Hes moved to the country, had a newborn and bided away from politics but is the comedian ready for a quiet life?
The last period I interviewed Russell Brand was in 2008, around the time of Sachsgate, and he was a handful. When I asked him, as a joke, if he was going for world dominance, he replied,” Yes, that is what I will do. What am I going to stop for? I’ll only carry on until there’s nothing left .” Nine years on, he has changed in some ways, and in others , not at all.
He still appears amazing: tall, long-haired, Gypsy-George-Best handsome; a dandy highwayman in black leather trousers and goth jewellery. His mind still fires faster than a machine gun, and his speech is just as packed with flowery words and detailed explanations, peppered with references to what he’s read( Jung, Harari, life coach Tony Robbins ). And he’s still funny. But Brand is different. His ego is less all-consuming. In 2008, he was difficult with the photographer( not today, he’s fine) and, during our chat, he maintained moving his head so that, even when I tried to glance away, he was constantly in my sight-line. It was as if my eyes were the spotlight and his face had to be in it. No more.
” Yes, I’m less mad now ,” he says, when I mention this.” I was a needy person. I entail, that condition abides, but I manage it better now, I suppose .”
Back then, he was also very much a girl-hound-” I love fucking ,” he told me.” My house has a hot tub for damned good reasons, and none of them spiritual .” But these days he’s settled, living in the countryside with his new wife Laura Gallacher( sister of Sky Sports presenter Kirsty ), newborn Mabel, two cats, a brace of chickens and a “maniac” puppy. Having burned through his marriage to Katy Perry in two years, and dated Jemima Khan, his relationship with Gallacher, on and off for years, is now settled and domestic. Career-wise, he’s still a standup- he’s on a 71 -date tour that will take him into 2018- but seems to have stopped behave, and has shifted a lot of his public work to activism. In 2014, he began posting The Trews, his political YouTube show, garnering more than 1m subscribers. He’s now studying for an MA in religion in global politics at SOAS University of London. He hosts a wordy, thought-provoking podcast, Under The Skin, where he talks to academics, political leaders and novelists about contemporary ideas. Is this all less mad? It’s an effort to be more serious, certainly, though his daft performer’s instinct can send him off course in search of the joke, so that he gets ridiculed on political Tv shows.
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