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Russell Brand talks his way to stardom

The British, brash, self-confessed former sex, heroin and crack addict is now rising through the ranks of Hollywood movie stars in roles that show off his famous, fast-talking ways.
/ Source: Reuters

Unlike most emerging Hollywood stars, there's nothing Russell Brand won't talk about. At 34, he's practically already said and done it all.

The British, brash, self-confessed former sex, heroin and crack addict, whose pranks and antics included being forced to resign as a BBC radio host after lewd phone calls, is now rising through the ranks of Hollywood movie stars in roles that show off his famous, fast-talking ways.

This week he tests out his first major starring role on U.S. movie audiences in "Get Him to the Greek," which gives top billing to his old role as music pop star star Aldous Snow from the 2008 film "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." It opens in U.S. theaters on Friday.

Brand says the character, who in the film takes a naive record label intern on a hedonistic descent into the world of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, reminds him of his dark and wild days chronicled in his irreverent 2007 memoir "My Booky Wook."

"It's like being able to, for a very brief stint, live out the dark fantasies of the past that were troublesome to actually live the first time," he told Reuters in his usual tongue-in-cheek tone in a recent interview.

"Get Him to the Greek" — a spin-off of sorts from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" in which the Aldous Snow character was only one part of a broader story — co-stars Jonah Hill as the intern (Aaron Green) who struggles to take Snow from London to Los Angeles for a concert at the city's Greek Theatre.

Along the way, the pair get into tricky escapades and, of course, learn what is truly important in life.

Classically trained actorWhile the role of Snow takes full advantage of Brand's comic reputation and while audiences may see him as merely an attention seeker, Brand is a classically trained actor.

He said that, at least for "a little while," he would be happy to carve out a career like Adam Sandler or Jack Black.

Brand will appear opposite Oscar winner Helen Mirren in a film version of "The Tempest" and is set to remake the 1981 Dudley Moore comedy "Arthur," about a wealthy man who refuses to grow up, also alongside Mirren.

He studied at London's Drama Centre, and although he jokes about it — "you know, take your clothes off, start crying. That type of school" — he seems able to easily express the emotions needed to be an actor.

In his memoir Brand was candid in detailing a troubled childhood in industrial Essex, England, as well as various sex and drug-filled adventures in the underbelly of London before landing a hosting gig at youth-oriented MTV.

"I am still a very emotionally visceral, volatile man, tumultuous to the end, forever flinging out feelings. I am not at all spent," he said. "There is still a craving, a yearning."

He has now left London for Los Angeles, and said he intends to marry his girlfriend, pop star Katy Perry, this year.

That relationship has made Brand and Perry fodder for the celebrity tabloids, which he despairs.

"It's a horror to be in the tabloids," Brand said. "I don't mind intelligent analysis, but what can we do? We live spellbound in a cyclical bubble of senseless illusions."

In real-life, Brand often likes to quote French philosopher Michel Foucault, and he cites Richard Pryor, Gandhi, P.G. Wodehouse, Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker as among his heroes.

He says he practices daily meditation, ashtanga yoga, a 12-step recovery program to stave off addictions and ultimately, he wants "to make all people connected through spiritual magnetism."

As for money, fame and glory, "it's nice to have them," he said. "But on the horizon there is something valuable to pursue, and I don't think it's about the acquisition of wealth."