Russell Brand - biography
Russell Edward Brand (born 4 June 1975) is an English comedian, actor, columnist, singer, author and radio/television presenter.
Brand achieved mainstream fame in the UK in 2004 for his role as host of Big Brother spin-off, Big Brother's Big Mouth. His first major film role was in the 2007 film St Trinian's. He became known to American audiences when he got a major role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall which led to a starring role in 2010's Get Him to the Greek. He has also been a voice actor for animated films such as 2010's Despicable Me and the 2011 film Hop. He starred in the 2011 remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore film Arthur.
Brand is noted for his eccentricity and his controversies in the British media, including his dismissal from MTV for dressing up as Osama bin Laden and controversies while presenting at various award ceremonies, as well as his former substance abuse. The 2008 prank telephone calls he made to Andrew Sachs while co-hosting The Russell Brand Show with Jonathan Ross led to his resignation from the BBC and major policy changes in that organisation. His prior drug use, alcoholism and promiscuity influenced his comedic material and public image. He married American pop singer Katy Perry in October 2010, and filed for divorce from her in December 2011; the divorce was finalised in 2012.
Brand was born in Orsett Hospital, Grays, Essex, England, the only child of Barbara Elizabeth (née Nichols) and photographer Ronald Henry Brand. Brand's parents separated when he was six months old, and he was raised by his mother; he has described his childhood as isolated and lonely. When Brand was seven, he was sexually abused by a tutor. When Brand was eight, his mother contracted uterine cancer; a year later she contracted breast cancer. Brand stayed with relatives while his mother underwent treatment. When Brand was 14, he suffered from bulimia nervosa. He left home at age 16 because of differences with his mother's live-in partner. His mother had lymphoma during this time and he began using illegal drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines, LSD and ecstasy. According to an interview on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Saturday Brand had "a strange relationship with his father, whom he saw sporadically and who took him to visit prostitutes during a trip to the Far East". After Brand's parents divorced, his father remarried twice.
Brand attended Grays School Media Arts College, a comprehensive. He made his theatrical debut at the age of 15, playing the role of Fat Sam in a school production of Bugsy Malone, which prompted him to become an actor. He began working as an extra, and applied to study at the Italia Conti Academy. He was accepted, and Essex council funded his tuition for an introductory year, with potential funding for three additional years. Brand joined the Academy in 1991, but was expelled during his introductory year for his bad behaviour and use of drugs. Afterward, Brand had small acting roles in children's show Mud and police drama The Bill.
In 1995, Brand applied for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Drama Centre London and was accepted to Drama Centre. He was expelled in the final term of his last year for smashing a glass over his head and then stabbing himself in the chest and arms after his hearing a criticism of his performance. After leaving Drama Centre, Brand decided to focus on comedy, and began writing material with Karl Theobald.
Brand's first significant stand-up appearance was at the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year final in 2000. Although he finished fourth, his performance attracted the attention of an agent, Nigel Klarfeld of Gagged and Bound Comedy Ltd. That year, he also made his Edinburgh debut as one-third of the stand-up show Pablo Diablo's Cryptic Triptych, alongside ventriloquist Mark Felgate and Anglo-Iranian comic Shappi Khorsandi.
In 2004, he took his first one-man show, the confessional Better Now to the Edinburgh Festival, giving an honest account of his heroin addiction. He returned the following year with Eroticised Humour. He launched his first nationwide tour, Shame, in 2006. Brand drew on embarrassing incidents in his own life and the tabloid press's treatment of him since he became famous. The show was released on DVD as Russell Brand: Live.
Brand appeared in a sketch and performed stand-up at the 2006 Secret Policeman's Ball. In March 2007, he co-hosted an evening of the Teenage Cancer Trust gigs with Noel Fielding. In December 2007, Brand performed for HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip as an act in the 2007 Royal Variety Performance.
His second nationwide tour, in 2007, was called Russell Brand: Only Joking and released on DVD as Russell Brand: Doin' Life.
Brand began performing in the US, and recorded a special for Comedy Central titled Russell Brand in New York, which aired in March 2009. Brand began touring the UK, America and Australia from January to April 2009 on a tour called Russell Brand: Scandalous. In October, a further four dates that were performed in November were added to raise money for Focus 12, the drug charity for which Brand is a patron. Russell Brand: Scandalous was released on DVD on 9 November 2009.
Brand's first presenting role came in 2000 as a video journalist on MTV. He presented Dancefloor Chart, touring nightclubs in Britain and Ibiza, and hosted the tea-time request show Select. However, Brand was fired after coming to work dressed as Osama bin Laden the day after the 11 September 2001 attacks and bringing his drug dealer to the MTV studios.
