Russell Brand Forgetting Sarah Marshall Interview

Russell Brand Forgetting Sarah Marshall Interview

RUSSELL BRAND IS NO ORDINARY COMIC.

Interview by Paul Fischer

There is no doubt that Russell Brand, making his Hollywood screen debut in the irreverent romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, is no ordinary comedian. The British comic who resembles a punk rocker with hair piled up on his head, walks in with a rose and leaves our interview kissing this journalist on the cheek. Brazen, audacious, eloquent and with a vocabulary that emphasizes his clear intellect, interviewing Russell Brand is often no easy task. Always one to compare his huge celebrity status in Britain with his more up-and-coming position in Los Angeles, Russell Brand talks openly about fame, the British tabloids and Hollywood, to Paul Fischer.

PAUL FISCHER: THE DIRECTOR SAID THAT WHEN YOU CAME TO AUDITION FOR THIS YOU WERE VERY LOW KEY AND THEN THAT SUDDENLY YOU BROKE OUT INTO THIS. HOW DID YOU REACT TO THIS SCRIPT WHEN YOU READ IT?

RUSSELL BRAND: I thought it was wonderful. I think that in an audition situation onemust acknowledge that there's a necessity for a certain amount of foreplaybefore launching into fully blown auditions.


PAUL FISCHER: LIKE IN LIFE REALLY?

RUSSELL BRAND: Very much, very similar. I think of it as a template for life. Youcan't immediately be taught, erect and buoyant, spraying effluvium willynilly. First of all I must be courteous and gracious and polite.


PAUL FISCHER: SOME PEOPLE DO THAT THOUGH.

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, some people do, but those people usually end up in prison. Soit was a very exciting script to read. The prospect of working with JuddApatow was thrilling and then after the audition I met Nicholas [Stoller],the director and Jason Segal and I was yet more excited.


PAUL FISCHER: DO YOU LIVE HERE AND HAVE YOU WORKED HERE?

RUSSELL BRAND: No. I live in London. All of my work is in London. My TV show is inLondon. My radio show. My column. My life. My cat, Morrissey, all in London.


PAUL FISCHER: WERE DISCOVERING YOU FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THIS MOVIE, BUT YOU'RE HUGE IN ENGLAND, RIGHT?

RUSSELL BRAND: Yes, I am. I'm a very successful person. Look at all these thingsI've been able to get. I bought these myself with money. In England, yeah,I'm a successful comedian. It's really good. I'm able to have this haircutand no one questions this anymore.


PAUL FISCHER: WHERE IS YOUR FAME COMPARED TO LIKE A JUDE LAW OR HUGH GRANT?

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, it's a much more tabloid based fame than that unless of courseHugh Grant has been sleeping with prostitutes then of course we're abouteven. We're aware of the Divine Brown fiasco, but what I'm saying is thatcurrently...the fiasco in my view is that he didn't marry her. It would'vebeen a real live 'Pretty Woman' except it would've said 'An Alright Woman'or 'Passable Woman'.


PAUL FISCHER: JASON SAID HE WAS ACTUALLY THINKING OF A HUGH GRANT TYPE FOR YOUR CHARACTER. SO YOU MUST'VE COME IN THERE AND BLOWN THEM AWAY WITH MORE OF A ROCK AND ROLL TYPE PERSON. DID YOU HAVE THIS GUY IN MIND WHEN YOU WALKED IN AND THEN CONVINCETHEM THAT HE SHOULD BE MORE ROCK AND ROLL?

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, I'm sort of like any author and authors can be quite extremecharacters like Hemingway, a writer, who was certainly no wall flower orJean-Genee. So within literature there are people that are quitedecadent and hedonistic, aren't there? Henry Miller. So I thought that Iwould just play him like he was a Henry Miller kind of sexy author. Thenthey thought that it would be easier to just cast him as a rock star ratherthan trying to justify a man who writes books for a living having thatamount of eyeliner on.


PAUL FISCHER: DID YOU IMPROVISE ON THIS AT ALL?

RUSSELL BRAND: Almost entirely. We were out there for two weeks, but they taught mehow to horse ride and they taught me how to surf. We had two weeks ofworkshopping and writing up the script and they were incredibly generous andgave me an awful lot of freedom. I must say that it's great. It's so nuancedand brilliant. Jason wrote a wonderful story and a wonderful script andstill within that they allowed for that ethos and allowed for me toimprovise lines. That was brilliant and liberating for me because as astandup comedian I'm happier when I'm sort of writing my own material andstuff. So it was incredibly liberating and fulfilling. I improvised loadsand loads.


