Photograph: Nick Ballon for the Guardian Russell Brand: This charming man He's the arch seducer who is settling down; the BBC renegade who is hot property in Hollywood. Everyone loves Russell Brand – but not half as much as he loves himself
5th June 2010
Russell Brand stalks into a Manhattan hotel room, sharp-elbowed, bent-kneed, staring wildly through the windows of the 37th floor. He looks like Jack Frost and sounds – "Going for the hip-hop look?" – like someone's sarcastic older brother. I glance down. Above the waistband of my jeans something has, indeed, gone horribly awry.
"Two inches of visible pants!" Brand looks delighted. "But aren't you nice and slim! You don't look like a person who's – I mean, you're not tortured by that, are you? It's not like you starve yourself?" Er, no. "Nice work."
Here it is, Brand's stock in trade, the casual delivery of absurd or obnoxious statements, and it gets excellent results. The 35-year-old has enormous faith in his power to win over people, which is just as well, since he spent most of his 20s aggravating, in minor but persistent ways, the police, his employers and every woman he ever dated. Quite how a former heroin addict who kept keys to an ex-girlfriend's flat so he could let himself in to steal from her – who in public at least always talks in italics – can come off as guileless is a mystery, but he does.
You wonder what he is like in the off hours. Today, however, he is very much on, promoting Get Him To The Greek, a sequel to the 2008 hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall in which he played laconic British rock star Aldous Snow. Produced by Judd Apatow and co-starring Sean "P Diddy" Combs and Jonah Hill, the film is so full of Brandisms – those long strings of mock-serious locutions – that he might have asked for a writing credit. No, he says, "Given the opportunities these people have afforded me and the platform they've given me, that would be rather unchivalrous." Brand can afford to be generous. Engaged to pop star Katy Perry, free of his addictions and with several more Hollywood films in the pipeline, there's a sense of him teetering on the edge of the really big time, although what the Americans see when they look at Brand is hard to work out. Actually, he says, it isn't. "Americans: what are their assumptions about people from the United Kingdom? Probably they're informed by Monty Python, rock'n'roll and Victorian England. If you have those things about your character, they'll go, all right, I know what this is." He dips his head and gives me the look that says, how can you resist someone as quiveringly self-aware, as attuned to the mechanisms of his own irresistibility, as I, Russell Brand, am?
Of course, in among the comic verbosity and finely tuned bathos, Brand talks a lot of shit. In lesser hands what he does would be pretentious student comedy. When he was a presenter on MTV, he tried to break through the wall of meaningless white noise by coming in on cue with total absurdities. "Derrida! Kettle-Russell!" he would say in lieu of "welcome back after the break". Or "Baudelaire! Pipe-cleaner Russell!" ("I'd try," he explains, "to say one thing that was cerebral and one thing that was just stupid.")
As a child, he observed among his peers a group he characterised as "nan-kids" – children brought up wholly or in part by grandparents with vocab idiosyncrasies from two generations above, and has taken inspiration from their linguistic style. "Twit", he says, and "balderdash" and "nincompoop". His memoir, My Booky Wook – the title comes from A Clockwork Orange and has the same disruptive effect as trashing the MTV script – is a combination of fine comic schtick (in the US edition, he explains to American readers that what is known in England as a Waltzer is a "tilt-a-whirl" in the US, which sounds "like a nonconsensual, diagonal sex attack") and straightforwardly good writing: Oxford Street with its "perpetual glum buzz"; his father's "cheap charisma".
The most irksome part of his act is the babytalk, used to flatter and throw into relief all that intellect, and there is a question of how much the comedy plays on snobbish reactions to a guy with long hair and Essex vowels name-dropping philosophers.
Brand is a partial nan-kid. His mother suffered recurring bouts of cancer when he was growing up and he was farmed out to relatives in Essex, the nan he loved and the nan he didn't, and his absent father, who was half-useless, half-inspiring. "My dad is from an estate in Dagenham, but wholeheartedly believes you can do what you want if you work hard enough. If you refuse to give up. So I got that. That message was loud for me."
