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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Who is Russell Brand?

Who is Russell Edward Brand? The Comedy and entertainment world knows him as Russell Brand, he is an English comedian, actor, columnist, singer, author and radio/television presenter.
Brand's childhood and early adulthood were marked with personal misfortune and addiction. After successfully exiting rehab, Brand achieved fame in the UK in 2003 for his Big Brother spin-off, Big Brother's Big Mouth. Although he had previously acted in movies and television, his first major role was in the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall which led to a starring role in 2010's Get Him to the Greek. He has also been a voice actor for animated films such as 2010's Despicable Me and the 2011 film Hop. He starred in the 2011 remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore film Arthur.
Brand is noted for his eccentricity and his controversies in the British media, including his dismissal from MTV for dressing up as Osama Bin Laden and controversies while presenting at various award ceremonies. The 2008 prank telephone calls he made to Andrew Sachs while co-hosting The Russell Brand Show with Jonathan Ross led to his resignation from the BBC and major policy changes in that organisation. His prior drug use and promiscuity influenced his comedic material and public image. He married American pop singer Katy Perry in October 2010.[4]

Early life

Brand was born June 4, 1975, in Orsett Hospital, Grays, Essex, England, the only child of Barbara Elizabeth and photographer Ronald Henry Brand.[5] Brand's parents separated when he was six months old, and he was raised by his mother; he has described his childhood as isolated and lonely.[6] When Brand was seven, he was sexually abused by a tutor.[7] When Brand was eight, his mother contracted uterine cancer; a year later she contracted breast cancer.[8] Brand stayed with relatives while his mother underwent treatment.[8] When Brand was 14, he suffered from bulimia nervosa. He left home at age 16 because of differences with his mother's live-in partner.[8] His mother had lymphoma during this time and he began using recreational drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines, LSD and ecstasy[8][9] Brand said during an interview on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Saturday that he had "a strange relationship with his father, whom he saw sporadically and who took him to visit prostitutes during a trip to the Far East".[10] After Brand's parents divorced, his father remarried twice.[11] Later, he also began using cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin. 

Brand attended Grays School Media Arts College, a comprehensive. He made his theatrical debut at the age of 15, playing the role of 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, but was expelled during his introductory year for his bad behaviour and use of drugs. Afterward, Brand had small acting roles in children's show Mud and police dramaThe Bill.
In 1995, Brand applied for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Drama Centre London and was accepted to Drama Centre. 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 after his hearing a criticism of his performance. After leaving Drama Centre, Brand decided to focus on comedy, and began writing material with Karl Theobald. They formed a short-lived double act, Theobald and Brand on Ice.

Career

Stand-up

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.[12] 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.
Secret Policeman's Ball
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.
Brand began performing in the US, and recorded a special for Comedy Central titled Russell Brand in New York, which aired in March 2009.[13] Brand began touring the UK, America and Australia from January to April 2009 on a tour called Russell Brand: Scandalous.[14] 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.[15] Russell Brand: Scandalous was released on DVD on 9 November 2009.

Presenting

Brand's first presenting role came in 2000 as a video journalist on the MTV. He presented Dancefloor Chart, touring nightclubs in Britain and Ibiza, and hosted the tea-time request show Select. However, Brand was fired after coming to work dressed as Osama bin Laden the day after the 11 September 2001 attacks and bringing his drug dealer to the MTV studios.[16]
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".[17]
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,[18] 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 pm on Sundays before being shifted to a post-watershed time of 10 pm 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.[19] The first episode was broadcast on 24 November on Channel 4,[20] and it ran for five weeks.
Brand presented the 2006 NME Awards. At the ceremony Bob Geldof, who was accepting an award from Brand, said at the podium, "Russell Brand – what 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".[21] Brand hosted the 2007 BRIT Awards and presented Oasis with an "Outstanding Contribution to Music" award at the event.[22] 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. 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.
2008 MTV Awards
Brand was later announced as the host of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, which drew scepticism 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.[23] 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".[24] 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".[24][25] He made several references to the purity rings worn by the Jonas Brothers, but apologised for the comments later in the show.[26] These comments led to Brand receiving death threats by some offended viewers.[27] 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.[28]. Also in 2008 Brand hosted a one off stand up comedy show called Comedy Live Presents: Russell Brand and Friends shown on Channel 4 on 25 January 2008. Brand hosted the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on 13 September 2009, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.[29][30] The ratings for the 2009 show were the best since the 2004 VMAs.[31] In 2011, Brand guest hosted an episode of the hit American sketch comedy Saturday Night Live.

