The once outrageous Russell Brand talks to Michele Manelis about how Hollywood - and marriage - have tamed his wild ways.
As far as Hollywood is concerned, Russell Brand, 35, is having his moment. The Brit export and former bad boy who redeemed himself when he married American pop sweetheart, Katy Perry, 26, last year, is starring in two upcoming movies.
Hop, in which he voices the lead role as the Easter Bunny, followed by a remake of the 1981 Oscar-winning hit, Arthur, in the Dudley Moore role as a billionaire drunk.
Today, Brand arrives dressed conservatively in a dark suit - gone is his trademark rock star regalia and not only has his appearance toned down, but with his escalating fame and success, he has also become guarded.
The stand-up comedian who made a living from his outrageous antics and shock humour largely fuelled by addictions to drugs and alcohol, are a distant memory.
This less provocative Brand, with much more at stake, is a serious actor and happily married man.
"Well, yes. The reality of my life now is that I'm a married man focusing on my work. I don't do drugs and haven't done for eight years. I don't muck around in any other area, either. I'm in a devoted, conventional married life, and so that's really how I ought to be regarded," he says.
"But I understand that that's a less interesting thing to write about."
Perhaps in a calculated move on Brand's behalf, in these two starring vehicles, an "adorable" Easter Bunny,' and in Arthur, "a lovable drunk", it would seem he's covering all demographics.
After all, it was only a year ago when in an interview for Get Him to the Greek, he declared, "I won't rest until I achieve world domination to the point where I won't be able to walk anywhere in the world without being recognised."
Evidently, he's achieving his goal?
He loosens up and laughs. "Yeah, I suppose I am achieving this goal. I've been recognised in some quite remote places. I always laugh at how bold my objectives were and I know I said that such a short time ago, but I think that speaks to the huge capacity of love to change a person. Since falling in love and getting married, I have very different priorities," he says.
"I think this speaks to a very poetic, romantic, traditional idea, that it takes a woman to make a man."
Hop, the first cab off the rank, blends live action with CG animation. Director Tim Hill (Muppets from Space, Alvin and the Chipmunks) gave Brand a lot of freedom to improvise. Consequently, the verbose comedian-actor has infused some of his trademark vocabulary in the role, and the furry rodent-like creature doesn't dumb down for the prepubescent audience.
Brand explains, "I think it's good to smuggle a little bit of information into the pastel-coloured world of animation."
It also stars Hugh Laurie, who voices the bunny's father, and James Marsden plays the film's lead; the human who befriends the Bunny (reminiscent of Alvin and the Chipmunks).
The re-imagining of Arthur, taking on the iconic role of the childlike, alcoholic millionaire might have been a little intimidating?
"Well, it was more inspiring and exciting because Dudley Moore was so brilliant in this role, but this is a different film and set in a very different time. Tom Hanks in his role in Big also inspired me. I thought it was important that Arthur be childlike and joyful, not a complicated or tortured drunk."
Brand is teamed with Helen Mirren who takes on the Oscar-winning role of Hobson, originally played by Sir John Gielgud. However, now in these politically correct times, the tone of the movie is quite different from the nihilistic romp it was in the 80s.
Says Brand, who has written two books about his life (My Booky Wook, and Booky Wook 2: This Time It's Personal), documenting the addictions he's conquered, and is somewhat of an expert on the subject.
"Yes, in Arthur, I personally feel that we have a responsibility to show both sides of alcoholism. Whilst the alcoholism of the protagonist in Arthur is to facilitate comedy, I think in 2011, one has to address that there are consequences to the disease of alcoholism. I think it's important and demonstrated in the film that if you were a kid and you didn't have to work and you didn't have to grow up, why not drink a martini first thing in the morning? Seriously, why not?" he says, animatedly.
"It's only when his life takes on an air of sadness, when he loses his best friend that the drinking takes on a more tragic component. I think one of the obvious distinctions of our film is that it addresses that. It's something that Arthur has to deal with.
"You can't end the movie sloshed, drunkenly stumbling into a vehicle. This is 2011 and we know that people die as a result."
Perhaps with Brand's experience in the exercise of spiralling out of control in the media glare, could he give Charlie Sheen some much needed advice?
He visibly stiffens. "Well, no I don't think I'd give him any advice, and if I were to give him advice, I wouldn't offer it through a journalist."
Now Brand is living in Los Angeles, he has a renewed appreciation for all things British.
"I've spent a lot of time away from London, and I've become fiercely patriotic. In fact, dangerously so. If there's a war, I'm going to go! Where do I sign? he laughs.
"National identity is a spurious idea because the important things are our basic humanities which we all share. But if anyone hints at Her Majesty, I'm to my feet," he says, dramatically.
Has Brand become a royalist since living abroad? "I don't know. I've seen photographs of William and he seems perfectly nice. But I don't really agree with hierarchical systems which elevate individuals at the cost of the masses."
And what of the upcoming royal wedding? He deadpans "I have not been invited, but yes I will be going. I'm just going to go in disguise, put on a fake moustache, turn up, claim to be a priest."
In many ways, Brand is the perfect choice to play the childlike icons in both movies. He has most definitely retained that element in his personality.
He smiles, and offers up some Brand-style wisdom.
"Well, I like to think I've kept that part of me. I try to find wonder in every single moment. Imagine when you're on your deathbed and you think of the times in your life when you're thinking, 'I'm bored and I wish I didn't have to do this,' Like that day when you had to endure another interview, you'd think, 'Bloody hell! I'd have that again!' There are people in prisons; there are people who are deathly ill. I think it's important, though not easy, to look constantly for wonder in life because we live amidst miracles in infinite space."
He leans forward and laughs, "Hey, could you use that as a headline? 'We live amidst miracles in infinite space!' Go on. I love it!"
Who: Russell Brand
What: Hop, animated movie featuring Brand as the voice of the would-be Easter Bunny
When: Opens Thursday April 7
Also: Starring in a remake of Arthur in the role Dudley Moore made famous, which opens April 21