When Brand's father was flush, he was sent to private school, then the cash ran out and he went back to a comprehensive. The most useful part of his education, he says, came from obsessively watching TV comedies. He has huge bits of script still by memory: "I do have a regard for the musicality of language that came from BBC sitcoms like Fawlty Towers. 'Your glasses are there, Mrs Richards! You can see the sea, it's there between the land and the sky – you'd need a telescope to see that – well, then may I suggest that you move to a hotel closer to the sea, or preferably in it!' "
It was his role as Fat Sam in a student production of Bugsy Malone that convinced him to apply to Italia Conti, that "famous school for unbearable brats" as he calls it, from which he was later expelled for drug use. His mother was always being called to the school for one crime or another, so that, he writes, "even now when I do something wrong – if I say something inappropriate on a live TV show, for example – I half expect to have to deliver a note to Barbara Brand: 'Please come up to Channel 4 head office, Russell's done something despicable.' "
Brand conveys all this with the talent he has for putting himself outside his own experience, as if he is, to some extent, an innocent bystander to his own histrionics. From the beginning he cultivated a style based on the idea he would one day be famous – that these would be stories to enliven a memoir. "I don't know if this is the kind of retrospective analysis that people are fond of applying to their work or actions, but it feels like I knew I was going to be famous and I knew that an element of that would be traumatic, so that if I could make myself something big and otherworldly, it would be a kind of defence. That I would have a degree of safety."
When Brand was 17, his father took him on a sex tourism holiday to the far east – unorthodox parenting that was, he says, actually quite helpful. If there are roots to his bad behaviour, particularly the incontinent sexuality that would see him checking into a sex-addiction clinic in America, it was something that happened a decade earlier. He was sent to a tutor who, he writes in the memoir, "when I got a question right – by way of congratulation – stuck his finger up my arse and felt my balls." He told his mum, who told his dad, who said "he'd deal with it. But he never did anything."
Now, says Brand, "People advised me to take that part out. The reason I left it in was because I thought, if in chapter four you see this happen, when in chapter 12 I'm rampaging round having it off with prostitutes, you might see a corollary. It might be less unsavoury. That was my hope."
At some point, while he's off on one of his soliloquies, I go momentarily offline and stare out of the window at rainy New York. Brand notices instantly and for the next few seconds leans urgently forward, punctuates everything he says with pats to my knee and uses my name a lot, until I have clicked back in. It's not aggressive or sexual, but the highly tuned, professional insecurity that drives successful performers.
His honesty is of course winning, and his self-deprecation – he describes himself as a "right arsehole" and his early life as "a trivial Greek tragedy" – one of his key appeals, although it doesn't exculpate him quite as much as he thinks it does. Fairness is important to Brand. He has just delivered the second volume of memoir (it is currently with the lawyers, he says heavily), in which he had to tread even more carefully because so many of the people in it are famous. "I've tried to think, well, how is that person going to feel when they read that? And there aren't many cases in which I think, 'I don't fucking care.'"
It is striking how protective of Jonathan Ross he is, in a brothers-in-arms sort of way and in contrast to his history of infidelity to women – despite the fact he goes on endlessly about his matriarchal upbringing, his close relationship to his mother and how women love him because he loves women. (Ha.) Anyway, he won't say anything that risks getting his friend into more trouble over Sachsgate and denies the perceived disparity in the fortunes of the two men since the scandal – Brand going from strength to strength, Ross still in the wilderness. It was Brand who seemed the more sensible, quitting the BBC instantly before he could be pushed and promptly leaving the country. He had more options than Ross, but also, one senses, a keener eye to his own interests.
In fact, Brand's ambition is the strongest force within him. It's what got him, ultimately, to quit drugs, although he is still charmed by his memories of the bad years. "I hear stories from people who remember better than I do how I was, and I sometimes think, 'Wow, this guy sounds amazing.' A pirate! A wildman! Romping around with no shirt on, drinking tequila from the bottle, causing chaos, cutting myself up! It adheres quite well to the clichés one hears of rock'n'roll characters and self-destructive poets."
Still, everything subordinates to his desire to get ahead, which comes, he says, partly from his dad, partly from some innate part of him and partly from growing up under Thatcher, when families such as his were encouraged to buy their council houses, climb up the ladder and "be selfish!" Is a small part of him grateful to Thatcher?
"No." He laughs. "Not one bit. I have no gratitude to Thatcher, nor to Cameron, neither. I've never voted, never will."
"Never. Coz I think, you're not blagging me on this ridiculous journey, with a bit of paper. I don't want to participate in this. I recognise the futility of it all. I think if you want to change things, it's not with an X on a piece of paper, it's with an X on someone's forehead. Ooooh, that's good."
