Ricky Gervais cannot tell a lie, or can he? Here are some facts about his 2009 comedy The Invention of Lying.
1. THE IDEA FOR THE MOVIE BEGAN AS A SHORT SKIT.
Screenwriter Matt Robinson’s original idea for a feature film grew from a skit he wrote about two people on a date who don’t have the ability to lie. He later expanded on the idea for more skits with the same premise and then adapted them into a full film script.
2. ROBINSON SENT THE SCRIPT TO GERVAIS ON A WHIM.
Robinson and producer Lynda Obst sent Gervais the script out of the blue in the hopes that it would spark his interest. Gervais loved it and eventually flew Robinson to London to retool the script and make the movie.
3. SPIKE JONZE AND MICHEL GONDRY WERE ON A SHORTLIST OF DIRECTORS.
Gervais and Robinson drew up a list of dream directors for the film, including Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) and Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Ultimately, they decided to direct it themselves.
4. IT’S GERVAIS’S FEATURE FILM DIRECTORIAL DEBUT.
Gervais had previously directed episodes of the UK version of The Office and his show Extras before jumping to feature films with The Invention of Lying.
5. THE SCRIPT WAS ON 2007’s BLACK LIST.
Matt Robinson’s screenplay, which was titled This Side of Truth at the time, was included in the year’s official list of the “most liked” un-produced scripts in Hollywood [PDF].
6. ROBINSON EVENTUALLY BECAME A PODCASTER.
The Invention of Lying is Robinson’s only feature film directorial effort to date. He is now the co-host of a podcast called Get Up On This, wherein he and a co-host predict pop culture trends before they happen.
7. THE MOVIE INCLUDES A SLY NOD TO WOODY ALLEN.
The movie’s credits feature white text in the Windsor font on a black background—a style used in nearly all of Allen’s films.
8. IT’S FILLED WITH A-LIST CAMEOS.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the bartender, Edward Norton plays the highway patrolman, Jason Bateman plays the doctor, and Christopher Guest plays one of the movie lecturers. Also, Stephen Merchant, the co-creator of The Office, plays the rich man at the door, and co-director Matt Robinson cameos as the TV interviewer and the nerdy guy in glasses in the crowd outside Mark’s (Gervais) apartment.
9. THE ORIGINAL OPENING WAS CUT.
In the wordless sequence, narrated by Patrick Stewart, Mark’s caveman ancestor learns how to lie and then imagines what could have been if it had never happened.
10. AFTER CASTING LOUIS C.K. IN THIS FILM, GERVAIS WOULD APPEAR ON C.K.’S SHOW.
Gervais played the doctor in two episodes of Louie’s first season.
11. THEY SHOT THE MOVIE IN NEW ENGLAND.
The unnamed town in the movie is primarily Lowell, Massachusetts.
12. JENNIFER GARNER AND RICKY GERVAIS HAD WORKED TOGETHER BEFORE.
Garner was cast because Gervais previously appeared on Alias.
13. PIZZA HUT DIDN’T WANT TO BE IN THE MOVIE.
The pizza chain initially tried to bar the filmmakers from including its logo on Mark’s new Ten Commandments, but the filmmakers were able to include it due to satire laws.
14. THE CHAPEL IN THE FINAL SCENE IS A LANDMARK IN SUDBURY, MASSACHUSETTS.
The Martha Mary Chapel was built by car magnate Henry Ford.
15. A PROMO CONTEST FOR THE FILM ASKED PEOPLE TO SUBMIT “HONEST” MOVIE POSTERS.
Gervais selected a submission mocking the Twilight saga as the winner.