PAUL FISCHER: WAS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU IMPROVISED THAT WAS TOO OVER THE TOP THAT THEY WEREN'T ALLOWED TO USE?

RUSSELL BRAND: No. They were so encouraging. It was like being a spoiled, precociousand indulged child. Everything I said was applauded and celebrated.


PAUL FISCHER: WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD.

RUSSELL BRAND: Thank you. I hope there's more. I really do.


PAUL FISCHER: WHAT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT WORKING ON AN AMERICAN COMEDY? WHAT HAPPENED THAT YOU DIDN'T EXPECT?

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, I didn't expect that people would be so genuine and so sweetand gracious. I was very surprised by that. I thought that it would bechallenging. I didn't think that I would make friends with people as easilyas I did and I didn't think that me personally being a deeply self-involvedgentleman would find it so easy to be a part of an ensemble.


PAUL FISCHER: HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH JASON?

RUSSELL BRAND: Wonderful. He's a brilliant and generous actor. He's very skillfuland funny and always looking for the laugh, but also good with subtle stuff.He works out the rhythm of a performer very quickly and gives you space todevelop that. He's a really very skillful actor and a lovely bloke. I lovedhim.


PAUL FISCHER: HAD YOU SEEN ANY OF KRISTEN BELL'S WORK BEFORE YOU DID THIS?

RUSSELL BRAND: No. I hadn't seen any of that kind of thing because that's not thesort of thing that I watch on the television. Those sort of things, they'refor teenagers, aren't they, her program. But she's really good. They're allreally talented and good. I'm a standup comic, normally and I do my own TVshow and so I'm not really used to interacting with other people and so Iwork in a quite insular way and so to work with these people and to findthese people good was exciting. It was really exciting. I loved it.

PAUL FISCHER: IF YOU'RE FAME IS TABLOID BASED WHAT'S YOUR BIG SCANDAL?

RUSSELL BRAND: Oh, Christ. Womanizing and fluzzying about. Do you know that somenewspapers in the United Kingdom have the absolute gall to send women tosleep with me after standup comedy shows and then they write about it in thenewspapers. Fortunately the grammar is appalling because the women areultimately hussies and shouldn't be allowed to pick up a pen.


PAUL FISCHER: ARE THOSE THE 3AM GIRLS?

RUSSELL BRAND: [laughs] Oh, I've never had the pleasure of a 3AM girl. But of courseyou know that enduring fame can't be based on anything other than talent ormurder and I don't have the lust for blood, but certainly I have otherlusts. In the United Kingdom there are a lot of red foot tabloids that arefueled by lasciviousness and salaciousness.


PAUL FISCHER: DO YOU TRY TO AVOID TO ANY OF THAT STUFF?

RUSSELL BRAND: No, actually not because I think if you're quite nice to people Idon't think there's anything wrong with it. What can they write? Often theyfocus on my behavior towards my cat, but one kiss and tell story said, 'He'svery unusual. He wore slippers in the house and he talked to his cat. Whenwe got in there was a bowl of cat food on the floor.' That's where you putthe cat food. Where else do you put cat food? I know they're agile, but youdon't want to make the cat jump up on the table and fucking impose humanmanners on the feline world. It's unnecessary. So I don't think there's anyharm that can be done as long as I treat people well then their kiss andtell stories cannot harm me. My rings are like a shield of steel.


PAUL FISCHER: HOW CAN I BE MORE LIKE YOU AND HAVE THAT KIND OF FAME?

RUSSELL BRAND: The rose is still on the table. We'll only be rewarding the rose atthe end of the interview. I think that most important thing about havingsuccess is to acknowledge the beauty in others. If you look into people'seyes and you see the light and the divine force glowing within them how canyou not be compelled to unite with them physically? You see the beauty inother people. Everyone inside themselves has a little self-doubt and if youhelp to then overcome that by recognizing how beautiful they are it's almostimpossible for them not to have sex with you.


PAUL FISCHER: CLEARLY YOU EXUDE THAT KIND OF LIGHT SHINING AURA.

RUSSELL BRAND: That's very kind of you to say so. Yes. I just try to see the beautyin things and people as often as I can and I know that's a challenging wayto live your life sometimes, but mostly the world is deep when people arebeautiful and I do really like cuddling women. I love women. Hello! You area woman. You're perfect. Let get me give you a bottle of beer.


PAUL FISCHER: I KNOW YOU'VE TOURED THE UK AND PROBABLY EUROPE, BUT DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO TOUR HERE?

