Earlier that month, Rowling sparked outrage when she expressed support for Maya Forstater, a British woman who lost her job after using discriminatory language against transgender people on social media. Gervais then tweeted some eyebrow-raising commiseration with a satirical Dec. 19 article about the “Harry Potter” author’s debacle.
Later, he added:
Both tweets came under fire, with some people calling for Gervais to step down as host of the Golden Globes ahead of the Jan. 5 ceremony.
“You can say, ‘Listen, I was joking. It’s a joke.’ But that’s not always enough for people,” he said. “They go, ‘Well, why were you joking?’ Also, add to that the nature of Twitter — it’s so curt, there’s no nuance, it’s there forever out of context.”
“Deep down, I want people to know I’m not a racist or a homophobe or a sexist,” he added.
Gervais has faced accusations of transphobia in the past. At the 2016 Golden Globes, his opening monologue included jabs at Caitlyn Jenner, who had come out publicly as a transgender woman the previous year.
In this week’s Hollywood Reporter interview, the comedian said that the offending jokes had been aimed at Jenner’s driving skills ― she had been involved in a deadly car crash the previous year ― rather than her gender identity.
“The joke was about stereotypes,” he said. “I started off being correctly inclusive, saying she’s brave breaking down barriers. And then I [said] she didn’t do a lot for women drivers.”
He went on to suggest that his jokes would be primarily Hollywood-focused at this year’s ceremony.
“I’d go after cinema and I’d go after television and I’d go after actors and I’ll go after pretension and hypocrisy,” he said.