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Ricky Gervais is a British comedian best known for co-writing and co-directing the television series The Office.
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The Office earned high praise from critics, and won over numerous fans in Britain, who tuned in to watch this sometimes cringe-inducing comedy. In 2003, after only two seasons, Gervais and Merchant decided to end the show. He explained the rationale behind this decision to People magazine: "It won't get any better,
" he said. "The quality will go down. I don't want to let people down."
Gervais began developing quite a fan base in the United States after The Office was aired on the BBC America cable channel. With his growing fame, he started receiving many film and television offers. He turned down roles in such box office hits as Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and The Da Vinci Code, but he accepted a chance to play a villain on the TV spy drama Alias. He reportedly told The Da Vinci Code director Ron Howard that "I'm very flattered, but I'm a comedian . . . This is a very serious film. People will laugh and go, That's the guy from The Office," he told Entertainment Weekly.
For his efforts on The Office, he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy in 2004. Gervais launched two new television projects the following year, Extras and an American version of The Office starring Steve Carell. On Extras, he and Merchant wrote a behind-the-scenes comedy about Hollywood. The show covered many of the same themes as The Office—"ego, desperation, men behaving like boys," he explained to Newsweek. This time around, however, Gervais played the more jaded, world-weary actor Andy Millman. The series poked fun at numerous celebrities, such as Kate Winslet and David Bowie, who made cameo appearances.
Also in 2005, Gervais took over another form of media. His video podcast, The Ricky Gervais Show, became one of the most popular downloads on the Internet. Currently on hiatus, the show featured the humorous exploits of Gervais, Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. The program later inspired the 2010 animated series, which debuted on HBO that February.
For his work on both Extras and the American version of The Office, Gervais received countless award nominations. He won two Emmy Awards—one for Outstanding Comedy Series for The Office in 2006 and one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Extras in 2007. After Extras ended, Gervais did a stand-up comedy tour and landed some leading film roles.
In the comedy Ghost Town (2008), Gervais starred as a man who can see dead people. He worked both sides of the camera for 2009's The Invention of Lying—writing, co-directing, and acting in the project. In the film, Gervais starred opposite Jennifer Garner, playing the only person in the world able to lie. Some critics noted that this humorous film had its more serious moments, offering up its jabs at organized religion among other topics.
Gevais returned to British television in 2011 with Life's Too Short, a faux documentary series that he describes as a "cross between The Office and Extras." The show stars actor and little person Warwick Davis, and follows his efforts to achieve stardom.
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After the Britpop music scene of the early 90's, a new genre of celebrities stepped into the London spotlight from athletic superstars such as David Beckham to pop culture phenomenons like Simon Cowell and Susan Boyle. Alternative rock acts like Elastica and Oasis were replaced with soulful songstresses like Amy Whinehouse and Adele, and actors like Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley and Robert Pattinson became international superstars. The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton also became a royal, social and fashion icon, as well as a defining figure of the decade. Biography celebrates these cultural icons of the new post-Britpop era.
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