When asked by The Hollywood Reporter if he ever regretted something he’d said about another person, Gervais responded, “Yeah, Tim Allen.”
The British stand-up comedian, 58, recalled making a joke about Allen, 66, at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards, which Gervais says he regrets now “because I think he took it wrong.”
“The joke was him and Tom Hanks,” Gervais explained. “So I came out and said, ‘Our next two presenters, the first has won five Oscars, combined box office of five billion dollars. And the other, Tim Allen.’ Right? It’s a fine joke. I’m teasing Tim Allen.”
He continued, “But anyone standing next to Tom Hanks, unless it’s Dustin Hoffman or Robert Redford or Robert De Niro, that could be me. But it happened to be Tim Allen. And I have nothing against Tim Allen. He’s a good actor. He’s probably a nice bloke. So even though there’s no malice and I can justify it comedically and everyone laughed, I didn’t want Tim Allen to think, ‘Oh, that was written for me. Why me?’ Well, because you were standing next to Tom Hanks.”
Gervais return to the first awards show of 2020 hasn’t been smooth sailing. The actor and comedian faced backlash on social media for seemingly transphobic tweets he made on Twitter.
He initially responded to a tweet regarding Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling‘s support of a British researcher who was fired after expressing anti-transgender sentiments. (Rowling faced backlash after tweeting her support of Maya Forstater after Forstater lost a court hearing challenging her termination from the Centre for Global Development.)
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The tweet that Gervais replied to contained a link to a satirical article that was written from the “perspective” of a transgender woman.
“Those awful biological women can never understand what it must be like for you becoming a lovely lady so late in life,” Gervais tweeted. “They take their girly privileges for granted. Winning at female sports and having their own toilets. Well, enough is enough.”
Gervais told THR of how the jokes came to be — and how he felt they were taken in the wrong context.
“Jarvis Dupont is a spoof Twitter account, and the joke is that he’s so woke that he’s actually gone full circle and does terrible things. And his latest [bit] is, ‘I’m trans now.’ And he gets all that wrong. And I responded by playing along with him, saying, ‘Oh, you’re so much better than biological women because they’ve had a lifetime to get used to it,’” Gervais told the publication.
“Now, people saw my tweet and they thought he’s a real trans person, but I’m taking the piss out of Jarvis Dupont, who is actually a woman in real life. And this is the problem,” he continued. “You can say, ‘Listen, I was joking. It’s a joke.’ But that’s not always enough for people. They go, ‘Well, why were you joking?’ Also, add to that the nature of Twitter — it’s so curt, there’s no nuance, it’s there forever out of context.”
“Deep down, I want people to know I’m not a racist or a homophobe or a sexist,” he added.
In November, it was announced that Gervais would host the upcoming 77th annual Golden Globes, making his fifth time hosting the awards show.
News of Gervais’ casting came after more awards shows have opted to forgo an emcee altogether, starting with the Academy Awards in February of this year. When controversy caused the previously announced Oscars host Kevin Hart to step down, the Academy proceeded with a host-less program.
Gervais — who won a Golden Globe in 2004 for his performance in The Office‘s original U.K. series — previously hosted the show in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016. He will now hold the record for the performer who has hosted the Globes the most.
The 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony will air live on NBC from the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 5 starting at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.