Britney Spears, the Jonas Brothers and even the young cast of “Twilight” were fair game at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards , all brought down a peg or two by the acerbic wit and biting tongue of first-time host Russell Brand , whose seemingly uncensored quips left some uncomfortable and others rolling in the aisles.
You thought he would be any less controversial with the cameras off?
“This evening saw the resurrection of Britney Spears. This could be the dawning of a new age for America,” Brand said immediately following his stint as host when asked about what he’d most remember from the night.
“Britney Spears lost her VMA virginity. Hopefully the Jonas Brothers will be next,” he added while walking briskly to the afterparty, in reference both to Britney’s first Moonman and the young Jonas siblings’ purity rings, an oft-joked-about topic during his monologues.
It’s the kind of take-it-or-leave-it comedy that defined Brand’s performance at the VMAs. Of course, whether you loved or hated Brand, you were probably asking yourself the same question as everyone else: Just who in the hell is Russell Brand anyway?
Before Sunday night, Brand was primarily known in America for his supporting role alongside Kristen Bell and Jason Segel in the recent Judd Apatow comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
“Of course [Americans have] seen me in ‘Sarah Marshall,’ if they’re alive!” Brand laughed when we visited him in May after a comedy performance at the Roxy in Los Angeles . “If they’ve got lungs and kidneys, we can assume that [they've seen me]. It’s a given. It’s on the national curriculum: breakfast, go watch ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall,’ come home, remember scenes from ‘Sarah Marshall.’ ”
Brand is much more intimately known in his native Britain, where he was a onetime VJ at MTV UK. He’s actually really intimately known, thanks to the warts-and-all autobiography “My Booky Wook,” which chronicled his rise to fame and subsequent addictions to drugs (including heroin) and sex.
For a while, Brand had plans to adapt his novel into a film, but that’s no longer the case, he told MTV News in May.
“I’m not going to make the ‘Booky Wooky’ into a film anymore because then people in America will learn what my past is like. People that can be bothered to read will know that I have a checkered past,” he laughed. “Fingers crossed, we give them a book I’ve written already, I don’t have to do no more homework!”
Instead, Brand plans to star in “Get Him to the Greek,” the story of a record-company intern (Jonah Hill) who has to transport a rock star from Europe to L.A.
“A rock star as usual,” Brand sighed of his role in the upcoming film. “I’m going to play rock stars for the first 10 years of my career, and then I’m going to move on, and I’m only going to play mailmen for the next 10 years. It’s going to be fun.”
Brand will also appear alongside Adam Sandler in the upcoming “Bedtime Stories.”