Shouldn't you vote, then, for the least bad option?
"No, coz you're acknowledging the system. Look at the Lib Democrats. They're saying they want PR PR PR, and the first chance they get, they fuck off with the Tories. So no." There are moments when no amount of ironic window-dressing can overcome how seriously Brand takes himself.
This is most keenly in evidence when he talks about recovery. He is involved with David Lynch's foundation, which seeks to introduce transcendental meditation techniques into schools and refers to things like the "ocean of consciousness". Does he have a mantra?
"Everyone has their own mantra. They give it to you and you can't tell anyone what it is, ever."
Did he see that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm when someone stole Larry's mantra?
He looks fleetingly unamused. "I guess they perverted it for reasons of comedy." Abruptly he smiles. "I liked that episode a lot."
How does it work?
"You close your eyes and you think the mantra, think the mantra, your mind tries to drag you off, you go back to the mantra. You're right: anything that is pompous or serious invites ridicule. But this, to me, doesn't. Because apart from anything else, Lynch is fucking funny. Funny. I mean, obviously I'm aware of that drug addict recovery cliché. But this stuff is working for me. I'm into yoga, I meditate all the time, I'm vegetarian. The most serious thing in my life, I suppose, is my recovery."
And Katy Perry, with whom he is in the first monogamous relationship of his life. They got engaged at New Year. "It's lovely, actually. What I most enjoy is knowing that I'm trying my hardest, I'm really trying my best. It's rewarding for me to know that. There's no lying or tricking; it's a nice feeling."
Why doesn't he want to cheat on her, like he did on all the others?
"She's funny. She's really – I think what it is – and I don't want to rinse away the romance with some incredibly acute analysis, and I'm probably too befuddled and cockeyed with it all to even offer that – but: I'm quite able, I think, to seduce people. So usually I'd be like, right then, oh good, that person seems to be spellbound, I can get on with the rest of my day. But with her – I mean I love her, in a really pure way – she's a beautiful person, funny and gentle and sweet. But she's so demanding! You know that programme I Love Lucy? It's like that round my house. A lot of the time it's mental. Proper handful. It's very diverting. That woman can put on several voices that mean I have to stop what I'm doing."
I imagine her parents were nervous at the prospect of having him as a son-in-law? No, he says, and shows me a photo of them, which he has as a screensaver on his phone. "They're like refugees from the 60s. They're really spiritual, take their religion seriously, but also he did a lot of acid, her dad. He was born-again as a result of being almost on the point of vagrancy. Katy's mother went to Berkeley in San Francisco and went to a Doors gig and danced with Jimi Hendrix. They're not austerely judging me like Quakers. They really like me. Her dad gets me cute presents."
"A teddy bear, bearing the legend When Did My Wild Oats Turn To All Bran? You press its hand and it sings, 'When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now…'"
Brand is in a position at this stage to turn things down and it plays into the idea he has of himself as highly ethical. "I was offered loads of money for an advert recently, I really nearly done it, came so close. Then I thought, I ain't doing it. I sort of think it would be good, wouldn't it, to steer a straight path through this. The thing that's a little bit frightening, Emma, is to garner some kind of actual authority; this is why I'm not having any part of it and I'm giving it all back, like Buddha. Aaarrgh."
Finishing the second volume of his memoir has made him consider his life and the anticlimax of having got what he wanted. He is honest about this in a way celebrities rarely are, lest it sound like whining. Of fame, he says, "It's peculiar and confusing and surprisingly unsatisfying." The prospect of success in America thrills and dismays him. "I don't want to get all Jean Genet, but the people around me are from Essex, not LA. I still feel an affinity with these people. I'm not suggesting that Essex is some kind of Steinbeckian doss house. But it almost is."
There is only so much satisfaction Brand can get out of things. "In the words of Morrissey," he says, "I was bored before I even began."
And while I'm here, this is a half-hour interview with Russell on KCRW radio, last year.
Russell Brand heading for US airwaves British comedian Russell Brand has been offered a multi-million dollar deal to join American radio station Sirius.
29 Jun 2010
Russell Brand is being lined up to host his own radio show in America. Satellite station Sirius Radio broadcasts shows by some of the biggest names in the US, including controversial shock jock Howard Stern, Eminem and Jamie Foxx, and bosses are now keen to add Russell to the roster.
