Stephen Merchant: No Falling Out With Gervais

Co-creator of 'The Office' tries to tamp down the rumors
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2022 8:04 AM CDT
Ricky Gervais' Office Co-Creator: There's No Rift
Stephen Merchant arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Jojo Rabbit" at the Hollywood American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Stephen Merchant famously created The Office with Ricky Gervais more than 20 years ago, but the pair haven't worked together in a decade. Now, as the 47-year-old Merchant is making the media rounds to plug his new show The Outlaws (on Amazon Prime), the topic of his relationship with Gervais keeps coming up. In an interview with the Daily Beast, Merchant says he's aware of the rumors the duo had a falling out and attempts to put them to rest. "I get on perfectly well with Ricky," he says, adding that that two simply started pursuing different projects professionally. "We just sort of drifted apart creatively really, but we certainly never had any big falling out or big argument or anything like that."

A few years ago, headlines along the lines of "Stephen Merchant takes a swipe at Ricky Gervais" (as in the Sun) circulated because of a Merchant tweet. In answering a question about types of movie cliches, he wrote, "Watching old home movies of dead child/wife = inability to move on." Something like that had just happened in Gervais' show After Life, and people read it as a sly dig. Nope, says Merchant, who adds that it came to mind because he had just watched Minority Report (in which Tom Cruise's character keeps watching old images of his late wife). "I mean, why on earth would I arbitrarily decide to have an esoteric jab at Ricky?"

As for his new show, one that co-stars Christopher Walken, it's getting solid reviews. In talking about it with the New York Times, the inevitable Gervais question came up, though in a different fashion. Merchant was asked whether a particular character, one who voices "anti-woke" views, was modeled on his former creative partner. "Oh, no, no, no," Merchant responds. "Ricky never came into my thoughts because Ricky approaches things with a comic’s energy and a comedian’s mind." (The show has made headlines because of a link to Banksy.)

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