Also Credited As:Russell Edward Brand
|Actor, Producer, Music|
|Russell Edward Brand on June 4, 1975 in Essex, England, GB|
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Born June 4, 1975 in Grays, Essex, England to Barbara Elizabeth and Ronald Henry Brand, a photographer, Brand grew up in Grays with his mother after his parents separated when he was only six months old. Brand led a troubled adolescence; his mother, Barbara, suffered a bout with cancer, and Brand himself struggled with bulimia as a teen. Finding an outlet for his troubles in acting, Brand landed his first stage performance at the age of 15, portraying Fat Sam in a school production of "Bugsy Malone." Turning in an impressive performance, Brand landed a council-funded education at the private Italia Conti Academy in London, Britain's oldest theatre arts training school, and went on to earn a three-year scholarship to London's prestigious Drama Centre. Though Brand showed an obvious talent and aptitude for the dramatic arts, he was kicked out of the school a week shy of graduation for destruction of school property.
Undeterred, Brand began to perform stand-up comedy in local clubs around London. He landed his first major stand-up gig as a finalist in the Hackney New Act of the Year competition in 2000. Though he did not place in the top three, Brand did garner the attention of an agent John Noel and he began to book regular gigs around the U.K. While performing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, Brand caught the eye of MTV producers, who quickly hired him as a VJ on "Dance Floor Chart" (MTV U.K.). Brand's days at MTV were short-lived however; when he showed up to work on Sept. 12, 2001 dressed as Osama Bin Laden - a prank Brand later chalked up to drug-induced stupidity - he was promptly fired. He went on to host his own comedy show in the U.K., "RE: Brand" (UK Play, 2002), a documentary-style show that commented on cultural taboos. Often drunk or on heroin during the series, Brand had a difficult time balancing a career with his drug habit. Forced into rehab a year later by his longtime manager, Brand cleaned up his act and began to rebuild his career.
In 2004, Brand landed a gig hosting the live discussion series "Big Brother's Efourum" (E4, 2004-07) and "Kings of Comedy" (E4, 2004). Returning to stand-up, he took his one-man show, "Better Now," to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Documenting his life as a sex and heroin addict, the show received four and five-star reviews in The Times, The Guardian and The Scotsman. He returned to the festival in 2005 with the stand-up show, "Eroticized Humour." Brand quickly became tabloid fodder in 2006 after receiving treatment for sex addiction and romancing supermodel Kate Moss. Never one to shy away from publicity, Brand embraced the media attention and incorporated it into his stand-up routine.
Brand was also given a second chance at MTV, who invited him back to the network to host the celebrity talk show "1 Leicester Square" (MTV UK, 2006). Something of a comeback for Brand, he went on to host the "2007 Brit Awards" (ITV1) and "Comic Relief 2007: The Big One" (BBC1), as well as publishing the bestselling memoir, My Booky Wook, which chronicled his troubled childhood and struggle with drug addiction as an adult. Though already well-known in the U.K., Brand landed his first major American gig in 2008 when he was cast as narcissistic British-rocker Aldous Snow in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008) - a role rewritten for him after his audition. With this one part, Brand stole the show and caught the eye of American audiences. He also filmed a supporting role in the family hit "Bedtime Stories" (2008) as a surprisingly sweet, partying friend of Adam Sandler's.
Riding the coattails of Brand's growing popularity in the U.S., MTV asked him to host the "2008 Video Music Awards," in which he made jokes on everything from purity rings to the presidential race. The successful ratings ensured that Brand was asked back to repeat his hosting duties the following year, and he had a high-profile engagement to pop singer Katy Perry to celebrate as well. Brand notched his biggest role in U.S. multiplexes with the release of the Judd Apatow-produced comedy, "Get Him to the Greek" (2010). Clearly on a roll, both personally and professionally, the comedic-actor ventured into the world of animation when he voiced Gru's (Steve Carell) mad scientist partner, Dr. Nefario, in the animated fantasy "Despicable Me" (2010). Later that year, he was seen as the devious jester Trinculo in writer-director Julie Taymor's interpretation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (2010), starring Helen Mirren.
The newly-married Brand then lent his particular brand of vocal dexterity to the role of E.B., the reluctant successor to the Easter Bunny, in the animated family feature "Hop" (2011). By most accounts, he did a serviceable job at filling Dudley Moore's sodden shoes as the titular drunken millionaire "Arthur" (2011), in a project that once again placed him alongside Mirren. After little more than a year of marriage, Brand filed for divorce from Perry in December of that year, citing "irreconcilable differences" and setting off a maelstrom of tabloid scrutiny. Once the estranged couple had agreed upon all financial issues, a judge in Los Angeles granted the divorce in February 2012, which became official later that July. The tumult continued when in March of that year an arrest warrant was issued in New Orleans for Brand after he wrestled an iPhone away from a paparazzo and threw it through a window. In town while filming screenwriter Diablo Cody's directorial debut, Brand quickly turned himself in to police without incident. That summer, Brand reappeared on screen as nightclub manager Lonnie Barnett in the '80s-themed musical "Rock of Ages" (2012), the big screen adaptation of the Broadway smash hit starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Catherine Zeta-Jones.