RUSSELL BRAND: Yes. I'm doing standup comedy at The Paul Gleason Theater onHollywood Boulevard on the fifth and sixth of April. Please come.


PAUL FISCHER: WHERE IS THAT?

RUSSELL BRAND: It's such a big bloody numbered boulevard. Number 5000? I don't know.If someone would Google it it's The Paul Gleason Theater. It's only about alittle hundred seater thing. I've got to practice and learn the Americanrhythm so that I can make the American people laugh.


PAUL FISCHER: HOW DIFFERENT DO YOU THINK YOU'LL APPROACH YOUR HUMOR TO AN AMERICAN AUDIENCE AS OPPOSED TO EUROPEANS?

RUSSELL BRAND: I think there's a crossover. I think American culture is the dominantculture in the world, particularly in entertainment and media and this issomething that I'm completely in tune with as a standup comedian. The onesthat I admire the most are people like Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor andLarry David, Jerry Seinfeld. So I understand how American comedy works. Iknow that I'm a different phenomenon and I plan to exploit that beingludicrously English, but I'll speak slowly.


PAUL FISCHER: I HEARD THAT JUDD APATOW IS WRITING SOMETHING WITH YOU IN MIND. HAS THERE BEEN TALK OF WHAT THAT'S GOING TO BE?

RUSSELL BRAND: No, because I was with Judd doing an interview for 'Esquire' magazinein the UK and when Judd was asked that question, 'What's it about -' he justsaid, 'Russell Brand and Jonah Hill are doing a film together. It'll be donesoon.' They said, 'What's it about?' He said, 'Oh, no. I can't tell youthat.' Mind you, I would've told you everything. I would tell you about thecostumes, the plot, who I'm going to try and cast as the leading lady, how Iplan to manipulate that process, but unfortunately if Judd won't answer thequestion I have to respect because he is the alpha male in that situation.If I make a mistake then I might not be asked to be in anymore films andthat would dramatically the statistics of my love life going forward.


PAUL FISCHER: BUT YOU DO KNOW ABOUT THE MOVIE?

RUSSELL BRAND: Oh, yeah, yeah, that it's being written currently and that Universalhas bought it.


PAUL FISCHER: IS IT A BRITISH CHARACTER YOU'D PLAY?

RUSSELL BRAND: Yeah. I mean, isn't true that at first you want to playapproximations of yourself. Initially I don't plan on transforming likeDaniel Day Lewis. I'd like to just carry on like this for a while to letthem know who I am and then I might consider playing a part where I hat.


PAUL FISCHER: WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN AMERICA?

RUSSELL BRAND: I think that people are very garrulous and available and I enjoythat. I enjoy the immediacy and the warmth. I've met some very beautiful andexciting people. I enjoy it. It seems very geared towards socializing andpeople are very comfortable. I live of course in and am from a culture wherepeople are deeply, deeply repressed and constantly embarrassed by their owngenitals.


PAUL FISCHER: NOT YOU THOUGH?

RUSSELL BRAND: No, no. I celebrate mine. I'm something of an anomaly in England.Earlier on I met a French gentleman who said my sexuality made him want tobe sick in his own handbag. I don't think he meant that offensively. I thinkhe's just acknowledging that I'm unusual for an Englishman and I'm verycomfortable.


PAUL FISCHER: HOW ARE AMERICAN WOMEN COMPARED TO BRITISH WOMEN?

RUSSELL BRAND: I think they're very beautiful. I mean, I love English women. Mymother is an English woman, for heaven sake, but yeah, I like Americanwomen. I can see what Jimmy Hendrix was on about when he said, 'Americanwoman.'


PAUL FISCHER: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE SINCE YOU'VE BEEN HERE?

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, I've not really been on a proper holiday because I'm promoting'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' and doing this Disney film with Adam Sandler. SoI'm mostly concentrating on that.


PAUL FISCHER: WHAT IS THAT?

RUSSELL BRAND: It's called 'Bedtime Stories' and it stars Adam Sandler. I'm hispsychic. I play a character called Mickey. A character called Mickey in aDisney film. Isn't that a wonderful name? I'm so excited about that. I'veasked to wear those little shorts as much as possible. I think that I'll bea right little dream boat in them. Steamboat Willy? I should say so!


PAUL FISCHER: WHERE WOULD YOU GO AFTER A BREAKUP? THIS GUY GOES TO HAWAII?

RUSSELL BRAND: I can't ever imagine being so broken hearted that I would leave mybedroom. I would simply wait for someone else to arrive. We do have a luckynumber. It's like a deli counter at my house. You just take a ticket andwait. I just wait for the next number and I pray that it's number sixtynine.


