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

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

Local

Mugger uses chokeholds in Central Park attacks: NYPD

Cops are searching for a Manhattan mugging suspect tied to at least two attacks near Central Park this week.

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

By Rich MckayABIDJAN (Reuters) - An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged…

News

Ditka calls Redskins team name critics 'politically correct…

Mike Ditka, the 74-year-old 11-season coach of the Chicago Bears and 3-season coach of the New Orleans Saints, may be endangering his position as an…

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

Television

TV watch list, Thursday, Aug. 21: 'Simpsons,' 'Simpsons'…

It's time to change the channel to FXX, and then never change it again, as you watch all the "Simpsons" episodes you can handle.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…