Arthur (2011) (pre-production)
Hop (2011) (filming)
The Tempest (2010)
Despicable Me (2010)
Get Him to the Greek (2010)
Bedtime Stories (2008)
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind (2007)
St. Trinian’s (2007)
The Abbey (2007)
A Bear’s Christmas Tail (2004)
Cruise of the Gods (2002)
White Teeth (2002)
A Brief History of Cuba in D Minor (2001)
Mud (6 episodes, 1994)
Russell Edward Brand (born 4 June 1975) is an English comedian, actor, columnist, author and presenter of radio and television.
Brand achieved mainstream fame in the UK for presenting a Big Brother spin-off, Big Brother’s Big Mouth, and for his radio show, among other television series and award ceremonies. He has also appeared in a number of films, including the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, St Trinian’s, and Bedtime Stories. He is noted for various controversies that have surrounded him in the British media, such as the 2008 prank calls that led to his resignation from the BBC.
Brand was born in Orsett Hospital, Grays, Essex, England, the only child of Barbara Elizabeth (née Nichols) and Ronald Henry Brand, a photographer, who married six years earlier. Brand’s parents separated when he was six months old. His mother raised him on her own; he had a somewhat isolated and lonely childhood. When Brand was seven, he was sexually abused by a tutor. When Brand was eight, his mother had uterine cancer; a year later she had breast cancer. Brand stayed with relatives whilst his mother underwent treatment. When Brand was 14, he became bulimic. He left school and home at 16, at which time his mother had lymphoma and he did not get on with her live-in partner. He then began taking drugs, including: cannabis, amphetamines, LSD, Ecstasy, cocaine, crack and heroin. Brand stated during an interview on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday that he had “a strange relationship with his father, who he saw sporadically and who took him to visit prostitutes during a trip to the Far East”. After Brand’s parents divorced, his father remarried twice.
Brand attended Grays School, a comprehensive. He made his theatrical debut at the age of 15 playing “Fat Sam” in a school production of Bugsy Malone, which prompted him to become an actor. He began working as an extra, and applied to study at the Italia Conti Academy. He was accepted, and Essex council funded his tuition for an introductory year, with potential funding for three additional years. Brand joined the Academy in 1991. Brand was using drugs and was expelled during his introductory year for his behaviour. Afterward, Brand had small acting roles in the children’s show Mud and in The Bill.
In 1995, Brand applied for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Drama Centre London and was accepted to Drama Centre. By this point he was a heroin addict and an alcoholic. He was expelled in the final term of his last year for smashing a glass over his head and then stabbing himself in the chest and arms because of poor reactions to one of his performances. After leaving Drama Centre, Brand decided to focus on comedy, and began writing material with Karl Theobald, whom he met at Drama Centre. They formed a short-lived double act, Theobald and Brand on Ice.
Brand’s first significant stand-up appearance was at the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year final in 2000. Although he finished fourth, his performance attracted the attention of an agent, Nigel Klarfeld of Gagged and Bound Comedy Ltd. That year, he also made his Edinburgh debut as one-third of the stand-up show Pablo Diablo’s Cryptic Triptych, alongside ventriloquist Mark Felgate and Anglo-Iranian comic Shappi Khorsandi.
In 2004, he took his first one-man show, the confessional Better Now to the Edinburgh Festival, giving an honest account of his heroin addiction. He returned the following year with Eroticised Humour. He launched his first nationwide tour, Shame, in 2006. Brand drew on embarrassing incidents in his own life and the tabloid press’s treatment of him since he became famous. The show was released on DVD as Russell Brand: Live.
Brand appeared in a sketch and performed stand-up at the 2006 Secret Policeman’s Ball. In March 2007, he co-hosted an evening of the Teenage Cancer Trust gigs with Noel Fielding. In December 2007, Brand performed for HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip as an act in the 2007 Royal Variety Performance.
