Most Youtube searches of “Russell Brand” first and foremost bring up clips of you eviscerating interviewers. Be honest: do you dread questions from journalists? I love talking to people, but I’m the antithesis of confrontational. If I have had interviews that turned confrontational, it’s because I’m obsessed with thinking about the truth. I’m obsessed with thinking about integrity – mostly my own, but also other people’s. The topic of your new book Recovery is addiction. In it, you give a Russell Brand spin on the 12-step program. Why did you write it? I’ve been sober for [nearly 15] years, and over that time I’ve noticed its efficacy in every area of addiction: drugs, relationships, sex, work, food. The longer I’ve been cleaner, the more I’ve noticed that [what] we call “addiction” is merely “attachment”; consumerism and materialism are just social formulas of addiction. So are those two things humanity’s worst addiction? There’s this obsession we have, where we believe we can make ourselves feel better by getting stuff. And it leads to ecological destruction, economic inequality and misery on a social, familial, personal and global level. You’ve stepped away from Hollywood over the past few years. Was that a conscious decision? Conscious and unconscious. I moved to England, for one thing. I stopped thinking about that kind of stuff as much. It was not a deliberate: “F*ck this – who wants to be a Hollywood star?” But it did come off the back of a period of not being fulfilled. Does this mean no more hosting awards shows or headlining film remakes? It’s not that I’ll never act again. I met really lovely people over there. I’m still friends with a lot of them. So it’s not as simple as saying, “I don’t believe in it.” But more than ever before, I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing next. I’m not spending all my time in homeless shelters helping people, or gathering up street junk, if I’m being honest. You got married [to second wife Laura Gallacher] in late August, and your daughter with her, Mabel, turns one in November. What’s Mabel doing lately that you just love? She grabs my face, closes her fist and twists it. I quite like that. Nothing she does annoys me, it’s just that you can’t ever go, “Would you mind being on standby for an hour so I can do something else?” It’s a total lack of control: she’ll punch and I’ll surrender. Were you a fan of kids before Mabel came along? Yes, I’ve always loved being around kids; sort of obsessively, really. I have strong relationships with all my mates’ kids – if I go to their house
“I’m not saying I don’t care what other people think of me. But you become an obsequious twit if you spend all your time trying to manipulate people into liking you”
“I love being around kids – they just put on stupid voices and muck around”
I sometimes spend more time with them. Because I enjoy play quite a lot – and kids are willing to just put on stupid voices and muck around. You once dismissed the idea of voting, but earlier this year you endorsed Labour in the British election. Would you ever run for office yourself? No. Because I’ve talked to a lot of people who really know about this stuff – people like Al Gore and [former Greek finance minister] Yanis Varoufakis – and what was always a suspicion, and what I now feel I’ve confirmed, is systems of power do not give any real authority to people who occupy positions within them. At one point in Recovery you write that “the image people hold of me in their heads is no concern of mine”. But you act, write and tour. Doesn’t that require people to like you? If you think someone doesn’t like you, it’s unsettling. I’m not saying I don’t care what other people think of me. But to spend all your time trying to influence and manipulate people into liking you… you become a bit of an ingratiating and obsequious twit if you like your life like that. So how did you “find yourself”, so to speak, in the chaos of celebrity? Well, I’ve been doing this a long time. So I sort of feel less beholden to it. I don’t expect being famous to make me feel any better. Celebrity is a red herring, though it can be very exciting. I’ve kind of outgrown it, though I’m not pretending I don’t get caught up in it! I want my book to do well, because I believe in it. But I can’t make the book do well. My life’s not defined by that anymore. It’s defined by my wife, daughter, dog and other relationships. That said, the early marketing for your book trumpets the number of followers you have across social media. Are you OK with this irony? Yeah, because it’s not my job. If I set myself the objective of total perfection beyond the realm of my individual choices, I don’t think I’d be able to get off the sofa. Recovery (Pan Macmillan, $32.99) is out on Wednesday.