Before his second stint as host of the Golden Globe Awards in 2011, comedian Ricky Gervais said, “I guarantee they will not invite me back.”
Well, the 2020 Golden Globes on Sunday marks Gervais’ fifth time as host — after 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016 — making him the most frequent ringmaster of award season’s famously drunken circus.
Gervais’ years have been defined by controversy, however, as the comic often bites the hand that feeds him, hounding beloved celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and implying that the Globes’ voting group, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is corrupt.
But it was Gervais’ killer instinct as the ceremony’s first host in 15 years that opened the door for later acclaimed hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to be vicious towards James Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Here are some of Gervais’ most notorious zingers at the Globes.
Gervais regrets one joke most of all from his Golden Globes hosting gigs, he told The Hollywood Reporter. And, strangely enough, it’s one of his most innocuous — a jab at “Home Improvement” actor Tim Allen in 2011.
“What can I say about our next two presenters?” he said on the telecast. “The first is an actor, producer 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.”
“I have nothing against Tim Allen,” Gervais told THR. “He’s a good actor. He’s probably a nice bloke.”
At the 2016 Golden Globes, Gervais made a dig at transgender reality TV star, Caitlyn Jenner.
“I’m going to be nice tonight. I’ve changed,” he said. “Not as much as Bruce Jenner, obviously — now Caitlyn Jenner. 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 you?”
The joke was slammed by many for being transphobic, but Gervais took to Twitter to defend his comedy.
“Suggesting a joke about Caitlin Jenner is automatically transphobic is like suggesting a joke about Bill Cosby is automatically racist,” he tweeted.
One Gervais bit that caused a ruckus was nearly a million times worse.
For the 2016 ceremony, the host was ready to take aim at an easy target — Mel Gibson.
“I’m in the awkward position of having to introduce him again,” the comedian said. “Listen, I’m sure it’s embarrassing for both of us, OK? And I blame NBC for this terrible situation.”
Added Gervais: “Mel blames… We know who Mel blames.”
But THR reported that two more words popped up on the teleprompter that Gervais ultimately decided not to say: “The Jews.”
Gervais has gone after Angelina Jolie a few times over the years.
In 2010, for her international 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. 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, ‘Mummy!’”
In 2011, for her movie “The Tourist”: “It was a big year for 3D movies — ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Despicable Me,’ ‘Tron’. Seems like everything this year was three-dimensional, except the characters in ‘The Tourist’,” he said. “I feel bad about that joke, because I’m jumping on the bandwagon, I haven’t even seen ‘The Tourist.’ Who has? But it must be good, because it was nominated.”
A joke about Scientologists in 2011 led some viewers to believe Gervais had been fired mid-ceremony.
“Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, two heterosexual actors pretending to be gay,” he began. “So the complete opposite of some famous Scientologists, then. My lawyers helped with that joke.”
Afterwards, Piers Morgan tweeted: “Gervais not seen for an hour now.”
At the last ceremony he hosted, in 2016, Gervais sent up actress Jennifer Lawrence’s call for equal pay between men and women in Hollywood.
“Jennifer Lawrence got overwhelming support from people everywhere,” he said. “How the hell can a 25-year-old live on $52 million a year?”