Ricky Gervais talks about ‘Invention of Lying’ atheist subplot

I haven’t put much effort on the podcast into hiding the fact that I thought The Invention of Lying was a bore of a flick despite a pretty amusing anti-religion side plot: one of the lies the main character tells is that everyone goes somewhere awesome after death, which then led to lies about God, rules, and all that jazz. Hilarity ensues (or so I thought it would).

I’ve heard many atheists enjoyed the movie off the strength of this part alone, so if you’re stuck on a weekend with nothing better to watch, go for it! For now though here’s part of an interview with the movie’s writer/producer/director/star and of course atheist scum Ricky Gervais talking about the religious backlash the movie received:

There’s a boldness and strength of idea underpinning The Invention Of Lying that you don’t seem to get in the vast majority of Hollywood comedies. Do you think that’s why the film struggled to find an audience in America?

Well, I think everything has to fight hard to get an audience in America.

I think the reason why critics and websites didn’t like it was obviously the religious element. I think some people felt cheated that they weren’t warned. But I don’t know what you do with that. Whether I should put a warning ‘contains atheist material’. I don’t know. Strange, really.

One reviewer said that ‘I don’t know why Ricky Gervais feels the need to shove his atheism down our throat’. I thought, woah, well this is one film that dares to presume the lack of God, whereas every other film I’ve ever seen presumes a God. There are door-to-door Bible salesmen. It’s taught in schools as fact. Children are indoctrinated with it from the age of four. And I’m the one shoving the ideas! Surely, we can have a discussion about it?

It seems a little bit unfair. And I don’t think it is atheist propaganda, in a world where no one has ever had the ability to lie, as an atheist, to suggest I believe that religion was started by man. And I put that in a film. I’d be a hypocrite to say anything else.

Did you sense that reaction was going to come?

I did. But I didn’t think that intelligent people would be so worried about it.

I tell you why I think that the film is actually more subversive than most other films. It’s because it was couched in quite a sweet Hollywood rom-com. It wasn’t a dark indie film that was a terrible existential damning sort of film. It was a really sweet, uplifting Hollywood rom-com. It just happened to be a film where there was no God.

I’d still put the main blame on unlikable characters and the underdevelopment of the ‘society where no one can lie’ concept. Plus I think the movie was buried by the studio as well, but who knows if that was because of the religious nose tweaking or because it was just kinda weak. But Gervais has some solid points: Who’s shoving what down who’s throat, exactly? And why are religious people so sensitive that a single movie with an atheistic aspect is considered so shove-tastic?

Comments (11)

  • avatar


    I enjoyed the movie. Eat a dick “The Good Atheist”!

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    Ryan Harkness

    Jeez it’s like you can’t say you didn’t like a movie (but still recommend people watch it) without getting propositioned with penises!

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    Any movie that’s as atheistic as “The Invention of Lying” get’s extra points from me, even if objectively it’s just average.

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    Kevin O'Leary

    Although a big fan of Ricky, I’m still waiting to see this film. I think his more freeform approach to comedy in his stand-up routines and podcasts are generally funnier than his TV and film work though. Checkout this clip of his musings on the bible from Animals;


  • avatar


    The movie was good as a ROM-COM goes. I never expect a whole lot from that type of movie. The atheistic side plot however makes it a much better movie. Yes they could could have done better with the character development and gone into more detail about this world where no one ever lied or thought of it before now.

    In the end I liked the movie. Will “The Invention of Lying” make my top 25 all-time list? No, but is well worth the watch.

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    Invention of lying – Forcing your beliefs on others and belittling their own, how dare you make this!

    Book of Eli – How dare you criticise a film with religion in it, we’re free to make these films and you’re free to not watch them!

    Examples of what I’ve read based on these 2 films, as atheists we can’t do anything right can we?

  • avatar


    This movie was great! Mel Gibson can make some really Christian movie and gets rave reviews so it’s great that finally there’s a movie that shows that the greatest lie ever told was religion!

    We’re surrounded with religious freaks everyday. It’s refreshing to see the opposite and know others aren’t delirious.

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    The greatest lie was religion? thanks for the insight. Christ was a real person, not a religion.

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    Thought Criminal

    It never ceases to amaze me that people get so scared and angry when a movie might suggest there is no god in the story. but they have no problem what so ever about a movie having nothing to do with god in the story, so they assume he is there anyway, yet it shows 4 seconds of boobies & has 20 F words. cheers Mr. Gervais!

  • avatar


    It’s “whoa” not “woah.”

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