PAUL FISCHER: YOU HAVE SOME REALLY FUN SCENES WITH JONAH HILL AND JACK MCBRAYER. WAS THERE ANYONE WHO MADE YOU LAUGH A LOT ON THE SET?

RUSSELL BRAND: They all did. They're all writers. It was challenging to mypreconceptions about my talent to meet such talented American young people.Jonah Hill is a fantastic improviser. Jason himself is wonderful - all ofthem. Jack McBrayer is funny. All of them, I enjoyed it so much because thatelevates you doesn't it. I learned something about that. I learned that Idon't always have to be doing stuff on my own. I like standup and I'm incomplete control of it, but when you're working with people who are properlyfunny it makes you have to get better to cope with it.


PAUL FISCHER: WHAT DID YOU ENJOY IN HAWAII?

RUSSELL BRAND: Well, to tell the truth outside of the coconut bras I found it verydifficult because in a country where you're not famous one encounterscertain difficulties. I must say that this is a social protocol forwhich I have little regard and so that was the most difficult thing. And any environment no matter how beautiful becomes after a while restricting.Hawaii seems to me to be a tropical penitentiary.


PAUL FISCHER: WOMEN DIDN'T DROP TO YOUR FEET IN HAWAII?

RUSSELL BRAND: They did nothing of the sort. My feet were unencumbered by drapedwomen.


PAUL FISCHER: THAT'S A TRAGEDY, REALLY.

RUSSELL BRAND: It was for a little while, but I enjoyed it enormously. I did miss mylife. I missed my cat. I missed home. I missed my culture to be honest, butI'm set with here much better. I really like Los Angeles and I'm reallysurprised by that. I heard that it was a really superficial and vacuousspace and astonishingly I fit right in.


PAUL FISCHER: HOW DO YOU GET READY FOR THE BEACH THOUGH?

RUSSELL BRAND: I don't go to the beach. My haircut does not mix well with maritimematters. I prefer to stay on the old terra firma, to be honest with you. Ido like the bikinis, but the risks to my haircut are too great to take. WhenI had to do that surfer scene in the film I had to employ every Stanislavskitechnique I've ever learned to stop myself weeping for a hairdresser.


PAUL FISCHER: HOW DID YOU ACTUALLY DO WITH THE SURFING?

RUSSELL BRAND: We were taught to surf by what I can only describe as an all Americanbeefcake hero. His name was Mike. He'd been in the Marines in the elitespecial forces. He'd been in the American Water Polo Team. He was a man soconfident in his masculinity that the sea itself was awash with histestosterone. I surfed on that most of the time. It was challenging becauseI was already doing something that I was rubbish at, surfing. I was wearing,as it turned out, inappropriate bathing attire. I wore too short of shorts.They were like little hot pants, tiny little knicker things and I was thenself-conscious about that. Then Mike was like King Neptune in that sea,holding me there. I fell in love with him a little bit because he sort ofseemed so powerful and stuff and would push me out on that surfboard. Therewas a point where I stood up on the surfboard and got all the way to theshore one occasion.


PAUL FISCHER: THEY SAID THERE'S MORE HORSE RIDING ON THE DVD.

RUSSELL BRAND: That's hard. Horse riding, I don't know if you know, when you'redoing that it's carried out under adversity, that relationship. That'santithetic relationship. 'Oh, do it like you're driving a car.' I can'tdrive a car. Also, when you're driving a car the car of it's own volitionwander into a garage and demand pet food and start eating it. They all justwanted some grass sometime and you have to let them have it otherwise thehorse gets annoyed. 'Kick it.' I don't want to kick it. Also, they werelike, 'You're in charge! You're in charge!' That's the first time I've everbeen horse riding and he's been doing it all his life. How can I be in thelead in that relationship? Horse riding very difficult.


PAUL FISCHER: CAN PEOPLE SEE YOUR SHOW ONLINE?

RUSSELL BRAND: Yeah, go to youtube.com or as I call it metube and look up RussellBrand.


PAUL FISCHER: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STANDUP COMEDY? WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT YOUR COMEDY NOW FROM WHEN YOU STARTED OUT?

RUSSELL BRAND: It's different now because I exist in a different context. Beingfamous in my home country does change the perspective and it changes howpeople treat you. But what it doesn't change is the incessant and relentlessembarrassment that pursues me everywhere, the capacity to be humiliated bythe most truthful of events. My standup is defined by being an honest andconfessional examination of what it is to be alive - how embarrassing thatcan be, how funny that can be and how bloody sexy the whole thing is.


