Russell Brand talks about toning down his bad boy image to work with Disney on Bedtime Stories
We’re a few weeks on from Russell Brand’s BBC phone scandal and he’s still trying to airbrush over the series of lewd phone calls he made to Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs. But no one will let him forget it… the swines.
What better way to clean up his act than by appearing in a Disney movie.
For new movie ‘Bedtime Stories’ bad boy Russell, 33, teamed up with funny man Adam Sandler to play Mickey – the best friend of a storyteller whose tales come to life. Russell says the family friendly jokes are a new concept to him – but he is learning to live with it.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about your character in Bed Time Stories? RB: “Mickey is Adam Sandler’s character – Skeeter’s – best friend and comic foil that enables the character of Skeeter to say stuff like ‘Oh, I’m worried about this girl, what do you think is happening?’ So I serve that function in the plot. And also I’m a comedic Englishman. But that’s not part of the film – that is part of my lifestyle.”
Q: How did you find playing a fully painted robot in the movie? RB: “Yes, being a golden robot, as I was in this film, was difficult because they were very diligent and assiduous, in their makeup job painting even the inside of my mouth golden. All the inside of my lips painted golden. They did all this in spite of what we learned from the film Gold Finger that covering a person’s body in gold paint can lead to death. There was one area of skin that had not been covered in gold paint through which I breathed. I went for a wee at one bit and I was the golden robot doing a wee alone in the trailer and my genitals looked ridiculous. Because there was a pink organic object emerging from C3PO’s torso.
Q: So being a robot wasn’t all it was cracked up to be? RB: “You are forced into quadriplegic acceptance by the intensity of the make up job, imprisoned as it were in a shell of immobility and like once you’re there like that you can’t do anything about it and you have to have all your meals through a straw and I just sat and watched Mike Leigh films in my trailer and then I’d forget what I was doing, because I’d be getting well into Secrets and Lies or something right and then I’d see myself in the mirror and go ‘Ahhh (screams) I’m a golden robot.”
Q: Did you have to rein in your comic leanings? Or is there an X-rated version of this film? RB: “To have an X-rated version of a Disney film may damage the marketing procedures for this main one. I don’t think that’s wise. For me actually the parameters were quite helpful in that it stops you going to your typical comedic go to places. Generally I found it helps while doing comedy to dismiss the first ten thoughts I have in case they lead to a quagmire. So what I’d do is think ‘Oh there’s children here.’ But it’s not mentally hard because obviously in my life I’ve got friends who have got kids and I hang out with kids and stuff like that and with them I don’t think ‘Right, now for some X-rated filth to pass the time.’ I use the usual censorial methods I would use socially. But mainly what’s really good is working with this lot because it’s educational. I loved it and it’s really nice to see myself doing something in a film that’s not all rude.”
Q: How did you find working with Adam Sandler? RB: “I’ve got a really intelligent and risky answer. Here it is. I think Adam Sandler is how America likes to see itself. Like it’s a powerful country, charismatic, attractive, occasionally makes mistakes, George W Bush, but eventually puts them right, Barack Obama.”
Q: Can you talk about the scandal over your radio show with Jonathan Ross – has that all been sorted out now? RB: “You’re referring to it again. (Joking) Make them go outside, (puts on funny voice) you know too much.”
Q: How do American women compare to British women? RB: “I think they’re very beautiful. I mean, I love English women. My mother’s an English woman for heaven’s sake, but yeah, I like American women. I can see what Jimi Hendrix was on about when he said, ‘American Woman, wooooah!'”
Q: What advice could you give us to be as successful with ladies as you? RB: “I think the most important thing is to acknowledge the beauty in others. If you look into people’s eyes and you see the light of a divine force glowing within them, how can you not be compelled to unite with them physically? See the beauty in other people. Everyone inside themselves has a little self doubt. If you help them to overcome that by recognising how beautiful they are, it’s almost impossible for them not to have sex with you.”
Q: Clearly you exude that light. RB: “That’s really kind of you to say so. Yes, I just try to see the beauty in things and people as often as I can. I know that is a challenging way to live your life sometimes, but mostly the world is beautiful and people are beautiful. I do really like cuddling women. I love women.”
Q: Where would you go to escape after a break-up with one of your women? RB: “I can’t ever imagine being so broken hearted that I would leave my bedroom. I would simply wait for someone else to arrive. It’s like a deli counter at my house. You just take a ticket and wait. I just wait for the next number and pray it’s 69.”
Q: Why did you start doing comedy, was it to hide behind the mask of being funny or was it more deep? RB: “Oh it was more deep. Much more deep than that. I was training to be a normal actor at a drama school called Drama Centre where they taught the likes of Paul Bettany and Colin Firth how to do the acting that they now do so well. I was trying my hardest to do serious acting and there were always people who would laugh at that acting. And it started to hurt my feelings so I thought if I could recontextualise this as something that’s supposed to elicit laughter it will be good for my ego. It turns out it was.”
Q: While making the movie, what lengths did you have to go to watch West Ham games and did the Americans understand how important that was to you? RB: “Yeah they did because Sandler is obsessed with sport and like in fact it seemed to be prioritised over making the film if I may be honest. There were these screens everywhere showing basket ball games and football games and stuff like that next to the monitor I was trying my hardest to do my acting on. I go ‘Oh what about that bit of acting was it alright?’ and then someone would go, ‘Oh they’ve just scored a hoop or they’ve done a touchdown’ or something. So they did understand the significance of West Ham United in my life. It was difficult because you have to watch it a lot on the internet but over there some of the sports channels show games on Saturday and that so you can get some.”
Q: When will you make a drama in the United States? RB: “Probably the next time I make a phone call over there. I’m doing the bloody Tempest. That’s dramatic. Shakespeare wrote it. What do you want – jam on it? What do you need you people? Just because it doesn’t have the histrionics of Cristiano Ronaldo you call it a comedy. I don’t know, as soon as someone gives me a chance I’ll be all over it mate. I’d love to do a drama.”
Q: It sounds like a theological thriller? RB: “It is a theological thriller. I need to talk to you about directing this theological thriller. I’ve seen Hairspray and it has the depth and tension that we require.”
Q: What did you learn on this film? RB: “Don’t’ go into some shamanistic trance about the idea of acting. Be aware of what they need in the edit. It was a total education.”
Q: Will films be taking over from stand-up in your career? RB: “I’m already scheduled with films for the next two years and I can do stand up as well in between that.”
Bedtime Stories is at Irish cinemas everywhere now.