A Minute With: Russell Brand on stand-up to acting

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Russell Brand got a quick ascension to Hollywood when he was forced to quit his gig as a BBC radio host after taking part in lewd prank calls to “Fawlty Towers” actor Andrew Sachs.

Cast member Russell Brand is interviewed at the premiere of "Get Him to the Greek" at the Greek theatre in Los Angeles May 25, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The outrageous British comedian was then widely praised for his small role in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and now he is getting more acclaim in his first major starring role in “Get Him to the Greek” in which he reprises his role as hedonistic British pop star Aldous Snow.

Soon he will appear in “The Tempest” and he plans to marry singer Katy Perry. He spoke to Reuters about acting, stand-up, life in the tabloids and what he now thinks of the BBC.

Q. You are known for your outrageous antics and not really toeing the line. Can acting get a bit boring compared to the freedom of stand-up?

A. “It is a bit. You are right. I prefer to do stand-up where I can just make it up as I go. If I suddenly want to do stand-up, I think, ‘I will just say this now’. Just say a load of stuff about something I just thought or something I saw earlier that day. Often those things are either inappropriate or controversial or sometimes illegal. So it can be problematic but at least it’s fun. Acting, I love it, but it’s a much more strategic and disciplined way of working and it’s much more collaborative.”

Q. Do they restrain you on set?

A. “They have to a bit, but they do also encourage me. They are always going, ‘Go on Russell, say something.’ And I do, and they go ‘Alright that’s enough now, that’s disgusting.’”

Q. The film sends up being in the tabloids, a bit like your own life?

A. “Yes, this relentless, pointless, soulless scrutiny. I wouldn’t mind if it was scrutiny from the perspective if it was Michel Foucault, analyzing me in order to advance the species but when its just the humdrum cyclical analysis of goons ...”

Q. Then why date Katy Perry, someone so famous bound to attract the paparazzi?

“I am in love with her. Otherwise I wouldn’t, for any other reason. I just met someone, first time, I mean, I just love her. The element, the fame and all that all is utterly irrelevant when you are at home. No man is a hero to his valet, no woman famous to her boyfriend, she is just a pain in the arse, like all women.”

Q. Still plans to marry?

A. “Yes of course, you can’t just then not get married ... I am going to get married this year.”

Q. To answer a public perception of your antics, how much of an attention seeker are you?

A. “I think that is a fair comment, if you don’t seek attention and you stood on stage in front of 20,000 people, the show is going to lack pace. You need to cull people’s attention. You gotta. But I am at a different point now. I feel like I have got the attention, now I just want to do something with it.”

Q. What drives you now then?

A. “I think there is divinity in people and within myself I want, through solitude and reflection, to uncover the lost pearl of humanity that gets all scarred and veiled by the stupidity of contemporary culture, or much of it not all of it.”

Q. Lastly, on the BBC, will you return to do Jonathan Ross’ final show?

A. “I have spoken to him a few times but you know what it is like scheduling those things. I am not sure ... If Jonathan asks me, I’ll do it.”

Q. What do you think of the BBC these days?

A. “The BBC is an incredible institution and I am really proud to have worked with the BBC and I love it and I think it is very sad that it has been slowly dismantled by the objectives of the privately owned media. I think it’s a travesty.”

Q. Are you still over your addictions?

A. “Yes one day at a time, I don’t know if you are ever over addiction. That’s the nature of it, but today I have been very well behaved.”

Q. How far is too far?

A. “There are no boundaries and no lines, I think when people accuse me of crossing the line I think those lines were drawn in retrospectively. To make me look naughty. I think just ‘Do what thou will’.

Editing by Patricia Reaney