Sirius have reportedly offered the 'Get Him to the Greek' star a deal "worth millions of dollars" to hit the American airwaves. A source told The Sun newspaper: "Russell has been itching to get back on radio for a while now. He has been off doing other things but radio still really tickles him." The source continued "Russell's sidekick Matt Morgan is also keen to get writing and broadcasting again. The Sirius deal is in its infancy but Russell is well up for it. He has been given the hard sell about how they could make him the new Howard Stern."
Russell's last foray into radio ended in disgrace when he was forced to quit his popular show on major UK station BBC Radio 2. The 35-year-old star along with friend and fellow broadcaster Jonathan Ross faced a public backlash after they made lewd and rude phone calls to elderly comedy actor Andrew Sachs, which included telling him Russell had slept with his granddaughter Georgina Baillie.
However, there is a possibility the deal with Sirius could see him reunited with Jonathan. The source added: "He is desperate to do something with Jonathan Ross again."
Now that could be great, though I'm not sure how is local references and Victorian lingo will go down!
Russell Brand Held In Paparazzi Scuffle
September 18, 2010
Sky News Online
British comedian Russell Brand has been arrested in Los Angeles after a tussle with a photographer. The 35-year-old was held by police after he was involved in a scuffle with paparazzi at Los Angeles International Airport, California, on Friday.
Katy Perry's fiance had been "arrested for battery," said the entertainment news website RadarOnline. The TMZ site said Brand and Perry were going through security for a Delta airlines flight when there was a physical altercation, which led to one photographer making a citizen's arrest.
Police confirmed that Brand had been taken into custody for a misdemeanor charge of simple battery with bail set at $20,000 (£13,000).
Russell Brand: the womaniser and drug addict in me has died Gone are the shock tactics, the womanising, even the sleeping pills. An altogether more family-friendly Russell Brand talks Katy Perry, 'Arthur' and his changed ways
9 Apr 2011
Onto the set of Saturday Night Live stalks lanky Russell Brand, all teeth and hair and limbs, clean-shaven and big-jawed and tight-trousered. “Don’t be alarmed,” he tells the excitable, eager-to-whoop audience, “I’ve not come here to levy unreasonable taxes.” Then, pausing only to grin nervously, the 35-year-old comedian, writer and newly minted film star adds, “I’m much more famous in England.”
It’s eight o’clock on a February evening in New York. Britain’s newest international star is getting stuck into the dress rehearsal for the latest episode of America’s long-running television comedy institution. Every week the show has a guest celebrity host and this week it’s Brand’s turn.
“In the pursuit of success,” he will say later, “whatever trade you’re in, you’re always looking for recognisable landmarks. Yeah, right, I’ve been on the cover of Rolling Stone, I've been in The Simpsons, I've hosted Saturday Night Live.” This statement, it will transpire, is typical Brand: enumerating – bragging about – his own achievements, yet also managing to appear giddy with childlike chuffedness at his own good fortune rather than come over like an insufferable, blowhard ego-monster.
Analysing and dissecting this stuff is almost his stock-in-trade. Over the last year he’s been filming a documentary, The Big I Am. Like his two bestselling autobiographies, Booky Wook and Booky Wook 2, it explores fame, and his pursuit of love and experience of it.
Brand opens Saturday Night Live with a short stand-up routine. A veteran of “hundreds and hundreds” of comedy gigs in grotty pubs, insalubrious back rooms and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – as well as many hours of live television, hosting things like Big Brother’s Little Brother – this is his comfort zone. As he’s always done, this only child of a single-parent mother talks about himself, and he talks about his life.
But whereas previously his life in London was a carousel of drug and alcohol-crazed womanising – then, post-rehab, sober womanising – and self-made scandal, his new existence is very different. Now he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, American pop star Katy Perry. After eight years of sobriety, he practises yoga and Transcendental Meditation. Such is his new-found Hollywood “clout”, he has films made around his character (Get Him To The Greek), is able to have other films greenlit (the forthcoming remake of Arthur), and is probably going to be making a film with Tom Cruise (Rock Of Ages, an adaptation of the Broadway musical).
As an expat, he tells the SNL audience, he now feels very patriotic. “Colin Firth is the new Diana!” he says by way of explaining his teary love of The King’s Speech. Then he talks a little about life chez Perry-Brand. It’s great, and it’s ordinary, and it’s great that it’s ordinary. Now his “problems” are things like Perry blithely telling him she’s lent his car to her brother. And now, when someone rings the doorbell at the home in Los Angeles that Brand bought for $3.25million in December 2009, his immediate thought process is no longer “doorbell, police, raid, sniffer dogs, flush drugs!”