After leaving MTV, Brand starred in RE:Brand, a British documentary and comedy television programme that aimed to take a challenging look at cultural taboos. It was conceived, written, and hosted by Brand, with the help of his comic partner on many projects, Matt Morgan. The series was shown on the now-defunct digital satellite channel UK Play in 2002.
In 2004, he hosted Big Brother's Eforum on E4, a sister show to Big Brother 5. The show gave celebrity guests and the public the chance to have their say on the goings-on inside the Big Brother house. For Big Brother 6, the show's name changed to Big Brother's Big Mouth. Following Celebrity Big Brother 5, Brand said he would not return to host the Big Brother 8 series of Big Brother's Big Mouth. In a statement, Brand thanked all the producers for "taking the risk of employing an ex-junkie twerp" to front the show. Of his time presenting the show, he said, "The three years I've spent on Big Brother's Big Mouth have been an unprecedented joy".
Brand hosted a one-off special called Big Brother According to Russell Brand, in which Brand took a surreal, sideways look at Big Brother through the ages. On 8 January 2008, Brand was the fifth celebrity to "hijack" the Big Brother house, in the E4 show Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack. Brand next returned to MTV in the spring of 2006 as presenter of the chat show 1 Leicester Square, which initially aired at 8 pm on Sundays before being shifted to a post-watershed time of 10 pm on Mondays, allowing for a more adult-oriented theme. Guests have included Tom Cruise, Uma Thurman, The Mighty Boosh, and Boy George. A second series began in September 2006 on MTV UK. After Big Brother 7 finished, Brand presented a debate show called Russell Brand's Got Issues, on digital channel E4. The viewing figures for the first episode were seen as disappointing, being beaten by nearly all of E4's main multi-channel rivals despite a big publicity and promotional campaign for the show. The poor ratings prompted the network to repackage the show as The Russell Brand Show and move it to Channel 4. The first episode was broadcast on 24 November on Channel 4, and it ran for five weeks.
Brand presented the 2006 NME Awards. At the ceremony Bob Geldof, who was accepting an award from Brand, said at the podium, "Russell Brand – what a cunt", to which Brand replied, "Really it's no surprise [Geldof]'s such an expert on famine. He has after all been dining out on 'I Don't Like Mondays' for 30 years". Brand hosted the 2007 BRIT Awards and presented Oasis with an "Outstanding Contribution to Music" award at the event. He also hosted one hour of Comic Relief. On 7 July 2007, he presented at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, London.
On 12 December 2007, BBC Four aired Russell Brand On the Road, a documentary presented by Brand and Matt Morgan about the writer Jack Kerouac and his novel On the Road. Brand returned to Channel 4 to host Russell Brand's Ponderland, in which he discussed topics like childhood and science through stand-up comedy. The show first aired on 22 October 2007, and continued for the next five nights. A second series began on 30 October 2008, drawing more than a million viewers, and was broadcast every Thursday night for four weeks, plus a Christmas special that aired in December.
Brand was later announced as the host of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, which drew scepticism from the American media, as he was relatively unknown to the American public. Brand's stint as host of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards was not without controversy. At one point, he said the night "marked the launch of a very new Britney Spears era", referring to it as "the resurrection of [Spears]". He also said, "If there was a female Christ, it's Britney". Brand implored the audience to elect Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and later called then–U.S. President George W. Bush "a retarded cowboy fella", who, in England, "wouldn't be trusted with scissors". He made several references to the purity rings worn by the Jonas Brothers, but apologised for the comments later in the show. These comments led to Brand receiving death threats by some offended viewers. Brand claimed that MTV asked him to host the 2009 awards after the ratings for the 2008 show were 20% up from the previous year. Also in 2008 Brand hosted a one off stand up comedy show called Comedy Live Presents: Russell Brand and Friends shown on Channel 4 on 25 January 2008. Brand hosted the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on 13 September 2009, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The ratings for the 2009 show were the best since the 2004 VMAs. On February 12, 2011, Brand guest hosted an episode of the hit American sketch comedy Saturday Night Live.
In 2002, Brand appeared on the TV shows Cruise of the Gods and White Teeth. In 2005, he played Tommy in the BBC sitcom Blessed, which was written and directed by Young Ones creator Ben Elton. Brand auditioned for the part of Super Hans in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show; the role eventually went to Matt King.
In 2007, Brand appeared in Cold Blood for ITV, playing an ex-con called Ally. Brand