Stephen Merchant on his new HBO series and ‘Movie 43′

Love is pain! "Movie 43" hits theaters on January 25th.

Stephen Merchant has built quite the career behind the camera, writing and directing alongside creative partner Ricky Gervais for series like “The Office,” “Extras” and “Life’s Too Short,” but he always relishes a chance to get in front of the camera. Luckily director Peter Farrelly, who cast Merchant in 2011′s “Hall Pass,” had Merchant in mind for a segment in his raunchy comedy “Movie 43.”

I gather it didn’t take much convincing to get you to work with Peter again?
Yeah, basically Peter said, “Do you want to be in a sketch where you’re on a blind date with Halle Berry?” I think I probably said yes before he’d finished the word “Berry.” That might have been the best offer I’ve ever had. (laughs)

They’re trying to keep details of the movie under wraps, but how much of the craziness that you get up to in this are you allowed to talk about?

Do you know, I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about. Basically it’s Halle and I on a blind date, and she introduces the idea of Truth or Dare, so our dares start quite modestly and kind of escalate in absurdity and comic grotesqueness.

It’s odd to think of either of you needing to go on a blind date.
Well, I do actually say to her in the sketch, “I’m surprised that she’s on a blind date.” I think people can accept that I’m on a blind date. I agree that it’s mad that she is, but there you are. (laughs)

Peter tells me he predicts “Movie 43″ will get a 6 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
I mean, it’d be lucky if it gets a 6, I’d have thought. I’m constantly amazed by the disparity between critical appreciation of things and audiences. I have no idea anymore what an audience will respond to and what a critic will respond to. I’ll go see a movie that’s been critically applauded and I’ll hate it, or you know, I’ll go see something which they loathed and which kills me. So I no longer have any idea what either the critics or an audience wants to see.

You’ve pretty successfully made the jump from writing to acting, starting with “Extras.” Was that always part of the plan?
It was always my plan. I mean, I always felt like I was a performer. It was never an intention not to perform. When we did “The Office,” neither of us were experienced performers, and it seemed kind of foolhardy for us both to try and be in front of the camera and also writing it and also directing it. But I think Ricky and I always knew that I was a performer and it was sort of in our armory, and so when I was in “Extras,” people were quite surprised, like this was a novelty. I just don’t think people tend to think of me as an actor, so I don’t tend to get offered much acting stuff.

Is there anything you’ve been doing to change that perception?

Well, not really, but I’m doing this sitcom for HBO [called "Hello Ladies"], which is me as a would-be ladies man in Los Angeles failing to seduce women and failing to be part of the beautiful world, and I’m doing that later in the year. So I hope people will see me performing in that because it’s the first time I get to be a three-dimensional character rather than a sort of comic idiot. I’m still an idiot, but I’m slightly more human, I think, in it.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…

Local

G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.

International

Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…

Local

Family, supporters gather in Brooklyn for Eric Garner…

Family members gathered on Wednesday for the funeral of Eric Garner, who died shortly after police put him in a banned chokehold as they arrested him.

Going Out

Where to go drinking on National Tequila Day…

Thursday is just close enough to the end of the week to make you envision yourself already sunning on a beach towel or lounging by…

Going Out

Things to do in NYC this week: July…

Performing arts A 70’s Summer Night Friday, 6:30 p.m. The Green Building 452 Union St., Gowanus $35, 347-529-6473 Party like it’s summer in the 1970s…

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

MLB

Brandon McCarthy finds his calling on Twitter

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy joined Twitter three year ago for the same reason many people do: to get news quickly.

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

Food

Recharge with a post-workout smoothie from Nicky Hilton

Some people can roll out of bed right as their alarm goes off. And that alarm isn’t set for 20 minutes before they have to…

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Career

How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…