“I had to address my Englishness, address the way I dress, address the biggest thing in the room – that I’m married to a pop star,” he reflects later. “And people liked it, and I was happy. I thought it was sweet and nice. I also thought it was professional. That’s what I should do in that situation,” says the man still infamous for the 2008 “Sachsgate” scandal that led to him being sacked from BBC Radio 2.
In some ways LA-living, Hollywood-endorsed, happily married Brand is, it seems, all grown up. But it’s not come without some effort. “I’ve got a default setting of being mischievous,” he acknowledges. “If I’m tired, for example, I’ll gravitate towards comedy about sex or shocking stuff. So I have to really focus and be diligent ’cause that’s only a small fraction of who I am, and it’s a bit lazy sometimes. It’s a bit of a tick, a go-to place.”
His funniest SNL sketch has Brand playing an old wizard who visits a young girl in her room at Dreary Wick Orphanage. It’s full of innuendo, albeit innuendo emanating from the (adult) actress playing the girl. Yet the sketch is not used in the final show. “It was good, wasn’t it?” he says afterwards. “It was a bit edgy for them – they would have left it in. But it was…”
Creepy? “Exactly. I thought to myself: ‘I’ve got Arthur coming out in a month, I’ve got Hop, a kids cartoon movie, out a week before that. I have played the sex and drug card pretty strongly for quite a while! So now I don’t need to telegraph that.
“I feel like you have to eventually become aware of what it is you’re trying to present. And you can regard that as cynical, but I just think, I’m doing this and I wanna be successful. I want people to see the films I’m doing.”
It was, in the end, Brand’s decision to scrap the wizard. “Although it was a good sketch for me, I thought overall…” You’d take a longer view? “Exactly,” says the comedian who for so long lived in and traded on the short, sharp, shock. “That’s what I’m trying to do now.”
A few weeks later, I catch up with Brand again. We meet at Heathrow airport one Friday afternoon, sit opposite each other on a flight to Cologne – his 6ft 9in Essex bodyguard between us – then are met by dedicated airport staff at the other end. They usher us through security. Then we travel in to the hotel where we’re all staying. Then, a couple of hours after landing, after he’s put in some gym time, Brand and I meet in the hotel bar.
This is how things have to be with him and his schedule these days. He’d flown into Heathrow from LA that same day, and was travelling on to Cologne to meet “the wife” – Perry’s 10-month California Dreams world tour was playing the German city. Being apart, travelling, “is a good way of…” he begins – Brand has a huge and ornate vocabulary – “solipsistic meme quotidian complicité”.
He loves the sound of words and crafting baroque sentences. But he also talks very fast, one thought falling over another, and he often leaves sentences unfinished. “It makes me appreciate it,” he continues, meaning he and Perry’s relationship, “and keeps it kind of exciting.”
What did he make of the media reports that their five-month-old marriage (they wed in India, a year on from meeting at the MTV Video Music Awards, which Brand hosted) was already in “crisis”, and that they were in couple’s counselling?
“One of the most significant achievements of mine over the last six months is that I don’t look on Google any more. I’m over six months Google clean,” grins the former addict. “So I don’t have any interaction with [those rumours]. At all. It’s a really, really normal marriage. But yeah, I did hear that one about the counselling. But I have a really healthy attitude towards that stuff now – I can’t control what people say. I have now, for the first time ever, a domestic private life, and I’m happy with it. We’re managing it really well at the moment, I’m really proud of it as a simple, healthy, fun relationship.”
Hence him Tweeting a picture of Perry first thing in the morning, head on the pillow and face make-up free? “I didn’t mean to do that!” he insists. “I was mucking around. She took a photo of me and went, ‘I’m gonna put that on Twitter…’ So I took a photo of her. But I went further and I clicked on the Twitter thing. I thought I had successfully deleted it – but I sent it to two million people.”
Was she annoyed? “She was for a moment, but she’s all right about it. But I don’t think any woman likes to be so exposed without make-up to millions of people. But I should tell her, ‘People like that photo, it’s humanised you’,” he jokes. ‘“You’ve a whole new audience out there’.”
