Russell Brand has the foolproof path (emphasis on the “fool”) toward Oscar glory figured out: imitation.
See, 20 years ago, Dudley Moore nabbed an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor based on his turn as a boozy billionaire in “Arthur.” For Brand’s upcoming remake of the comedy, he plopped on Arthur’s top hat and, as he joked, chose simply to ape Moore’s performance — hoping, if not to break new big-screen ground, than at least to assure himself some awards-season love.
“What I did is, I’ve pretended to be Dudley Moore for a lot of this film, because I was thinking perhaps they just might think, ‘He’s almost the exact same as him. Let’s nominate him for an Oscar,’ ” Brand told MTV News when we visited the “Arthur” set last summer.
But having hung out on the set for a day, we can say this: The new Arthur is an utterly Brandian creation. He’s hyper-articulate, with an encyclopedic assortment of historical and pop-culture reference, yet completely, endearingly immature. How else to explain that in one scene, Brand can be spotted in full Batman regalia, leaving an NYPD precinct and stopping in front of a gaggle of reporters but yelling to a cohort, “Don’t forget about that cock fight on Thursday! It better be what I think it is”?
For the role, Brand didn’t have to do research so much as reference his past misdeeds. “He’s a lovable drunk. I used to be drunk; I remain lovable,” he said, quick-witted as ever.
The challenge for his co-stars was just trying to keep up when the cameras rolled. “Russell’s so quick and so smart, it’s like playing comedy speed chess,” said Greta Gerwig, who plays one of his love interests. “He’s always 12 moves ahead of you.”
Said Jennifer Garner, who plays another of Arthur’s romantic conquests, “You just have to be ready for whatever he throws at you. And you want to feel like you are throwing enough at him that he’s not bored.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Arthur.”
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