Russell Brand

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Russell Brand
Spouse
  • (m. 2010; div. 2012)
  • Laura Gallacher
    (m. 2017)
Children3
Signature
Websiterussellbrand.com
YouTube information
Channels
Years active2006–present
Genre(s)Talk, politics
Subscribers
  • 6.70 million[3]
Total views
  • 1.08 billion[3]
100,000 subscribers2017
1,000,000 subscribers2020

Last updated: 22 July 2023

Russell Edward Brand (born 4 June 1975) is an English comedian, actor, presenter, activist, and campaigner.

political views, provocative behaviour at various award ceremonies, his dismissal from MTV, and his resignation from the BBC amid a prank call controversy
.

Since guest-editing an edition of

The Trews on YouTube, released a book entitled Revolution, and acted in the documentary The Emperor's New Clothes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brand's YouTube channel underwent an increase in activity and change in political direction, and was accused of promoting COVID denialism and conspiracy theories.[10]

In September 2023, following a joint investigation by

emotional abuse.[11] The allegations concern incidents between the years 2006 and 2013 and were featured in the episode Russell Brand: In Plain Sight. Following the allegations, a further report of an alleged sexual assault was made against him to the Metropolitan Police, dating from 2003.[12] Brand has denied all of the allegations[13] and promoted conspiracy theories regarding them.[14][15]

Early life

Russell Edward Brand was born in Orsett Hospital in Grays, Essex, England. He is the only child of Barbara Elizabeth (née Nichols) and photographer Ronald Henry Brand.[1] Brand's parents separated when he was six months old, and he was raised by his mother.[16][17]

When Brand was 8, his mother was diagnosed with

LSD, and ecstasy.[18] Brand says he had a "strange relationship" with his father, whom he saw sporadically and who took him to visit prostitutes during a trip to Thailand when Brand was a teenager.[16][19]

He made his theatrical debut at the age of 15 in a school production of

Italia Conti Academy,[20] and had his first year of tuition funded by Essex County Council. After his first year at Italia Conti Academy, Brand was expelled for illegal drug use and poor attendance.[21][22] Brand has said that he was sexually abused by a tutor.[23]

Career

Stand-up

Brand performed stand-up at the

Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut as one-third of the stand-up show Pablo Diablo's Cryptic Triptych, alongside ventriloquist Mark Felgate and Anglo-Iranian comic Shaparak Khorsandi
.

In 2004, Brand took his first one-man show, the confessional Better Now, to the Edinburgh Festival, giving an account of his heroin addiction. He returned the following year with Eroticised Humour. He launched his first nationwide tour, Shame, in 2006. Brand drew on embarrassing incidents in his own life and the coverage about him in the tabloid press. The show was released on DVD as Russell Brand: Live. Brand appeared in a sketch and performed stand-up at Amnesty International's Secret Policeman's Ball in 2006[25] and again at the 2012 edition at Radio City Music Hall.[26]

In March 2007, Brand co-hosted an evening of the Teenage Cancer Trust gigs with Noel Fielding. In December 2007, Brand performed for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip as an act in the 2007 Royal Variety Performance. His second nationwide tour, in 2007, was called Russell Brand: Only Joking and released on DVD as Russell Brand: Doin' Life. Brand began performing in the US, and recorded a special for Comedy Central titled Russell Brand in New York, which aired in March 2009.[27] Brand began touring the UK, America and Australia from January to April 2009 on a tour called Russell Brand: Scandalous.[28] In October, a further four dates that were performed in November were added to raise money for Focus 12, the drug charity for which Brand was a patron until it closed.[29][30]

In 2013, Brand presented and toured his comedy show Messiah Complex, in which he tackled advertising, the laws on drug addiction and the portrayal of his heroes, such as

Gandhi, Guevara, Malcolm X and Jesus, and how he is, in comically contrived ways, similar to them.[31][32]