His second nationwide tour, in 2007, was called Russell Brand: Only Joking and released on DVD as Russell Brand: Doin’ Life.
While in the U.S., Brand began performing stand-up and recorded a special for Comedy Central titled Russell Brand in New York, which aired in March 2009. Brand began touring the UK, America and Australia from January to April 2009 on a tour called Russell Brand: Scandalous. In October a further four dates that were performed in November were added to raise money for Focus 12, the drug charity for which Brand is a patron. Russell Brand: Scandalous was released on DVD on 9 November 2009.
Brand’s first presenting role came in 2000 as a VJ on the music channel MTV. He presented Dance Floor Chart, touring nightclubs in Britain and Ibiza, and hosted the teatime request show Select. However, Brand was fired after coming to work dressed as Osama bin Laden the day after the September 11, 2001 attacks and bringing his drug dealer to the MTV studios.
After leaving MTV, Brand starred in RE:Brand, a British documentary and comedy television programme that aimed to take a challenging look at cultural taboos. It was conceived, written, and hosted by Brand, with the help of his comic partner on many projects, Matt Morgan. The series was shown on the now-defunct digital satellite channel UK Play in 2002.
In 2004, he hosted Big Brother’s Eforum on E4, a sister show to Big Brother 5. The show gave celebrity guests and the public the chance to have their say on the goings-on inside the Big Brother house. For Big Brother 6, the show’s name changed to Big Brother’s Big Mouth. Following Celebrity Big Brother 5, Brand said he would not return to host the Big Brother 8 series of Big Brother’s Big Mouth. In a statement, Brand thanked all the producers for “taking the risk of employing an ex-junkie twerp” to front the show. Of his time presenting the show, he said, “The three years I’ve spent on Big Brother’s Big Mouth have been an unprecedented joy”.
Brand hosted a one-off special called Big Brother According to Russell Brand, in which Brand took a surreal, sideways look at Big Brother through the ages. On 8 January, 2008, Brand was the fifth celebrity to “hijack” the Big Brother house, in the E4 show Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack. Brand next returned to MTV in the spring of 2006 as presenter of the chat show 1 Leicester Square, which initially aired at 8 p.m. on Sundays before being shifted to a post-watershed time of 10 p.m. on Mondays, allowing for a more adult-oriented theme. Guests have included Tom Cruise, Uma Thurman, The Mighty Boosh, and Boy George. A second series began in September 2006 on MTV UK. After Big Brother 7 finished, Brand presented a debate show called Russell Brand’s Got Issues, on digital channel E4. The viewing figures for the first episode were seen as disappointing, being beaten by nearly all of E4’s main multi-channel rivals despite a big publicity and promotional campaign for the show.
The poor ratings prompted the network to repackage the show as The Russell Brand Show and move it to Channel 4. The first episode was broadcast on 24 November on Channel 4, and it ran for five weeks.
Brand presented the 2006 NME Awards. At the awards in a response to his act, Bob Geldof called him a “cunt”, to which Brand replied, “Really it’s no surprise [Geldof]’s such an expert on famine. He has after all been dining out on ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ for 30 years”. Brand hosted the 2007 BRIT Awards and presented Oasis with an “Outstanding Contribution to Music” award at the event. He also hosted one hour of Comic Relief. On 7 July 2007, he presented at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, London.
On 12 December 2007, BBC Four aired Russell Brand On the Road, a documentary presented by Brand and Matt Morgan about the writer Jack Kerouac and his novel On the Road. So Brand returned to Channel 4 to host Russell Brand’s Ponderland, in which he discussed topics like childhood and science through stand-up comedy. The show first aired on 22 October 2007, and continued for the next five nights. A second series began on 30 October 2008, drawing more than a million viewers, and was broadcast every Thursday night for four weeks, plus a Christmas special that aired in December.
