Ricky Gervais called during the 11 a.m. opening day screening of “Grindhouse.” Said he loved the script, wanted to make the movie, asked how soon could we meet to get everything started?
Pacing around the movie theater lobby on his cell phone while “Grindhouse” blared away inside, Matthew Robinson thought for sure he was being punked. Yeah, he knew his script for a high-concept comedy about a world in which lying does not exist had gotten into Gervais’ hands, but this just didn’t happen in Hollywood. Sounded like a “Twilight Zone” episode, which was how he came up with the script idea anyway. Yet two weeks later he was sitting with his comedy hero rewriting the script and on September 25th, two and a half years after that first phone call, “The Invention of Lying” will arrive in theaters.
“It’s very possible I’m actually in a mental institution and this is all a figment of my imagination,” Robinson, who had been a struggling screenwriter in LA for ten years, told MTV News.
How else to explain that he and Gervais also ended up co-directing the film, that Gervais took on the starring role and that rounding out the cast are Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman and Louis C.K.? The story follows Gervais through an alternate reality in which everyone always tells the truth—until he strikes upon a wild invention: the lie. Gervais and Robinson initially drew up a wish list of dream directors—Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry—but then the British comedian got nervous.
Robinson explained, “He said, ’I’m scared to give this to anybody. It’s such an amazing script and such a good idea I don’t anyone to mess it up.’ But then he was like, ’I don’t want to direct it myself because I’ve never done a feature. I can’t sleep at night knowing I ruined this script.'”
It was a script that re-imagined things big and small in a world of brutal honesty. There’s a Pepsi bus advertisement that Robinson revealed carries the slogan, “Pepsi: When they don’t have Coke.” And then there’s the truly controversial material.
“It’s not in the trailer and it’s a huge part of the film, but [Gervais] stumbles upon inventing something that in a world without lying wouldn’t exist, which is probably going to piss a lot of people off.”
I’ll leave it to you to take some guesses what Robinson is hinting at. You can also look forward to cameos from two Oscar winners who are not at all known for their comedic chops but who Robinson promises are hilarious. He also declared that the film’s true breakout star will be Garner.
“People are going to be really surprised,” he said. “That’s going to be the talk of the film—how funny she is. She was beating Ricky up comedically in some scenes. She came with the heat everyday.”