The leaves are falling, and the turkey is practically in the oven. Yes, according to the calendar, it’s time to take stock and give thanks. So that’s precisely what we’re doing by talking to the actors and filmmakers that made 2008 a memorable year at the movies — a year filled with self-loathing kick-ass superheroes, Manolo-wearing women and the return of a very familiar man in a hat .
If you’re American, I’m willing to bet you hadn’t heard of Russell Brand a year ago. A scene-stealing supporting turn in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and a memorable night hosting MTV’s VMAs — not to mention a gaggle of mini-controversies — later, and you’ll understand why we’ve included the Englishman on our thankful list.
And Brand is busier than ever as we head into ’09, filming roles in the Judd Apatow-produced “Get Him to the Greek” and Julie Taymor’s “The Tempest” and releasing his memoir “My Booky Wook” in the States in March.
We took a look back with Brand as he recalled his Jonas Brothers jokes at the VMAs, rumors about him starring as Jack Sparrow’s brother in the next “Pirates” film, and why he’s ready to put aside that BBC prank-calling controversy once and for all.
MTV: Congratulations, Russell. It’s been a big year for you, and I’m proud to tell you that you’re one of the actors we’re most thankful for in 2008.
Russell Brand: I’m really thrilled. As an Englishman, it’s something I never thought I would be a part of. To be a part of MTV’s thank-giving — I mean Thanksgiving. See, I don’t even know the name of it. I’m totally overwhelmed. I don’t even know how to say it properly. I find it so confusing.
MTV: How has your life changed most in the last year?
Brand: I’m spending a lot more time in America now. I’m meeting a lot more attractive American people. And I’ve grown an inch. I don’t want to tell you where, because I don’t want to embarrass you, especially after the thank-giving faux pas.
MTV: So would you say there are more attractive people here in America than back home?
Brand: You should be giving thanks to your own sexy gene pool. You’ve produced some incredible-looking folk.
MTV: Is there anyone left that you’d like to meet?
Brand: I’d like to meet Woody Allen. I’d like to work with him, because I understand that he ignores you through the whole process. That would be fun. And I’m very keen to meet the actress Gianna Michaels. She can only be described as an adult-film actress. I urge you to look at the work of Gianna Michaels. I would be very interested in working with her in any capacity. She’s a very gifted woman.
MTV: How do you look back on your experience hosting the VMAs?
Brand: Hosting the VMAs was a colossal adventure. I really enjoyed that.
MTV: Your comments about the Jonas Brothers and their vows of abstinence got you in a bit of hot water.
Brand: I didn’t think it would have such an impact. I’m only just mucking about with the things I say. When some people took it seriously, it was surprising.
MTV: Have you run into the Jonas Brothers since?
Brand: No, I haven’t seen them, but I love them little guys. I’ve got nothing against the Jonas Brothers as a concept. I love the idea.
MTV: What’s on your to-do list for ’09?
Brand: I want to learn more about American cultural holidays. I’m going to have the best thank-giving ever. I also want to make sure [“Get Him to the Greek”] is a triumph and that any further work I do with MTV is a success. And then perhaps a Christmas song with the Jonas Brothers.
MTV: Are you interested in hosting the VMAs again next year?
Brand: There’s been some chit-chat about that, yes.
MTV: Is there any truth to the rumors that you might play Johnny Depp’s brother in the upcoming “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel?
Brand: I’ve seen some talk about that matter, but I think they’re still writing the script. Nonetheless, I am having a skull and crossbones tattooed on each of my nipples in anticipation of the plotline. I just hope it doesn’t affect my other work in Jane Austen adaptations.
MTV: You recently resigned from your BBC radio show after a prank call you made generated a huge wave of publicity and outcry. Did the press it generated surprise you?
Brand: I don’t think anything could be worth the amount of press it’s gotten. I think the privately owned media used it as a way to try to destroy the publicly funded BBC. And also, it occurred during a time when the only news was about the credit crunch and the recession. And also, print media is dying because people get their news online now, so newspapers have to enhance their identity through opinion and comment and campaigning. This was a good opportunity for them to do that. It was regrettable. I apologized for it, but the ensuing publicity was just about selling newspapers.
MTV: So do you have any lingering guilt about the call?
Brand: No. Absolutely not. I apologized for it. For me, it’s over.
MTV: Are your prank-calling days over?
Brand: No. It literally made no difference to the way I view the world. I did a thing that was naughty. I apologized for it. What happens after that, other people can speculate about.
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