The eccentric, slightly insane Brit talks to ReelzChannel.
You may not know Russell Brand on this side of the ocean just yet, but you soon will. Trust me.
I first met Brand in a room full of press prior to my one-on-one interview and thank God I had this quick prep course. The fact that Brand looked nearly identical to his character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Aldous Snow, was the first indication that something a little different was happening here. But it's more than that. Outside of being a popular rock star, that character in Sarah Marshall essentially is Russell Brand.
In England, Brand has already become a household name. More than just trashy talk and shocking revelations, Brand is extremely quick on his feet with a gift for improv comedy rarely seen. Much like Sacha Baron Cohen's famous personas Ali G, Borat and Bruno, Brand's filthy Brit rocker is rife with comic material, spit out at such a lightening pace that you often don't realize just how insane what he just said was until he's already on to something else.
To start off this highly entertaining interview, I let Brand offer up his own career back story.
Jeff Otto, reelz.com: For a Yankee who's not familiar with you, give me a little background on Russell Brand.
Russell Brand: I am a stand-up comic trained as an actor. I had a terrible drug problem whilst learning my craft as an actor... After I got thrown out of drama school I started doing stand-up comedy and very quickly got a job on MTV presenting TV shows... I used to go around to night clubs and talk bizarre and unusual things (with people)... It made very good TV because of course they were all on drugs. They didn't understand what was happening to them... They would talk about peculiar things and people would just get into the conversation. Of course, at that time, I was on crack and heroin, so I was on more intoxicating drugs than they were, so I was at a disadvantage.
JO: Did MTV fund the drugs?
RB: They didn't directly fund the drugs, but they were okay with me taking them as long as I was relatively professional. I was eventually sacked from MTV when I came to work on September the 12th in the company of my drug dealer Gritty, his son Edwin and I was to interview the pop star Kylie Minogue. I came in that day dressed as Osama Bin Laden. It was only the day after September the 11th. Too soon, people said. I was a bit high and daft and I don't think I understood the intricacies of global politics. I was sacked the next day.
After that I had my own radio show and I got sacked from that... People would come see my stand-up, see me on MTV, listen to my XFM show, which is an independent radio station. So then I had a following. I did a very risqué TV show called Rebrand where I challenged cultural taboos by having a homeless person come live with me. I had a bath with him to show how all homeless people are capable of being domesticated. I went and lived with a prostitute and her family... I tried to seduce an old lady...
JO: This was all part of your show?
RB: Yes, it was all part of the show, all filmed. It's all on YouTube.
I did that over the period of a few months, but I was very much a man in decline at that point.... Eventually, thanks to the courage of my agent John Knoll, was forced to go into rehabilitation for about three months. [I] came out very bruised, brittle, damaged. I didn't work for a little while... Started doing stand-up again, got on a TV show that was affiliated with Big Brother called Big Brother's Big Mouth, which was sort of a show where they examine Big Brother, but it gave me loads of room and it was live and it was funny... I went on a chat show which is really big on the U.K. called Jonathan Morris and had a really good performance... As a result of that, mad tabloid stuff started to happen as well. I started to get photographed with different women. Then it all went mad and blew up...
I got a radio show, which is now the most popular podcast in the U.K. I carried on doing stand-up, hosted the Brit Awards... I wrote my autobiography which was a bestseller ("My Booky Wook") and is now being made into a film by Michael Winterbottom... I play myself.
Then, on an MTV chat show I did, Adam Sandler came on as a guest and I got along really well with [him]... His agent was also there [and] they said, "Would you like to be an actor in Los Angeles?" I did general meetings and met Judd Apatow and read for Sarah Marshall... Then Adam and Disney put me in their new film (Bedtime Stories) and then I'm doing another film with Judd later on this year.
JO: And that's the one with Jonah Hill that you said you can't talk about?
RB: If it was up to me I'd tell you everything, but I don't know that much.
JO: Does the running theme from Sarah Marshall of Jonah being sexually attracted to you continue in this new movie?
RB: I think the reason this got sold is because of the stuff me and Jonah did together [in Sarah Marshall].
JO: How close is Aldous Snow to Russell Brand?
RB: A lot of time it's quite superficial things, like I'm a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. I had a public persona that's built with sex and decadence... Where it's vastly different is that he's got that sense of detachment and I'm not a detached person. I'm very engaged and sort of ambitious.
I'm not a "float through life" kind of person...