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Bedtime Stories - Russell Brand interview

Russell Brand in Bedtime Stories

Interview by Rob Carnevale

RUSSELL Brand talks about appearing in Disney family movie Bedtime Stories alongside Adam Sandler, reigning in his ruder tendencies, coping with having a wee in a suit of gold and some of his forthcoming projects…

Q. This was your chance to have a Star Wars moment. But I believe becoming a robot created a few personal problems when it came to spending a penny?
Russell Brand: Yes, being a golden robot, as I was in this film, was difficult because they were very diligent in their make-up job. They painted even the inside of my mouth golden, including the inside of my lips. And that’s in spite of what we learned from the film Goldfinger that covering a person’s body in gold paint can lead to death!

But there was one area of skin that wasn’t covered in gold paint and I went for a wee and there I was, this golden robot doing a wee alone in a trailer and my genitals looked ridiculous. There was a pink organic object emerging from C3PO’s torso! I was forced into quadriplegic acceptance by the intensity of the make-up job. I was imprisoned, as it were, in a shell of immobility. I had to have meals through a straw and sat and watched Mike Leigh films in my trailer. But then I’d forget what I was doing, because I’d get well into Secrets & Lies or something, and then I’d see myself in the mirror and go: “Aaagh [screams]!”

Q. Presumably you both had to reign in your more adult leanings. So how difficult was that and is there an X-rated version of Bedtime Stories?
Russell Brand: That would be inappropriate to have an X-rated version of a Disney film! It may damage the marketing procedures for this, the main one. [Shouts aloud] “We’re simultaneously launching this X-rated version…”; “I don’t think that’s right!”; “No, come on, get behind it!”

For me, actually, the parameters were quite helpful in that it stops you going to your typical comedic go-to places. Generally, I’ve found it helped while doing this comedy to dismiss the first 10 thoughts that I had in case they led me to a quagmire. So, what I’d do is think: “There’s children here.” But it’s not mentally hard because, obviously in my life, I have friends that have kids and hang out with kids, and with them I don’t think, “right, now for some X-rated filth”, to pass the time! I use the usual methods I’d use socially. But the best thing about Bedtime Stories was getting to work with people like Adam Sandler. I loved it really. And it’s really nice to see myself doing something in a film that’s not all rude.

Q. What’s your take on the power of comedy and why did you start doing stand-up? Was it to hide behind the mask of the funnyman, or something more deep?
Russell Brand: It’s more deep [laughs]. I was training to be a normal actor, at a 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 but people would always laugh at that acting. It started to hurt my feelings. But I thought that if I could re-contextualize this and do something that’s supposed to provoke laughter, it would be good for my ego. So, that’s how it was.

Q. What lengths did you have to go to in order to catch West Ham games while making Bedtime Stories?
Russell Brand: Well, Sandler is obsessed with sport and, in fact, it seemed to be prioritised over making the film if I’m being honest. There were screens everywhere showing basketball, football and stuff like that next to the monitor that I’m trying my hardest to be doing my acting on! I’d say: “What about that bit of acting? Was it alright?” And someone else would say: “They’ve just scored a hoop or a touch down.” So, they did understand the significance of West Ham United in my life. I watched a lot on the Internet, but over there some of the channels show games on a Saturday. I also have Sky Plus.

But in terms of understanding sport, that was one of the things that made me feel very comfortable in that environment and enhanced my masculinity. It was like [puts on posh English accent]: “Sport hey? I like sport too. We’re not so different are we? Give us a cuddle! Give us a movie!”

In fact, my next movie is being produced by Adam Sandler and Happy Madison. I’ve got to make two in between now and then – hey, who’s bragging. I’ve got to do The Tempest and the thing with Judd Apatow, but then I’ve got Bad Father, produced by Adam and his company, where I play a conman posing as a priest in a small American town to get away from gangsters.

Q. When will you make a dramatic role in the United States?
Russell Brand: Probably the next time I make a phone call! But The Tempest is fairly dramatic… Shakespeare wrote it! If someone gives me a chance, I’ll be all over it, mate.

Read our review of Bedtime Stories