He hasn’t seen the trailer for the Smurfs movie due to be released this summer, in which Perry voices the only female Smurf, Smurfette. One scene has Smurfette evoking Marilyn Monroe’s billowing dress scene from The Seven Year Itch. So that’s his wife’s character – coquettish Smurf. “Yeah, makes sense,” he shoots back. “Good casting.”
Perry comes offstage and rings him just as our interview is finishing, around midnight. He’s to meet her in the underground car park, and together they will travel on to the hotel where, it transpires, he’s actually staying.
“You get used to it,” he says of his heavy flying schedule. He managed to sleep fine on the overnight transatlantic flight. Did he take a sleeping pill? “Mother’s little helper? Nah, I can’t fuck around with all that.” Not even prescription ones? “Especially not those. I’d start taking ’em every day.”
We talk about Arthur, a remake of the 1981 comedy which had Dudley Moore in the title role, Liza Minnelli as his true love interest, and John Gielgud playing his faithful butler. In the new version, the butler is Helen Mirren, but Arthur is still a boozy English billionaire trying to duck an arranged marriage in favour of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks.
“Arthur is a sweet and charming bon viveur, but also kind of loving. The line from the original that really resonated with me is when Gielgud goes to visit Minnelli, and she goes: ‘Did Arthur send you here?’ He goes, ‘No, Arthur is far too fine a person to be involved in anything as tawdry as this.’ It made me think of the British aristocracy’s traditional role as stalwarts of decency. They would have led the line in battle. Along with their privilege came duty.
“So I tried to play Arthur in that way. Even though he’s a billionaire, he loves people, he sees good in people. He wants them to have fun, and is joyous. So that for me was very attractive. And obviously as well, it made Dudley Moore a superstar. So it's an unbelievable opportunity really,” he adds in typical straight-talking style.
Brand doesn’t do coy, or faux humility. His ambition is his rocket-fuel, and whereas before that occasionally landed him in trouble, now it keeps him on the straight and narrow. As someone who’s stared into the toilet bowl of drug-fuelled madness, what does Brand make of Charlie Sheen’s current situation? “Well, actually, it’s something that I’m quite cautious about. Because I don’t think it’s a subject for entertainment. And I always wouldn’t want to be judgemental in any way.
“I’ve spoken to him a few times, you can tell he’s just a brilliant, smart bloke. And evidently, from the tests he’s had, he’s not taking drugs [any more]. But it’s gonna take him a while. And he’s burning AA books – he’s really not up for [rehab]. But,” he adds, “he’s in the right place – if he sorts himself out, he’ll be OK. Because Hollywood redeems.”
Has Perry been Brand’s redemption? It seems that way. After years of mind-boggling womanising – Booky Wook 2 begins with a very funny account of his relationship with Kate Moss – Brand has settled down. Did meeting Perry suddenly shut off his wild-oats urges? “Yeah, it was like that,” he admits. For one thing, for the first time he had “parity” with a woman. Previously his fame and celebrity “imbalanced” all his relationships. He describes the manner of his meeting Perry as “phenomenal”.
“The night before I went on my first date with her I was living my old life! Close one door because new people were coming in. And from then to now, I’ve grasped this tendril and been on that since.” Was it a surprise to him, that his oversexualised tap could be turned off so suddenly? “It’s been extraordinary,” he nods. “I’m still surprised by it – surprised that I’m here in Cologne to meet my wife, get to spend a couple of days with her…Ten years ago my life was so far away from this people just wouldn’t have said this would happen to me. Except for me – I was the only person who thought it was possible. And much as I wanted to be successful, I wanted to have a partner and a family. There were long periods amid my single life where I’d think, ‘It’d be good to have a mate’.
“There was one particular occasion when I was staying in some country hotel and I was watching Watership Down. And looking at the fields in it, I turned to the girl I was with and said, ‘Oh look, that’s like that walk we went on yesterday.’ And as I was saying it I was thinking, ‘Oh f, that wasn’t her. That was Yesterday Girl!’” He grins sheepishly at his own, well, awfulness.
“So there was no development. And as well as there being no development in the relationships, there was no development in me. I just skimmed along the surface of stuff for a very long while, and never had a chance to go deeper.”
Yes, he says, they both want children, and he admits he hankers after a return to Britain. “I secretly want to do that. I have a fear of hearing my American children speak to me in American accents.”
