Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How a struggling screenwriter lands Ricky Gervais

This is going to be one of those posts that unrealistically raises the hopes of every newbie out there, but I came across this very interesting interview with Matthew Robinson, the co-writer and co-director of The Invention of Lying, starring his writing and directing collaborator, Ricky Gervais (The Office, Extras).

Usually you see collaborations like this emerge from a long history between the partners. Maybe they've worked together for a while, or they've been friends, or have just collaborated on a project or two. That's not how these two got together though... I'll just let Matthew explain how he hit the proverbial lottery.

ComingSoon.net: I guess the question everyone will ask you is how you first met Ricky? This is your first time working with him and you're co-directing and co-writing so how did you first get involved with this?

Matthew Robinson: Well, I was just a massive Ricky Gervais fan. I wrote a script, never in my wildest dreams thought it would get to Ricky. Producer Lynda Obst went to England to work on something she was doing there and set up a general meeting with him, and he said straight up, "I only want to do things that I wrote." Gets there and she was a very good champion of me and she kept pushing the script. Finally they started talking about the premise behind it at dinner, spent the entire dinner talking about the premise. He went home and read I think the first 20 pages and called me personally on my cell phone, pretty much attached on the spot.

I was just a struggling L.A. screenwriter with a huge love for comedy and for Ricky Gervais in particular, and wrote a script for fun with him in mind with the highest aspirations of maybe using it as a sample to get more work. It happened to get into his hands through the sheer will of Lynda Obst and it just sort of snowballed out of control from there.

Granted, it helps when the guy has the attention of a player like Lynda Obst. I don't know the history of how that happened, but IMDBpro lists Robinson's manager as Oliver Obst of Underground Films and Management, so let's just assume that relationship helped. Still, The Invention of Lying is Robinson's first credit on IMDB, and it's quite a big deal for a self-proclaimed "struggling L.A. screenwriter."

Here's the trailer:

The rest of the interview is good too, so check it out. And who doesn't love Ricky Gervais?


  1. Heya, just want to let you know I have featured you on my monthly blog round up. Check it out :) http://kidinthefrontrow.blogspot.com

  2. Great post, bitter script reader,

    HUGE Lynda Obst fan. Tried several times to get her, or her assistant to read several of my romantic comedies. Got nowhere with that. Lynda has the COOLEST assistant EVER. Her name is Rachel Ababarell (I porobably misspelled her last name, but it's something like that). One of the sweetest girls I've ever met. Met her an Screenwriting Expo pitchfest three years ago. IF you ever get a chance to hangout with Rachel do it.

    Wasn't really looking forward to this movie, untill watching the trailer you so kindly provided access too. The concept just didn't grab me. But my-o-my what Matthew Robinson did with that concept sounds GREAT. Hope the movie a big hit for him, Lynda, and Lynda's son Olly. And thanks again for the great post.

    - E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

  3. I'm actually surprised he'd think he couldn't get it in front of Ricky because Obst is a bit of a legend in town (albeit not nearly as big as she used to be). Would be interesting to hear how he met her (if that led to his relationship with Oliver or his relationship with Oliver led to Lynda).

  4. He wrote the script, everyone in town went nuts for it, there might've even been a bidding war. It got to Obst, and she got it to Ricky. The point is, the script was written. Then when Ricky got involved, he had to have his rewrite, but he was generous enough to include Matt in the whole process. A crazy story.