Russell Brand has led a life that has often been controversial, at times he’s been self-destructive and at others highly entertaining. The comedian, writer and actor has battled his own personal demons, beaten drug-addiction and given his uncompromising opinion on weighty political issues – always with his unique and flamboyant style, but now in 2017 as Russell edges into middle-age and with his first child born late in 2016 has the former sex-addict and controversial comic who has never been afraid to say what he thinks finally mellowed with age? Read on to see what the witty word-smith is up to now in 2017.
Russell Brand’s Early Life and Childhood
Russell Edward Brand was born June 4th 1975 in Grays, a medium sized town twenty five miles east of London, England. His childhood was not particularly settled, his father Ronald a photographer split up with his mom Barbara and left the family home when Russell was only 6 months old. Barbara brought Russell up alone but contracted uterus cancer when he was just eight years old, the following year she also contracted breast cancer. Russell was sent to live with relatives while his mom battled her illness and his unsettled upbringing soon caused his own health to suffer.
When Russell was fourteen he was diagnosed as suffering from the eating disorder Bulimia, but he also had psychological problems at school, often seeking attention through ill-thought out stunts such as eating ants and causing disruption in classes. One teacher described him as a ‘waste of space’ and he frequently got into trouble for causing disturbances in class. At school he also took part in a production of Bugsy Malone and it was then that he began to dream of taking up acting as a career.
Russell Brand’s Struggle with Drug Addiction
Russell left home aged just sixteen and moved to London where he began studying at the Italia Conti stage academy. His enthusiasm for performing and his naturally extrovert personality impressed his teachers, but during that time he also began to take a variety of drugs on a regular basis, his commitment to studying soon suffered and he was expelled from the academy after one year for poor attendance and being caught on the premises with illegal substances. By his own admission he was emotionally disturbed at the time, his growing addiction to several different drugs saw him smashing up academy property and frequently breaking down in tears, as well as a growing habit of self-harm.
The next decade was the darkest period in Russell’s life. Until he was in his late twenties he suffered from addictions to alcohol, marijuana, crack cocaine and even heroin, he couldn’t hold a job down and meaningful relationships were impossible due to his emotional state. Russell was able to win a few small parts in TV shows and managed to at least keep his addictions under a degree of control, but he was far from being clean.
Russell Brand’s Career in TV, Comedy and Film
Eventually Russell moved into stand-up comedy where he soon found a degree of success. In 2000 he was hired by MTV as a presenter, he conducted interviews on the dance-floor with clubbers, often more intoxicated than they were, but he was at least working regularly and his exuberant personality worked well in the slot. Unfortunately Russell’s lack of judgement due to his addictions soon caused that opportunity to be lost too, he upset MTV bosses by inviting his drug dealer into the studios but the final straw came in 2001 when he arrived at work dressed as Osama Bin Laden, just one day after the September 11th attacks.
He took another job at a small cable channel presenting ‘Re:Brand’, a documentary series with a comic slant that looked at cultural taboos, the audience was small but Russell’s charisma as a presenter was undeniable, even while he was still heavily addicted to drugs. In 2004 Russell’s agent managed to persuade him to enter rehab and he became drug-free for the first time in his life, his appearance improved, his already charismatic personality became even more engaging and witty, and later that year he landed his first big break.
Russell began presenting ‘Big Brothers Big Mouth’, a satellite show to the UK version of Big Brother on a terrestrial British TV channel. For the first time a mainstream audience of millions experienced Russell Brand doing what he does best, in his own words ‘Being silly and messing about’, and while the show was full of bizarre characters and Russell’s trademark richly-worded humor, the eccentric and unusual Russell made the show a bigger pull for viewers than it would have been otherwise, and he ended up fronting the show for three seasons of Big Brother. Other TV appearances showcasing his stand-up comedy increased his popularity and in 2006 he returned to MTV to present a chat show, ‘1 Leicester Square’. In 2007 Russell wrote a best selling autobiography entitled ‘My Booky Wooky’ detailing his struggle against addiction, literary critics panned it as ‘unreadable’ and badly written but readers loved it and copies flew off the shelves.
Since 2006 Russell had also been working regularly in his own show on BBC radio but in 2008 he received a large amount of negative press attention in the UK for an on-air prank where he made several obscene phone calls to veteran British actor Andrew Sachs, who had starred in John Cleese’s comedy sitcom ‘Fawlty Towers’ in the 1970’s. A media storm blew up and Russell was forced to resign, but his next appearance would cause even more controversy across the Atlantic.