Would Perry be up for that? “I’m sure I can sell her Great Britain on some level. The Cotswolds — people seem to be up for that don’t they? Stone-walled cottage…” But in the meantime there’s a Hollywood career to take care of. This summer Brand will either be filming a film called Bad Father, or another with the working title of West Texas United. In the latter he would play a former West Ham footballer – Brand is a Hammers fan – who pitches up in the Lone Star State to teach soccer to local kids. “It’s about squandering greatness,” he says.
The film with Cruise would be more of a stretch for his still-nascent acting skills. He’s been offered the film – no audition required – and he’s confident it’ll happen. But still: is there a bit of him going “bloody hell, I’m a goon from Grays in Essex – and I’m about to work with Tom Cruise?”
“Yeah, there is, there is,” he says thoughtfully. “It doesn’t seem fully real. But it happens by increments. If someone had said when I was doing Bugsy Malone at Grays School, ‘You wanna do a movie with Tom Cruise?’, I’d have gone, ‘When?’ And they’d have gone, ‘In 20 years!’ “I’d be like, I’m not gonna live that long! I’ll be dead, twice over, by then’.”
He grins. “It turns out I am – the drug addict has died, the womaniser has died. And somehow this shell, gasping but somehow still alive, is here.”
‘Arthur’ is released on April 22
Russell Brand will be hosting his own late night TV comedy show on the FX network, starting later this year, according to FX. The show is set to be shot in front of a live audience and is said to take on topics including politics, news and pop culture. The show has yet to be titled, reports Reuters.
"We're very excited to add Russell Brand's bracingly funny, original, and honest voice to the FX comedy line-up," said Nick Grad, original programming chief at FX.
Drug addiction - an illness not a crime, says Russell Brand Drug addiction should be treated as a potentially fatal illness and not a crime, comedian Russell Brand has told a parliamentary select committee.
24 Apr 2012
The flamboyant film star and comedian said drug addicts should not be put on methadone for years at a time, written off and left on the sidelines of society. He also called for possession of drugs to be decriminalised.
Abstinence-based recovery for addicts would help "neutralise the toxic social threat they pose as criminals", he said. Society should not just "discard people, write them off on methadone and leave them on the sidelines", he added. Brand also said he would back decriminalisation of possession of drugs, adding that there was "a degree of cowardice and wilful ignorance around this condition".
He said: "I'm not a legal expert. I'm saying that, to a drug addict, the legal aspect is irrelevant. If you need to get drugs, you will. The criminal and legal status, I think, sends the wrong message. Being arrested isn't a lesson, it's just an administrative blip." He added that he was not telling people not to take drugs if it was causing no harm but said he wanted to see more funding for abstinence-based recovery.
Brand said he became addicted to drugs because of emotional and psychological difficulties, adding "it was rough". The star, who said he had beaten a heroin addiction which saw him arrested a dozen times, was giving evidence to MPs reviewing the Government's drugs strategy.
Brand, who arrived at the hearing wearing a black hat, gold chains and crosses and a torn black vest top, said he was not calling for "a free-for-all where everyone goes around taking drugs". Instead, he said addiction should be treated as an illness and society should recognise that addicts, with the proper help, can become active and useful members. Asked if there should be a carrot-and-stick approach, he said it should be more about "love and compassion".
Speaking rapidly and addressing committee members by their first names, Brand dismissed suggestions that addicts cared where their drugs came from or the consequences of their production. "I don't think they're going to be affected by that because they're normally on drugs," he said. Asked about the role of celebrities, he said: "Who cares about bloody celebrities?" Brand said that, instead, he wanted to offer people "truth and authenticity".
During the lively and energetic 30-minute hearing, Brand also addressed MPs as "mate" and, when pushed for time by chairman Keith Vaz, replied: "Time is infinite. We can't run out of time. Who's next? Theresa May? She may not turn up. Ask her if she knows what day it is."
Members of the public packed the hearing room to hear Brand's evidence. When Labour MP David Winnick told Brand the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee was not a variety show, Brand replied: "You're providing a little bit of variety though, making it more like Dad's Army."
Chip Somers, chief executive of the detox centre Focus 12 where Brand sought help with drug dependency, said: "Just to park people on methadone for four to seven years is criminal." Abstinence was an "admirable aim for everybody", he said, but he admitted that not everyone would achieve it. "I don't think methadone is a good thing." He added he thought many methadone users were also using other drugs.
Both Brand and Mr Somers said the number of people criminalised for possession should be reduced.
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