PAUL FISCHER: WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST HUMILIATION?

RUSSELL BRAND: It never ends, my humiliation. I don't know quite where to begin. I'dhave to think of the most recent occasion. Alright, I was in a taxi inLondon just before I came here and the taxi driver was very aggressive and Imisjudged the situation because he was clearly a person - you know how somepeople are very comfortable fighting? They like it.

They prefer to be in afight rather than a conversation and you can't reason with people who wouldrather fight than have a conversation. It's like a tiger. You can't say to atiger, 'Don't bite me. I've got a mortgage.' It wouldn't care. A tiger is arelentless killing machine. I found myself in a conversation with a blackman from Jamaica, from where we call The Yard in the UK. He had a big sortof and a scar running the whole length of his face like that. I was inthe back of this cab and I'd just come from the gym. I was wearing a tracksuit and he went past the left term that I wanted him to in Primrose Hillswhich is not a place where there's a lot of gangster violence. PrimroseHill. You can tell from the name. We missed the left and I was on the phoneand I said, 'Left! Left!' I sort of got a bit angry and I tried to claw backtime by the way that I said left. 'Leeeeefft! Leeffft!' like that. But youcannot claw back time. It's impossible. He took offense at the way that I'dspoken to him. [Jamaican accent] 'Don't talk to me like that.'

He wasproperly offended and immediately aggressive. At that earliest stage Idecided to have an entirely different personality, that of a character thatRay Winstone would play in a film. 'Don't fucking talk to me like that,mate. You don't know who you're fucking dealing with.' He don't know. Heactually was the first to say to me, 'You don't know who you're dealingwith. You can't talk to me like that. You're don't know what you're doing.'I said, 'You don't know who you're fucking dealing with.' But of course hedid because he'd seen me on the television and he was dealing with an effeteperformer with an androgynous sexuality. This is not threatening. So we gotinto a very sort of heavy argument where I kept pretending to be harder andharder, but my threats were a bit rubbish. He goes, 'Get out of my car. Getout of my car.' I said, 'I ain't getting out of your car, mate. You're goingto have to take me back to your office -' and that's not something that agangster would ever say. A gangster would not make a clerically basedthreat.

So that was difficult and then during the argument I got a phonecall from my accountant, talking to me about a pension plan that I had toconduct. 'Oh, yes, Angelo. I'm very sorry. I think we should, yes.' Likethat, and then my mum called during it and then I start to feel guilty thatI'd been rude to this man. He agreed to take me back to my house and then Ithought, 'Oh, no. He's going to know where I live. What if he kills me?' SoI made him drop me off on the next street at a neighbors that I've neverbeen particularly fond of. I thought if there is a revenge attack thatperson will be the victim. So we did manage to find peace by the end of it.I sort of apologized like a gangster. 'Sorry bout that, mate. Sorry.' It wasa gangster apology and it frankly ended well encouraging me that we can findunity and peace between different gangs. The Crips and Bloods, I would say.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Starring: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd
Director: Nick Stoller
Screenwriter: Jason Segel, Judd Apatow
Producer: Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson
Genre: Comedies
Rated: R

Synopsis:
From the producers of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up comes a comic look at one guy's arduous quest to grow up and get over the heartbreak of being dumped -- if he can only make himself start Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Struggling musician Peter Bretter (Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother, Knocked Up) has spent six years idolizing his girlfriend, television star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars). He's the guy left holding her purse in paparazzi photos and accidentally omitted from acceptance award speeches. But his world is rocked when she dumps him and Peter finds himself alone. After an unsuccessful bout of womanizing and an on-the-job nervous breakdown, he sees that not having Sarah may just ruin his life. To clear his head, Peter takes an impulsive trip to Oahu, where he is confronted by his worst nightmare: his ex and her tragically hip new British-rocker boyfriend, Aldous (Russell Brand), are sharing his hotel. But as he torments himself with the reality of Sarah's new life, he finds relief in a flirtation with Rachel (Mila Kunis), a beautiful resort employee whose laid-back approach tempts him to rejoin the world. He also finds relief in several hundred embarrassing, fruity cocktails. For anyone who has ever had their heart ripped out and cut into a billion pieces comes a hilarious, heartfelt look at relationships -- featuring Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader and Jack McBrayer. Part romantic comedy, part disaster film, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the world's first romantic disaster comedy. -- Universal Pictures [Less]

Only at the movies April 18




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