Russell Brand’s controversial début in America
In 2008 Russell was given the job of hosting the MTV Video Music Awards, which surprised everyone as he was virtually unknown in America at the time. In a typical display of extrovert behaviour he was determined to ensure that he made some sort of memorable impression, and in that at least he succeeded magnificently. In a much criticized display of outrageous comments in front of an audience that had never heard of him he compared Britney Spears to Jesus Christ, referred to then President Bush as ‘a retarded cowboy’ and mocked the Jonas Brothers for their decision to wear purity rings. Unsurprisingly the outrage from some viewers was extreme, Russell received death threats and was compelled to apologize, but viewing figures were up by 20% and he was quickly invited to return to host the awards the following year.
In the same year Russell improved his profile in the United States for his performance in the hit romantic comedy ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ starring Kristen Bell and Jason Segel. The film was a big box-office success, it received critical acclaim for strong performances from all of the cast and it was congratulated for its witty humor. It eventually took over $100 million at the box office and was hugely successful in subsequent DVD and Blu-Ray sales.
Russell’s Brand’s Marriage to Katy Perry
In 2009 filming began on ‘Get Him to the Greek’, a sequel to ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ that was eventually released the following year. It was during this time that he first met his future wife Katy Perry, she was filming a small cameo role for the film, although it was eventually cut during post production. In September 2009 Russell, by now far better known in America returned to hosting the MTV Video Music Awards, where he once again met Katy and shortly afterwards the pair began a relationship.
In October 2010 the couple married in a Hindu ceremony at a tiger sanctuary in India. Russell by now was a committed vegan, and nine years older than Katy, but for a while at least the marriage seemed to be working. Russell however still seemed to be susceptible to bouts of irrational behavior, he got involved in a scuffle with paparazzi at Los Angeles International Airport and by December 2011 after just over a year of married life he filed for divorce from Katy, reportedly telling her of his decision by text message.
In 2013 Russell was removed from the GQ awards show after making offensive remarks about the shows sponsor Hugo Boss and alleging that the company had affiliations with the nazi regime during World War Two, further offending those present by goose-stepping on the stage. He later called his actions ‘a daft joke’, but his increasing interest in political activism was quickly becoming more apparent. In 2014 Russell began a relationship with a bankers daughter, Jemima Goldsmith who also acted as the editor of a political publication in the UK, ‘The New Statesman’. He took over editorship of the paper in a guest capacity and became more involved in political matters, frequently appearing as a guest on political talk-shows in the UK where he displayed a far more mature and less controversial attitude.
What’s Russell Brand Doing Now in 2017 – Recent Updates
In 2014 Russell relocated back to the UK, moving into a luxury apartment in Shoreditch, London. Now in 2017 he continues to perform stand-up comedy throughout the UK and is still popular amongst audiences at home and in America. His film work continues too, in 2016 he appeared in ‘Army of One’, a comedy drama starring Nicholas Cage, playing the character of God, and voice acted in the 3d computer animated romantic musical ‘Trolls’ alongside Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani and fellow Brit James Corden.
In early 2014 Russell turned back to politics as his main outlet for interacting with his fans. He began a web-based political series entitled ‘The Trews’. Russell presented his political opinions mixed with personal reflections and experiences to an audience online on a regular basis, usually uploading several monologues per week.
Although his opinions in ‘The Trews’ have at times been criticized by some political pundits for being ‘overly-simplistic’ the popularity of the series cannot be denied. The series continues to this day and Russell has now gained 1.3 million subscribers on his Youtube channel.
After his relationship with Jemima Goldsmith ended, Russell began a relationship with Laura Gallacher in 2015, and the couple have since become engaged. In mid 2016 it was announced that Laura was pregnant and in November 2016 she gave birth to their first child, a daughter Mabel. Russell appears these days to be more guarded about his private life and has so far not allowed the media any recent pictures of his new family.
Now in 2017 Russell interacts with his fans on a variety of social media platforms, most notably on Twitter under the tag @rustyrockets, where he is followed by more than twelve million fans. He features new episodes of ‘The Trews’, promotes his various stand-up comedy appearances and often uploads videos of himself enjoying the company of his beloved dog Bear. In January 2017 he uploaded a typically off-the-wall performance where he serenaded Bear with some singing, and proved fairly comprehensively that he may be articulate, intelligent and a great personality, but he probably did the World a favor by not becoming a singer, and Bear seemed to agree.
Despite his rocky road to success, Russell has now appeared to mellow with age and fatherhood, and he has at least learned to deal with the personal issues that have haunted him since childhood. His strength in the face of adversity has enhanced his character, and despite what they think of his political beliefs, his fans always comment on how interesting it is to listen to such an articulate speaker. As he has overcome the kind of problems that have destroyed many before him Russell Brand has re-imagined himself as a modern day philosopher and become a true personality to his fans who find that he always has something to say that’s worth listening to.