RUS­SELL BRAND

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Q & A - In­ter­view by NI­CHOLAS FON­SECA

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.

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