Brand was later announced as the host of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, which drew skepticism from the American media, as he was relatively unknown to the American public. Brand’s stint as host of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards was not without controversy. At one point, he said the night “marked the launch of a very new Britney Spears era”, referring to it as “the resurrection of [Spears]“. He also said, “If there was a female Christ, it’s Britney”. Brand implored the audience to elect Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and later called then–U.S. President George W. Bush “a retarded cowboy fella”, who, in England, “wouldn’t be trusted with scissors”. He made several references to the purity rings worn by the Jonas Brothers, but apologized for the comments later in the show. These comments lead to Brand receiving death threats by some offended viewers. Brand claimed that MTV asked him to host the 2009 awards after the ratings for the 2008 show were 20% up from the previous year. Brand hosted the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on 13 September 2009, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The ratings for the 2009 show were the best since the 2004 VMA’s.
In 2002, Russell Brand appeared on the TV shows Cruise of the Gods (though he was fired during filming) and White Teeth. In 2005, he played Tommy in the BBC sitcom Blessed, which was written and directed by Young Ones creator Ben Elton. Brand auditioned for the part of Super Hans in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show, but was rejected by the writers in favor of Matt King.
In 2007, Brand appeared in Cold Blood for ITV, playing an ex-con called Ally. Brand played a recovering crack addict named Terry in the pilot for the ITV comedy The Abbey, written by Morwenna Banks.
He voiced the Earth Guardian in Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind.
Brand had a small role in the 2006 movie Penelope, though his first major film role was as Flash Harry in the 2007 film St Trinian’s. He did not reprise the role for the sequel, St. Trinian’s II: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold.
His breakthrough role was in the 2008 film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which he played Aldous Snow, the boyfriend of the title character (played by Kristen Bell). Brand received rave reviews for his performance as Snow, and he revealed the character was changed from an author to a rock star because of his audition. He reprised the role of Aldous Snow for a buddy comedy titled Get Him to the Greek, co-starring Jonah Hill. He reunited with Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller and producer Judd Apatow for the film. It is described in Variety Magazine as a “very dirty take on Almost Famous”.
Brand starred alongside Adam Sandler in the Disney film Bedtime Stories, which was released on Christmas Day 2008. Sandler has cast Brand in another film and will produce yet another, co-written by Brand and Matt Morgan, about a con-man posing as a priest; it is tentatively titled Bad Father. Brand will appear in Julie Taymor’s version of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest as Trinculo. Brand will also appear in an Oliver Stone film, and he is in talks to star as the title character in a remake of Arthur, written by Peter Baynham and a remake of Drop Dead Fred.
Brand’s radio career began in early 2002, when he hosted a Sunday afternoon show with Matt Morgan on London’s Indie Rock station Xfm. Brand was fired from the job after reading pornographic material live on-air.
Brand co-hosted The Russell Brand Show beginning in April 2006 on BBC 6Music. In November 2006, the show transferred to BBC Radio 2 and aired on Saturdays from 9–11 p.m. The show regularly drew about 400,000 listeners. In an episode of the show broadcast on 18 October, 2008, Brand and fellow Radio 2 DJ Jonathan Ross made a series of phone calls to the actor Andrew Sachs that crudely discussed the actor’s granddaughter. Sunday tabloid The Mail on Sunday broke the story and regarded the phone calls as obscene. Both presenters were later suspended by the BBC due to the incident, and Brand resigned from his show. The BBC was later fined £150,000 by Britain’s broadcast regulator for airing the calls.
Brand returned to radio when he and Noel Gallagher hosted a football talk show on 19 April, 2009 for talkSPORT. The special led to a 250% boost in web traffic for TalkSport.
From May 2006 till May 2009, Brand wrote a column for The Guardian that focused on West Ham United and the England national football team. A collection of the columns from May 2006 through June 2007 was released on 15 November 2007 in a book titled Irons in the Fire. A second collection of the columns from June 2007 through May 2008 was released on 16 October 2008, titled Articles of Faith. The book also includes Brand interviewing Noel Gallagher, James Corden and David Baddiel about football.
