RUSSELL BRAND is not a rock star; he just plays one in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," the newest movie from the Judd Apatow stable. He does, however, have the goth bling, eyeliner and black vest over a white shirt opened below the point of modesty. And there's the hair: Meticulously wild, long and libertine. It's easy to see this British stand-up comic and radio and TV host as the love child of the Cure and Prince.
"The part was originally meant to be an author, very bookish," Brand says of insanely oversexed rocker Aldous Snow. "They very kindly, and fortunately for me, rewrote the part on our first meeting, when I was dressed thusly, in this sort of sexy-licorice, S&M, Willie Wonka, rocket-scarecrow attire. That worked out incredibly well for me."
Besides Brand himself, other sources of Aldous' DNA include good friend Noel Gallagher and Noel's brother Liam, both of Oasis. Liam is "distilled sexual charisma," says Brand with admiration. "Noel is a very witty man with a good sense of detachment. And Pete Doherty, in the UK, is an iconic musician and also a sweet, lovely boy. Whilst Aldous Snow is self-consumed and arrogant, he's also quite endearing and charismatic."
Brand's naughty wit is apparent as he charms the server at the Four Seasons over his "Antioxidant, Live Forever Salad," as are some of the infamous proclivities that make him and the habitually hip-thrusting Aldous difficult to separate. He's a proud three-time winner of PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian of the Year, the Sun's two-time Shagger of the Year and GQ's Most Stylish Man in 2006 and Least Stylish Man in 2007. He's also a recovering heroin and crack abuser whose bestselling memoir, "My Booky Wook," opens in a clinic for sex addicts -- or, as he wrote, "the terminally saucy."
His sideways grin vanishes only at the mention of perhaps the worst joke he ever made in public: He showed up for his MTV UK show on Sept. 12, 2001, dressed as Osama bin Laden. He was summarily fired, although he was back on the network a few years later.
"I was a drug addict then, and I thought it was funny," he says. "In comedy, I think one has no other obligation than to be funny. Now, on that day, I did not fulfill that basic obligation. . . . That said, it is certainly an interesting subject that you should talk about without a knee-jerk reaction that it's somehow disrespectful to the victims. I think what's more disrespectful is an attitude where you can't discuss things and approach things humanitarianly and with love. But these were not the attitudes that I displayed" that night.
Although he says the freedom he was given to improvise on "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was a boon, he's also enjoying the greater structure of "Bedtime Stories," a Disney movie he's working on with Adam Sandler. "It's a family film, so there's a lot less free rein, which is wise considering the areas I tend to drift toward," he says.
He's also set to star in another Apatow movie with Jonah Hill and is adapting "My Booky Wook" with director Michael Winterbottom ("A Mighty Heart").
"I'll be playing myself," he says. "And you know what? I still don't think it'll be very convincing."
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