Stephen Merchant on his career 22 years after success of The Office: ‘There’s always expectation’
Stephen Merchant has reflected on his career two decades on from The Office as he admitted he’d love to make the BBC series for the first time again.
The 48-year-old found fame with the workplace mockumentary sitcom, which he wrote and directed with long-time collaborator Ricky Gervais, 61, back in 2001.
The British star even appeared in several episodes playing, Oggy aka The Oggmonster, a close friend of character Gareth Keenan (Mackenzie Crook).
Now 22 years on, Merchant told The Standard that he’d love to go back in time when “there were no expectations” on anything he put his name to and experience making the series all over again.
He shared: “The unique thing about The Office was that no one knew who we were so there were no expectations, we just did it in this quiet part of the BBC.
“There’s something about that, you’re not trying to amuse anyone but yourself. You’re not thinking about the newspapers or anything about the audience, you’re just thinking that ‘this is fun, let’s get it made’.
“It’s hard to get back to that moment. Now there’s always that expectation.”
Following the success of The Office, Merchant and Gervais helped on the US adaptation of the BBC series as well as Extras, Life’s Too Short, An Idiot Abroad and The Ricky Gervais Show.
So, can fans expect to see the pair collaborate once again? “Absolutely” – if the right project came along that is.
He added: “I think if the right project comes along then absolutely.
“I’m not sure what two ageing white blokes can come up with together but if the right idea came along then definitely.”
Merchant spoke to The Standard at the Royal Television Society Awards, where he was nominated for his turn in ITV’s Four Lives, the shocking true-crime drama about the victims of serial killer Stephen Port and how their families foreground the police’s failings.
He portrayed Port in the harrowing retelling of the murders, a departure from the usual comedic roles fans have come to know him for.
While getting into the mind of the murderer was no mean feat, the actor admitted he was able “shake off” playing Port easier than his haircut for the shoot.
He added: “It didn’t take long to shake off the character; it took a long time to shake off the haircut because they shaved my hair.
“So I had hair on the sides and bald on the top. I wore a lot of hats for a while.”