Brand’s autobiography, My Booky Wook, published by Hodder & Stoughton, was released on 15 November 2007 and received favourable reviews. The Observer commented that “Russell Brand’s gleeful tale of drugs and debauchery in My Booky Wook puts most other celebrity memoirs to shame”. Brand has begun writing his second memoir, My Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal, which was due to be released set in October 2009 but has now been pushed back to autumn 2010.
Brand signed a £1.8 million two-book deal with HarperCollins in June 2008. The first book was Articles of Faith, with the second to be My Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal.
Brand recorded a cover of The Beatles song “When I’m Sixty-Four” with Grammy Award–winning composer David Arnold for the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the 2008 film Forgetting Sarah Marshall as Aldous Snow, lead singer of the fictional band “Infant Sorrow”.
Brand lives in Hampstead, London, with his cat, which he named after the singer Morrissey, of whom Brand is a big fan.
He has been a vegetarian since the age of 14, and is a fan of football and a supporter of West Ham United; Brand says that his love of football is “intrinsically about my relationship with my father”. He dresses in a flamboyant bohemian fashion, describing himself as looking like an “S&M Willy Wonka”. He has bipolar disorder, and he has suffered from bulimia in the past. He also went through a period of self-harm.
Brand is a former heroin and sex addict and a recovering alcoholic. He has had numerous run-ins with the police, having been arrested 11 times. During the time of his addiction, he was known for his debauchery. Brand was ejected from The Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh, and he infamously introduced his drug dealer to Kylie Minogue during his time at MTV. He has abstained from drug use since 2002 and is now a patron of the addiction charity Focus 12. His abandonment of drugs and alcohol was instigated by his agent, John Noel, after Brand was caught taking heroin in a bathroom during his Christmas party. Brand regularly attends AA and NA meetings.
After a string of high-profile relationships, Brand developed a reputation in the media as a ladies’ man. His dating life won him The Sun’s Shagger Of The Year award in 2006, 2007, and 2008. The award has been renamed “The Russell Brand Shagger Of The Year Award” in honour of Brand having won three years in a row.
In January 2009, Brand and several other celebrities wrote to The Independent (as supporters of the Hoping Foundation) to condemn Israel’s assault on Gaza, and the “cruel and massive loss of life of the citizens of Gaza”.
In February 2009, Brand and several other entertainers wrote to The Times defending Bahá’í leaders then on trial in Iran.
In April 2009 he attended the 2009 G-20 London summit protests and spoke to the press.
In September 2009, Brand was reported to be dating American singer/songwriter Katy Perry. According to reports in November, he said that he is ready to settle down and start a family with her. On 6 January 2010 the pair announced their engagement.
It would have been convenient to be gay. Just because of the grooming, the narcissism, stuff like that. But I have this kind of roaring heterosexuality. Traditional, uncomplicated heterosexuality, an almost clichéd Robin Askwith thing. People have always said, are you gay? I’ve had a lot of that. But it’s just not in me. I really like women a lot; I’m repulsed by men sexually.
In England, we have such good manners that if someone says something impolite, the police will get involved. Christian Bale, I believe whilst in a restaurant, rolled his eyes at the lighting. That is an offense punishable by five years in prison in the United Kingdom. I admire Christian Bale and I think he’s one of the greatest living actors on the planet currently, but we cannot shirk when it comes to good manners. If it’s true that he also dropped a napkin on his way to the lavatory, then I think that he should possibly receive the death penalty.
I’ve always had this impulse to be destructive. I have to say to myself, ‘remember, you’ve got all these things to do – don’t ruin it just for the moment.
It was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors. (On George W. Bush)
It’s no wonder Bob Geldof knows so much about famine – he’s been dining out on I Don’t Like Mondays for 30 years.
We have 30 per cent identical DNA to bananas, 60 per cent identical to earthworms and 98 per cent identical to chimpanzees. How different, then, can we be from each other? (On racism)