Any opportunity to hear Russell Brand talk is worthwhile. He’s so sharp he packs intelligent wit into seemingly random rants. At the press conference for Arthur, he was a little more PG-13 than usual, but still pure Russell Brand.
When Russell Brand gets caught between the moon and New York City…
Russell Brand:The best thing you can do is fall in love. That’s why this film resonated so strongly with me, and why I’m so happy with it. My life has been changed by falling in love. I know that, whilst that is a romantic idea and, in this case, fictional, it’s something that’s happened to me. That’s why I’m so enamored of this story. I love the original movie. Dudley Moore is a great hero of mine. To be able to recreate that film, with such a talented ensemble of people, was an incredible gift, as it was to work with the Oscar-winning, wonderful actress Helen Mirren, a brilliant director like Jason Winer, for whom this is the first of what will become a great career of excellent movies, who accommodated my improvisation, but told the story so wonderfully well, visually. It’s almost a trite cliche to hear, “We used the city as another character in the movie,” but if you watch this film, the city is truly present. It makes Manhattan seem like a magical fairy story. Greta [Gerwig] wonderfully brought to life a different aspect of the character’s trajectory, with her experience in independent films. She gave a more naturalistic and gentle performance that spoke to the child in Arthur. And, Peter Baynham is as much a comedic hero to me as Dudley Moore. He’s one of the great comedy writers of the last 30 years, with Alan Partridge, Bruno and Borat. It was a great honor to work on this film.
The best that Russell can do is Katy Perry!
Russell Brand:Like in Arthur, love has an incredibly transformative quality. The first thing you do when you fall in love is that you recognize that you’re not the most important person in the world, and your focus becomes another person. The reason the film resonated with me, in the way that it does, is because Arthur is a person without direction, until he falls in love.
The part he was born to play:
Russell Brand:I am such a thorough actor that I did two decades of research into alcoholism, just to make sure it was 100% right. The difference, of course, is that Arthur is a fictional alcoholic and has much more latitude for clowning and fun, and often his adventures don’t lead to broken glass and howling women, although he is arrested at the beginning of the film. It was very important that we established a context where the alcoholism was humorous and good fun, but was not irresponsibly portrayed. This is 2011, and it’s important to see a resolution to the problem of Arthur’s alcoholism. As a recovering alcoholic myself, I was particularly happy with how that was rendered.
This time, Russell Brand was in charge:
Russell Brand:As a producer, you’ve got to be involved in helping out with solving problems. Warner Bros. brought me this idea, very, very early on. They said, “Would you be interested in remaking Arthur?” And I said, “Yeah,” because I really, really love Dudley Moore. But then, I thought, “Is this ever really going to happen?” I didn’t really imagine it would. They asked, “Who would you like to write it?” I said, “Peter Baynham because he’s a great hero of mine.” And then, we talked about directors and I was already a fan of Jason’s show, Modern Family. I thought, “My god, because of his visual style and his understanding of comedy, he will be able to make this relevant and pertinent whilst maintaining the traditional aesthetic of the storyline.” That was exciting. Then, when Peter had the idea of making Hobson female and we immediately thought of Helen Mirren, for me, that was the idea that made the film feasible. That was the idea that meant, “Oh, this will actually happen.” And, I’m so grateful that it did because I had a wonderful opportunity to work with such incredible people.
Russell Brand bares all in Arthur, down to his tighty whities:
Russell Brand:I felt very shy and embarrassed about it, as a matter of fact. But, they were such lovely underpants. They were custom made.
Russell Brand on the economic crisis:
Russell Brand:Arthur has everything. He has all the money in the world, and yet he is lonely and unhappy. I grew up poor. I didn’t have money, and now I have some money. The greatest poverty one can have is to be poor in one’s heart. After falling in love, Arthur is truly happy. He discovers purpose. All of us know that money is transient and its pleasures are illusory. The happiest moments in our lives are not, “Oh, I got a new hat, or a wonderful, silvery object, or some glistening bauble.” It’s when you connect with another human being. If you can find the $18 in your pocket, you are purchasing dreams with that money! Plus, you can watch our movie, and then sneak in and watch another one, but pay for our movie.
Bat nipples get a redemption with Russell Brand:
Russell Brand:I enjoyed wearing the suit because it had Clooney musk in it. It had the pheromones of George Clooney, and I like to think that I may have absorbed them. I’m certainly feeling a lot more altruistic. If anybody needs any help with anything, I’m prepared to help. The actual car is not as interesting in the interior. It’s like a reverse metaphor for the nature of the human soul. The inside is boring. And, it was a bit scruffy in there. I was in there with Luis Guzman, who is a brilliant actor, but he says unusual stuff. I would be in that Batmobile with him and he’d say, “Imagine if, when the roof of the Batmobile opens, we’re not on the set anymore and we’ve gone back to caveman days,” and then I’d hear, “Action!,” and I’d be like, “Huh?! What?!” It would be like ideological farts in the car, and bizarre notions for me to contend with.