Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Russell Brand interview
Forgetting Sarah Marshall has taken the box-office by storm both here in the UK and indeed Stateside. We shackled modern day lothario and British star of the film Russell Brand down to talk about the hit comedy. Mr Brand explains how he got his singing voice, his success in America and how many times he can 'perform' in one night…
LOVEFiLM:, Did you have to take any singing lessons before you started shooting Forgetting Sarah Marshall?
Russell Brand: No that's my singing voice. I trained as an actor for three years at a proper drama school called Drama centre. They teach you music as part of making you an all-rounder; you had to do ballet for your posture and that's not easy when you're drunk. I was drunk every day when I was at drama school and ballet is hard enough without doing it drunk. I also didn't like wearing tights very much…
LF: How do you feel about the campaign to get the song 'Inside of You' from the film to be released into the charts?
RB: It's a difficult thing for me 'cos I am flattered that there are people that would campaign for those things. I just did an Edith Bowman show on Radio 1; and she played it, and then after playing the song she went to the trailer so I wasn't able to say, 'you do realise this is a comedy record! This is not me going right I've decided to express myself through contemporary singing now, also I'm a contemporary dancer; here is my new piece!' It's a laugh. If that song is released and it's all in the spirit of fun like the Chicken Song by Spitting Image then I'll get into it.
LF: How are things going in America?
RB: They are going incredibly well. The film's been really well received; we had a great opening weekend and I got really good reviews on it. My stand up performances are selling out the day they go on sale and we're going to increasingly bigger venues. We're in the Roxy on Sunset Strip at the moment.. People love it and get it much more than I could ever have anticipated.
LF: And how are the American girls?
RB: They seem to be very pleasant. I'm a great believer in the idea of nationhood. Whilst people are characterised by some degree by the places of their birth we are all ultimately a conglomeration of atoms and emotions.
LF: What's Los Angeles like; is it more superficial than the UK?
RB: It's alright. I made a documentary last year about Jack Kerouac. Me and my mate Matt, who I do a radio show with on radio 2, drove from Massachusetts to San Francisco. I was perhaps prejudicially expecting Americans to be dumb but they were lovely. I met these hillbillies, gap-toothed hillbillies, and they talked to me like Naom Chomski; about the erosion of the Federal Reserve, the lack of value of the dollar and the necessity of a revolution. They were itinerant wanderers having being displaced by the New Orleans floods.
So I think we underestimate that country at our peril, because although the anti-culture that has colonised the globe is negative - particularly in the perspective of consumerism - you know it's the country that gave us Bob Dylan, Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor.
LF: Is it impossible not to bump into famous people in LA?
LF: In the same way Americans tend to typify British people; do you think your role in this film will help change American woman's perception of British men?
RB: I think in a way it is quite typical because if you think of the recent cultural iconography you know from the sixties, the Beatles, the Stones, the idea of androgynous rockers; they get that idea now.
LF: But in the film industry surely it's Hugh Grant right?
RB: I suppose High Grant is the most successful contemporary movie star from our country - hopefully this will change that!
LF: As you're making your way into movies now, what are the films that have inspired you?
RB: I really like Elephant Man. It's one of my favourite films because I used to think he was so larcenous, so sentimental and so painfully romantic. The incredible poetry of this man who is beautiful on the inside and ugly on the outside. Sometimes I feel like the elephant man when I'm sort of jostled about like 'go in there now', 'be funny', 'put this on'; I feel like him when he's whirled about. I sort of identified with him. I really like the Monty Python films, The Holy Grail and The Life of Brian. And I really like One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. And I like Amadeus still 'cos he was like that Mozart, he was dirty! Because he's like a genius people are like, 'oh don't, can you be a bit more serious?'; but there are letters of his correspondence to his father where he just talked about the fact that he had a marvellous shit today.
RB: It's not easy to discover that! But then I have met him and he is lovely. You still sort of think awww Macauley Culkin. She's so beautiful Mila Kunis but they really love each other, they are sweet together. You can't stay angry forever 'cos Macauley Culkin is not seven. You've got to let him grow up.
LF: What's the biggest misconception about yourself?
RB: Well I read something today in the Metro where I was going on about sex; and I thought I'm not really actually like that. It's started to get on my own nerves reading about myself talking about sex. It's only because everyone keeps asking about it; I don't just walk into garages and go, 'hello I'll take a Flake and while you're at it I wouldn't mind a blow job'. If you asked me a question exclusively about West Ham United I won't suddenly start talking about peoples balls.
LF: You're quite articulate but that's not always noticed; does that get you down?
RB: Yeah a little bit. It's a culture we've all contributed to. I can scarcely complain because I keep answering the questions. It's interesting 'cos when I was talking to Bobby Gillespie just then, if he doesn't want to answer a question he'll just go, 'oh I'm not really comfortable talking about that'. But I sort of feel an obligation to. I think if people have asked a question I simply have to answer. I think it's because I like being a confessional stand up comedian and rehab and all those things; you just think 'I'll tell people'.
LF: Do you find it hard to keep stuff back?
RB: I do if it's funny. Someone has told me something today that's so funny that it's killing me not being able to tell anybody about it; but you have to respect other peoples privacy don't you. I have such a strong motivation to make people laugh that I'm prepared to overrule almost everything. When I was a drug addict I was prepared to chop bits off my body to make people laugh; it feels quite private but it is quite funny.
LF: In the News of the World there's an article that said that you had sex with a girl six times in one hour?
RB: That's obviously ridiculous. You can't have sex 6 times in an hour; that's preposterous, you'd do yourself a terrible mischief.
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