Acting

In 2002, Brand appeared on the TV shows Cruise of the Gods 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 favour of Matt King.[32]
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.[33]
He voiced the Earth Guardian in Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind.
Russel Brand as Flash Harry in St Trinian's
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.
Russel Brand and Kristen Bell in Forgetting Sarah Marshall
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 rockstar because of his audition.[34]
Brand starred alongside Adam Sandler in the Disney film Bedtime Stories, which was released on Christmas Day 2008.[35]
He reprised the role of Aldous Snow for a buddy comedy titled Get Him to the Greek, co-starring Jonah Hill.[36] He reunited with Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller and producer Judd Apatow for the film.[37]
Brand had a role in Julie Taymor's version of William Shakespeare's The Tempest, as Trinculo.[38][39][40]
In 2010, Brand voiced Dr. Nefario in the Universal movie Despicable Me,[41] and guest starred in The Simpsons episode "Angry Dad: The Movie" as himself. Brand also starred in the 2011 live action/CGI animated film Hop, in which he voiced the film's main protagonist E.B. Hop opened at number one at the Friday box office in the US, earning $11.4 million.[42] The same month, April 2011, he played the title character in a remake of Arthur,[43] written by Peter Baynham.
Brand is set to star as Lonny in a movie adaption of 80s musical Rock Of Ages, which is to be released in cinemas in June 2012. His other upcoming projects include a remake of Drop Dead Fred.[44] Brand will also appear in an Oliver Stone film.[45] 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.[46][47] and he is also set to star as Fred Mumford in a movie adaption of the hit 70s programme Rentaghost.

Radio

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.[48]
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 – 11pm. The show regularly drew about 400,000 listeners.[49] 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 actor Andrew Sachs that crudely discussed Sachs' 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,[50] and Brand resigned from his show.[51][52] The BBC was later fined £150,000 by Britain's broadcast regulator for airing the calls.[53]
Brand returned to radio when he and Noel Gallagher hosted a football talk show on 19 April 2009 for talkSPORT which led to a 250% boost in web traffic.[54][55]
Brand returned to talkSPORT in 9 October 2010, with a Saturday night show that will last 20 weeks. The show will feature clips and back-stage recordings from his Booky Wook 2 promotional tour. Brand will be joined by a host of guests, including the likes of Noel Gallagher and Jonathan Ross.[56]

Writings

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.[57] 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.[58]
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".[59]
Brand signed a £1.8 million two-book deal with HarperCollins in June 2008. The first book was Articles of Faith, with the second being Booky Wook 2: This Time It's Personal released on 30 September 2010.[60][61]

Music

Brand recorded a cover of The Beatles song "When I'm Sixty-Four" with 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 in which he appeared as Aldous Snow, lead singer of the fictional band Infant Sorrow.[62] He reprised his role as Aldous Snow in Get Him to the Greek and recorded sixteen songs for the soundtrack.
Brand appeared on the 2010 version of 3 Lions alongside Robbie Williams.[63]

