word they're saying."
After three years of the affable, charming and (mostly) friendly hosting antics from the incomparable duo of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, the HFPA turned once more to the acidic wit of Gervais -- which had proven to be a ratings boon for the awards show in the past -- and the British comic came out swinging. His fourth time as host proved to perhaps be his most controversial, and it was met with the most outspoken push back from the celebs in the audience and in critics' reviews the next day.
Gervais Sets the Tone Right Off the Bat
The comedian kicked things off with exactly the kind of satirical abuse people expected, amped up to 11, telling the star-studded audience, "Shh. Shut up, you disgusting, pill-popping, sexually deviant scum."
Gervais Jokes About Caitlyn Jenner's Transition and a Fatal Car Accident
"I'm going to be nice tonight. I’ve changed -- not as much as Bruce Jenner. Obviously. Now Caitlyn Jenner, of course," Gervais said. "What a year she’s had! 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 ya? Not at the same time."
He Makes Light of Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal and Roman Polanski
"The excellent Spotlight has been nominated. Yeah. The Catholic Church are furious about the film as it exposes that 5 percent of all their priests have repeatedly molested children and been allowed to continue to work without punishment," Gervais explained. "Roman Polanski called it 'the best date movie ever.'"
Gervais Makes a Good Point About the Gender-Based Pay Gap In Hollywood
Around the time that Gervais hosted in 2016, calls to reform the disparity in pay between male and female actors had started to become a major issue being championed by some of the industry's biggest names. It makes his joke about the popularity of female-driven reboots all the more pointed and insightful.
"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 11," Gervais explained. "And this is brilliant for the studios because they get guaranteed box office results and they don’t have to spend too much money on the cast."
He Jokes About Using His Own Golden Globe as a Sex Toy
"Remember if you do win tonight, no one cares about that award as much as you do. Don’t get emotional, it’s embarrassing. That award is, no offense, worthless. It’s a bit of metal some nice old confused journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie with you, okay? That’s all it is!" Gervais said, "I've got three Golden Globes, myself. One's a doorstop, one I use to hit burglars with and one I keep by the bed to... doesn't matter why. It's mine! I won it fair and square. It's just the right shape and size... It's nothing."
"So, to be clear, that was a joke about me shoving a Golden Globe, that I won, up my a**. And they asked me to host four times!" he added.
He Makes Things Awkward for Matt Damon
One of the most audible gasps of the night came when Gervais brought Damon out as a presenter and introduced him as "The only person Ben Affleck hasn’t been unfaithful to."
He Finally Shares the Stage With Mel Gibson
After savaging Gibson multiple times during his times as host, Gervais finally had to share the stage with the controversial actor -- who was asked to come out and present a tribute to Mad Max: Fury Road, which was nominated for Best Picture.
"I’m in the awkward position of having to introduce him again. Listen, I’m sure it’s embarrassing for both of us. I blame NBC for this terrible situation. Mel blames…we know who Mel blames," Gervais said. "Listen, I still feel a bit bad for it. Mel’s forgotten all about it apparently, that’s what drinking does. I want to say something nice about Mel before he comes out. So: I’d rather have a drink with him in his hotel room tonight than with Bill Cosby."
Gervais will take the stage for his fifth and (supposedly) final time when the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony kicks off live coast-to-coast on NBC on Sunday, Jan. 5 from 5-8 p.m. PT/8-11 p.m. ET from The Beverly Hilton.