Ricky Gervais has been making the media rounds the past few weeks to talk about his new movie The Invention of Lying.
In the movie, lying leads to, among other things, the invention of religion.
So, Gervais has been talking about religion in many of the interviews he’s done:
When [Gervais’ character] Mark Bellison learns to lie, he learns it can be used to comfort people, not just for personal gain. Something close to Gervais’s heart.
“I’ve been an atheist all my life,” he continues, “but I always knew that if my mum asked me when she was dying if there was a heaven I’d say yes. I’d lie. I think that’s how religion started – as a good lie. If you’re not an atheist you can watch this film without getting angry. I watch films about angels, love ’em. I don’t think you have to treat something that comes down on one side as propaganda.”
Gervais insists he isn’t worried that his views about religion could ruin his career.
“I’ve never tiptoed around the subject, not even in America,” he said. “I say it on TV in America; I say it on radio in America. I nail it to the mast. I did Inside The Actors Studio and the students were taken aback.
“I don’t see why we would ever get hate mail,” [Gervais] said at the movie’s press conference. “We decided that in this world, that’s how religion started. It’s an alternative world. It’s in no way atheist propaganda. I love films about angels and things like that and I wouldn’t go, ‘Oh, they’re coming down on one side here.’ Like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ I don’t leave the cinema with my faith or lack of it challenged. I don’t think people should take this as anything other than an artistic choice.”
But as might be expected from a Gervais-led panel, every serious pronouncement about the film is countered with something funny. [Writer/director Matthew] Robinson adds, “I wrote this film to denounce one organized religion in particular and that’s Greek mythology. Because Zeus is not real. I don’t believe in him and I don’t think anyone else should.”
The ever-earnest [Jennifer] Garner embraces the prospect of controversy. “Isn’t it great if [the film] does start a conversation? Religion is something worth examining and your faith is something worth questioning. So I think if this movie asks that of people, that’s not a bad thing.”
Gervais prods Garner for her own belief system. “Yes, I do believe in God,” she confirms. “Thank you for making that clear.”
Gervais’ appearance on Inside the Actors Studio can be seen here (with transcript).
(Thanks to Deanna for the link!)