Personal life


Brand lives in Los Angeles.[64] He had been a vegetarian since the age of 14,[65] and became a vegan on October 24, 2011.[66] PETA named him 2011's Sexiest Vegetarian.[67] He dresses in a flamboyant bohemian fashion, describing himself as looking like an "S&M Willy Wonka".[68] He has bipolar disorder,[69] has suffered from bulimia,[65] and also went through a period of self-harming.[70] Brand has shown interest in the Hare Krishna Movement and chants the Hare Krishna mantra for drug rehabilitation.[71] During an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on her show in October 2010, Brand talked about his love of Transcendental Meditation.[72][73]

Relationships

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,[74] 2007,[75] 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.[76]
Brand first met American singer/songwriter Katy Perry in summer 2009 when Perry filmed a cameo for Brand's film Get Him to the Greek (although the cameo did not make it into the final cut of the film).[77] Brand and Perry began dating after meeting again several months later in September 2009[78] at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, where Brand, as host, remarked "Katy Perry didn't win an award and she's staying at the same hotel as me, so she's gonna need a shoulder to cry on. So in a way, I'm the real winner tonight." Perry says she threw a bottle of water at Brand to get his attention and then they went clubbing together the same night.[79] The couple became engaged in December 2009 when Brand proposed to Perry while on a holiday in India.[80][81][82] The couple married on 23 October 2010 in a traditional Hindu ceremony, near the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan, India, the same location where Brand proposed.[83][84] After 14 months of marriage, Brand filed for divorce from Perry on 30 December 2011 in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences.[85][86] After Brand and Perry reached an agreement on financial issues, a judge granted the divorce request in February 2012; however the divorce will not become effective until July 2012 due to California law requiring a six-month wait.[87]

Substance abuse and legal issues

Brand is a former heroin and sex addict and a recovering alcoholic. He has had numerous run-ins with the police, having been arrested 12 times.[89][90] During the time of his addiction, he was known for his debauchery. Brand was ejected from The Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh,[91] and he infamously introduced his drug dealer to Kylie Minogue during his time at MTV.[92] He has abstained from drug use since 2002 and is now a patron of the addiction charity Focus 12.[93] 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.[94] Brand regularly attends AA and NA meetings[95] and cites his practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique as a significant factor in his recovery from drug addiction.[96]
On 16 September 2010, Brand was arrested on suspected battery charges after he allegedly attacked a paparazzo who blocked his and Perry's way to catch a flight at the Los Angeles International Airport.[97][98] On 17 September 2010, he was released from custody after posting $20,000 bail. Footage of the incident was later sent to TMZ.[99] Perry later defended Brand's actions, and offered an insight into the reasons for his outburst, posting on Twitter that, "If you cross the line & try and put a lens up my dress, my fiancé will do his job & protect me."
Also according to Katy Perry's Twitter timeline, Brand was deported from Japan on Sunday 22 May 2011. Perry's tweet included the hashtag #tokyodreamscrushed[101] The story was later picked up by the media.[89]

Filmography

Film credits
Title↓ Year↓ Role↓ Notes
St Trinian's 2007 Flash Harry
Penelope 2008 Sam
Forgetting Sarah Marshall 2008 Aldous Snow
Bedtime Stories 2008 Mickey
Get Him to the Greek 2010 Aldous Snow
Despicable Me 2010 Dr. Nefario Voice
The Tempest 2010 Trinculo
Hop 2011 E.B./"Hoff Knows Talent" Production Assistant Voice/Live-action
Arthur 2011 Arthur Bach
Rock of Ages 2012 Lonny Barnett

Awards

Awards
Award↓ Award category↓ Year↓ Result↓
Time Out Best Stand-Up 2006 Won[102]
Loaded Laftas Best Stand-Up 2006 Won[103]
British Comedy Awards Best Newcomer 2006 Won[104]
33rd Annual Television and Radio Awards Best Television Performer in a Non-Acting Role 2007 Won[105]
Channel 4 100 Greatest Stand-Ups 2007 69th[106]
British Comedy Awards Best Live Stand-Up 2008 Won[107]
British Comedy Awards Outstanding Contribution to Comedy 2011 Won[108]

 

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