Comedian Ricky Gervais has won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for playing not-so-serious characters in not-so-serious television shows and movies. But when it comes to animals, Gervais isn’t joking around. In a recent interview, the British actor – who can next be seen in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (in theaters May 22) – told PEOPLE his dream is to open an animal sanctuary. “I love animals and am very interested in preservation of wildlife,” he shares. “I’ve never understood animal cruelty.”

Though he earns plenty of money his appearances, Gervais says he gives large portions of his profits away. “Whenever I do warm-up gigs I give to cancer charities and animal charities.”

So what makes the star laugh? “I laugh more than I make people laugh. My cat makes me laugh. I’m smiling all the time,” says Gervais.

Read more about Gervais’s new film and his pet peeves in the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands now!

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