Russell Brand skipping SXSW premiere of his ‘oddly intrusive’ documentary

Russell Brand is skipping the premiere of his SXSW documentary because it makes him "very uncomfortable."
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Russell Brand has always lived his life publicly. He’s written books detailing his struggles with sex and drug addiction. He’s gotten in spats with talk show hosts during interviews and often shares his political views in YouTube videos. He married one of the world’s most famous pop stars, Katy Perry, and even appeared in parts of her 2012 documentary before they divorced that year.

But when it comes to a documentary about his own life, Brand is apparently drawing the line. On the same day a film about the 39-year-old was set to kick off at the South by Southwest Festival, Brand said he would not travel here for its world premiere.

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In a post on his website, Brand said that despite his reputation as a “narcissist,” the idea of having to relive his tumultuous struggles by talking about the movie would be “painful and sad.”


“I know [director Ondi Timoner] is an artist, and I’m told the film is good,” he wrote, “but for me watching it was very uncomfortable.”

Leading up to the festival, a publicist for the film -- titled “Brand: A Second Coming” -- informed The Times that Brand would not be doing any interviews on behalf of the movie while in Austin, Texas. But he was still supposed to show up, and a party to celebrate the premiere was scheduled for Saturday evening as of Thursday.

According to Brand’s post, the documentary began filming seven years ago when he was just becoming a household name. In the years since, numerous directors worked on the project before Timoner came to it. Because she had directed a documentary he liked -- the 2004 Sundance winner “DIG!” -- he thought she might be able to right the ship.

“I suppose what I didn’t consider was that in letting go of the film, I was agreeing to be the subject of a biography,” he said. “Posthumously this is a great honor but, while you’re alive, oddly intrusive and melancholy.”

Over the past couple of years, Brand has remained relatively out of the Hollywood spotlight. While he filmed a stand-up special, “Russell Brand: Messiah Complex,” in 2013, it appeared he had largely given up on a career as an actor after his starring turn in 2011’s “Arthur” remake flopped at the box office. In October, he published a book about his political beliefs called “Revolution”; he hosts a YouTube show on which he analyzes the news.

Over the past few years, he explained in Friday’s statement, he has “transitioned from an attention-seeking missile, exploding into exhibitionism at every turn, into a man who, whilst still a show-off, was becoming disillusioned and disconnected from fame, celebrity and all it’s sticky ephemera.”

Stay tuned for details about “Brand: A Second Coming” after its premiere Friday evening.

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