Ricky Gervais' The Invention of Lying opens October 2, but the British comedian is already working on his next project. Cemetery Junction re-teams him with The Office and Extras co-creator and director Stephen Merchant. Gervais describes their first big-screen collaboration to Collider as following "the minutia of human behavior".
I suppose it's about class. It's a romantic drama I suppose. It's funny though. It's sort of a return to what Steve and I do best ... the minutia of human behavior. It's set in the early '70s and it's about a group of twenty-somethings that try to escape that stifling small town sort of mentality. One of the lines that inspired us is from [Bruce Springsteen's] "Thunder Road." It's a town full of losers and we're pulling out of here to win. It's like our Saturday Night Fever.
Gervais says the movie is definitely inspired by his own life.
Well, everything you do is autobiographical. Yeah, I grew up in a town called Redding and I had older brothers and sisters so it's all my memories of growing up. It's not a depressing, gritty British movie about blue collar and working class ... it's quite a celebration of that. I had great memories of growing up in a working class estate. I remember it being sunny all the time. So we're putting that on screen. It's not people wallowing in degradation. There was a nobility in poverty when I was growing up. My mom was poor but she was planting roses and she was cleaning the steps, you know what I mean. You didn't feel sorry for yourself.
Cemetery Gates stars Gervais alongside Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, and Matthew Goode, as well as a younger cast of unknown British actors, a move Gervais says was necessary.
We cast wide and new. So it's four completely unknowns. The terrible thing in England is if you interview a thousand people, five hundred of them will talk like they're going into a Guy Ritchie movie and the other five hundred will be Mr. Darcy. So we had to find cool, working-class kids with no profile who could be John Travolta and James Dean and people like that.
How the younger cast of unknowns (Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, Jack Doolan, Felicity Jones) relate to the story was explained to RottenTomatoes in more detail by Merchant.
It's about a group of working-class lads in the '70s, one of whom aspires to be better than his dad — played by Ricky — and not go to work in a factory. Instead, he goes to work for Ralph Fiennes' character; a sort-of white-collar job. He finds a role model in him but in doing that he starts to drift away from his friends who are still in that world. It's the story of them, really, and whether that friendship will last.