Rus­sell’s very own brand of hu­mour

Rus­sell Brand is the lat­est Bri­tish ex­port to take Amer­ica by storm with his own unique brand of of­fence and ban­ter. He spoke to film critic Tony Earn­shaw.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

“I’VE been plunged into wa­ter for seven hours. I’ve had to hang off a build­ing on a wire, had to mimic hav­ing bro­ken bones and been cov­ered in vomit. I’ve been in sex­u­ally com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tions, and I’ve had to take all man­ner of ‘nar­cotics’. I’ve per­formed live rock ’n’ roll. I’ve recorded an al­bum...”

Rus­sell Brand is liv­ing the dream. He’s made (or is mak­ing) ten movies in­clud­ing new projects with Oliver Stone and Julie Tay­mor, for whom he will play Trin­culo in a film ver­sion of The Tem­pest, head­lin­ing Helen Mir­ren as a fe­male Pros­pera.

Like Ricky Ger­vais, Brand has been taken up by the Amer­i­cans, who seem to en­joy his vari­a­tion on the hir­sute he­do­nist on dis­play on TV screens and on film – or on the air­waves via the in­ter­net.

It’s only two years ago that he played deca­dent rock idol Al­dous Snow in For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall. Now he’s back as the star of his own flick, work­ing in part­ner­ship with ro­tund ac­tor/writer Jonah ( Su­per­bad) Hill as the record com­pany exec who has to de­liver said rocker to a come­back gig.

Next up is a re­make of Arthur with 6ft 1ins Brand in the ti­tle role once in­hab­ited by 5ft 2½ins “sex thim­ble” Dud­ley Moore. He’s go­ing to part­ner with Adam San­dler (again) in a new pic­ture af­ter their col­lab­o­ra­tion on Bed­time Sto­ries. It’s all hap­pen­ing...

Not bad for an Es­sex boy who was ex­pelled from drama school for drink and drug abuse and who fa­mously re­signed from the BBC af­ter an ob­scene phone stunt with Jonathan Ross that went spec­tac­u­larly awry.

If, like Ger­vais, Brand is an acquired taste, then the Amer­i­cans are fall­ing over them­selves to work with him.

Jonah Hill “was dy­ing to work with Rus­sell again” af­ter For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall and Brand him­self re­alised there was the chance to do a spin-off when writer/di­rec­tor Nick Stoller pulled him to one side and asked whether he might care to do a sub­se­quent film with Jonah Hill based on their good chem­istry to­gether.

On board as pro­ducer was Judd Apa­tow, the golden goose be­hind The 40 Year Old Vir­gin and Knocked Up.

“It’s very flat­ter­ing that Al­dous Snow’s been given life be­yond the ini­tial joy of play­ing him in For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall,” muses Brand. “I think the rea­sons that char­ac­ter res­onated, at least with Nick and Judd, is that in this celebri­ty­ob­sessed age, Al­dous was an un­usual take on celebrity. He’s not just a straight­for­ward ob­nox­ious twerp; al­though he is an ob­nox­ious twerp, there is sort of a sweet­ness and vul­ner­a­bil­ity to his self­de­struc­tion and self­en­ti­tle­ment.”

At 35, Brand has en­dured more than his share of self­de­struc­tion. He’s a re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic and a drug ad­dict, hav­ing abused ev­ery­thing from cannabis and LSD to co­caine and heroin. He’s been ar­rested 11 times.

Now he at­tends AA and NA meet­ings as well as act­ing as a pa­tron for anti-drug char­ity Fo­cus 12. All of this, one as­sumes, lends cre­dence to the cre­ation of a char­ac­ter he de­scribes as “a big, sexy lizard-man”.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to play a rock star,” he says. “It’s more ex­cit­ing than what I do, be­ing a stand-up co­me­dian, so it’s a real step up the lad­der for me.

“Rock stars rep­re­sent anti­estab­lish­ment, which is al­ways ap­peal­ing. Also, rock stars are sexy, and we all want to be sex­ier.

“It was bril­liant fun,” he adds. “I re­ally en­joyed the per­for­mances enor­mously. It’s lovely, liv­ing out your child­hood fan­tasies to be a rock star.

“All the times I pre­tended to be a rock star, with a hair­brush and ten­nis rac­quet… I got to live out those fan­tasies in front of thou­sands of peo­ple.

“[From now on] I’d like peo­ple to treat me like one! I want a heli­copter, lots of ‘ Yes men’, a great deal of re­spect, a pet chimp, to be ‘sick and fancy’ by the bucket load and have ev­ery dream met.

“The truth is that it was quite good fun to imag­ine be­ing a rock star for a while, but I don’t think I could re­ally do it.”

MOVER AND SHAKER: Rus­sell Brand with co-star Jonah Hill, above, and per­form­ing on stage, right, as rock star Al­dous Snow in his lat­est movie GetHim­totheGreek.

OFF THE AIR: Rus­sell Brand an­nounc­ing his res­ig­na­tion from his Ra­dio 2 show in Oc­to­ber 2008 af­ter the in­fa­mous phone prank.

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