Pop Culture

Ricky Gervais: 'People are surprised that I'm nice'

Funnyman Ricky Gervais has a new series on the way, but unlike his past efforts, including "Extras" and the original version of "The Office," the big laughs won't come courtesy of characters viewers love to hate.

In "Derek," Gervais is playing it nice, and he isn't even worried about getting those big laughs.

"It's not an out-and-out comedy," he explained during a Tuesday morning visit to TODAY. "It's sort of sweet. There's dramatic moments — I mean, it's still a sitcom, but it's a sort of show about kindness."

And Gervais is no stranger to kindness.

"People are surprised that I'm nice, which is an insult," he said with a laugh. "I always knew I was nice."

Those who doubted it will see Gervais' sunny side on display in the seven-episode series, in which he plays the "flawed, a bit scruffy, not too bright" title character who works in a home for the elderly.

"Most of my family growing up were care workers," he said. "They worked in old people's homes, some for Alzheimer's. I've got 30 years' worth of stories. I always try to write about what I know. I worked in an office for 10 years and I wrote a sitcom about it. 'Extras' was about my life in showbiz. ... I think something resonates more if it's something realistic and from the heart."

Fans will have a chance to see Gervais' latest from-the-heart effort starting Thursday on Netflix.