Ricky Gervais jokes about Jeffrey Epstein and targets ‘woke’ A-listers at Golden Globes

6 January 2020, 10:18 | Updated: 6 January 2020, 10:37

British stars enjoyed a barnstorming night in Hollywood at the 77th Golden Globes in LA - with awards for Olivia Colman, Phoebe Waller Bridge and Taron Egerton, while host Ricky Gervais stole the show targeting A-listers with a string of cutting gags.

Gervais warned stars against using acceptance speeches for political grandstanding, but the actors spoke out nonetheless on the Australian bushfire crisis, the importance of voting and abortion rights.

Gervais had promised this fifth time hosting would be his last – and took aim at the usual Hollywood hypocrisies, joking about everything from the college admissions scandal (‘I came here in a limo tonight and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman’) to Jeffrey Epstein (‘[Afterlife] is a show about a man who wants to kill himself because his wife died of cancer and it's still more fun than this. Spoiler alert, season two is on the way so he didn't kill himself...just like Jeffrey Epstein. I know he's your friend, I don't care.’) 

The Globes are seen as a barometer of the big films that could scoop awards at the Oscars – and despite its late release date, it would appear this year’s frontrunner will be Sir Sam Mendes’ war epic 1917.

Filmed as one continuous shot, it’s been winning plaudits for its technical accomplishments and last night was honoured with two of the night’s top prizes – Best Director and Best Motion Picture (Drama). Mendes, who was made a Sir in last week’s New Year’s Honours, said he hopes the success will mean more people see the film on the big screen as it was intended.

Ricky Gervais and partner Jane Fallon on the red carpet
Ricky Gervais and partner Jane Fallon on the red carpet. Picture: PA

Other big British winners included Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who picked up Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Music or Comedy) for Fleabag, which also won Best Comedy Series. She paid tribute to her co-star Andrew ‘Hot Priest’ Scott, saying he could have chemistry ‘with a pebble’. Taron Egerton won Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) for his role as Sir Elton John in last year’s biopic Rocketman, while Brian Cox and Jesse Armstrong won for their work on TV drama Succession.

 A year on from her huge awards success for The Favourite – Olivia Colman charmed Hollywood again with another typically self-deprecating acceptance speech; this time for her role as the Queen in Netflix’s The Crown. She told the audience ‘for the last year I feel like I’ve been living someone else’s life, and now I feel like I’ve won someone else’s award’. 

Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor in a film drama for Joker, while Renee Zellweger won the female equivalent for playing Judy Garland in Judy; 16 years after her last Golden Globe win. She thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for ‘inviting me back to the family reunion’.

Snubs and surprises included the juggernaut of Frozen 2 missing out in the Best Animated Film category in favour of Missing Link. The Netflix pairing of Marriage Story and Scorsese’s The Irishman also did far less well than expected, with only one award (Best Supporting Actress for Marriage Story’s Laura Dern) from its eleven nominations. 

The award season focus moves to the UK tomorrow – with the BAFTA nomination announcements due early Tuesday morning.

Ricky’s gags at the Golden Globes

Ricky Gervais warned stars about politicising their awards in their acceptance speeches. ‘You're in no position to the public about anything,’ he said.

“You say you're woke but the companies you work for in China — unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you'd call your agent, wouldn't you?”

Gervais said it was a "big year for paedophile movies", mentioning Surviving R Kelly and Leaving Neverland, before adding "The Two Popes".

He then moved onto Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood but complained it was too long. "Leonardo DiCaprio attended the premiere and by the end, his date was too old for him," Gervais joked.

"Even Prince Andrew is like, 'come on Leo mate, you're nearly 50, son,” he added.

Gervais then turned his fire onto the box office bomb Cats, saying: "The world got to see James Corden as a fat pussy. He was also in the movie cats, but no one saw that."

The comedian then made a lewd joke about Corden's Cats co-star Dame Judi Dench.

She defended the film, Gervais said, because "it was the role she was born to play".

"I can't do this one," Gervais sniggered, before delivering the punchline.

"Because she loves nothing better than plonking herself down on the carpet... and licking her own minge."

He then made a gagging sound, adding "fur balls".

He also targeted billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. He said: “[Netflix series Afterlife] is a show about a man who wants to kill himself .... Spoiler alert, season two is on the way so he didn't kill himself...just like Jeffrey Epstein.”

He followed it up with: “Shut up. I know he's your friend, but I don't care.”