In January 2017, Brand announced his new tour Re:Birth, which debuted in April 2017 and was meant to go through November 2018.[33][34] However, on 30 April 2018, he was forced to cancel the remaining dates after his mother was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident.[34] Russell Brand: Re:Birth, which was filmed in London in April 2018, was released as a standup comedy film on Netflix on 4 December 2018.[35]

Over the years, Brand has named Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks,[36] Peter Cook, Lenny Bruce, Tony Hancock, Jack Kerouac, Stewart Lee,[37] Tenacious D,[38] Eddie Murphy,[39] and Monty Python among his comedic influences. In choosing one comedy film among his five favourite movies he picked Monty Python's Life of Brian.[40] In 2009, he appeared in the television documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyers Cut).[41]

During a live show at the Royal & Derngate theatre in Northampton in 2008 Brand made a hoax call to police saying he had seen a man responsible for a number of assaults.[42][43] He pretended to be a witness to assaults named Sarah.[43] Northamptonshire Police decided not to prosecute and said they would discourage making such calls.[42] The call was condemned by Lynda Yorke of Leicester Rape Crisis Centre, who said: "I don’t think that's particularly amusing. It's in very poor taste. The issue of sexual assault is often belittled and such callous behaviour is extremely hurtful to the victims."[43] James Donaghy of The Guardian said it showed "catastrophically poor judgment".[43] Brand apologised for the call.[43]

He has incorporated many of his controversial public acts into his comedic material. In March 2015, a biographical documentary was released called Brand: A Second Coming.

Presenting

Waxwork of Brand at Madame Tussauds, London

Brand's first presenting role came in 2000 as a

UK Play in 2002.[46]

In 2004, Brand hosted

Big Brother 8 series of Big Brother's Big Mouth. In a statement, Brand thanked all the producers for "taking the risk of employing an ex-junkie twerp" to front the show. Of his time presenting the show, he said: "The three years I've spent on Big Brother's Big Mouth have been an unprecedented joy".[47] Brand hosted a one-off special called Big Brother According to Russell Brand, in which Brand took a surreal, sideways look at Big Brother through the ages. On 8 January 2008, Brand was the fifth celebrity to "hijack" the Big Brother house, in the E4 show Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack.[48]

Brand next returned to MTV in the spring of 2006 as presenter of the chat show, 1 Leicester Square, which had its broadcast time revised to allow for a more adult-oriented theme. Guests included Tom Cruise, Uma Thurman, The Mighty Boosh, and Boy George, and a second series began in September 2006 on MTV. After Big Brother 7 finished, Brand presented a debate show called Russell Brand's Got Issues, on E4. The viewing figures for the first episode were seen as disappointing, being beaten by nearly all of E4's main multi-channel rivals, despite a big publicity and promotional campaign for the show. The poor ratings prompted the network to repackage the show as The Russell Brand Show and move it to Channel 4.[49] The first episode was broadcast on 24 November on Channel 4,[50] and it ran for five weeks.[51]

Brand hosted the

Comic Relief. On 7 July 2007, he presented at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, London.[53]

Brand speaking with Courtney Love in Los Angeles, 2008

On 12 December 2007, BBC Four aired Russell Brand On the Road, a documentary presented by Brand and Matt Morgan about the writer Jack Kerouac and his novel On the Road. Brand returned to Channel 4 to host Russell Brand's Ponderland, in which he discussed topics like childhood and science through stand-up comedy. The show first aired on 22 October 2007 and continued for the next five nights. A second series began on 30 October 2008. The show ran for 12 episodes over the two series.[54]

Brand was later announced as the host of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), which drew scepticism from the American media, as he was relatively unknown to the American public. Brand's appearance led to controversy for numerous reasons.[55] He said the night "marked the launch of a very new Britney Spears era", referring to it as "the resurrection of [Spears]". He also said, "If there was a female Christ, it's Britney".[56] Brand implored the audience to elect Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and later called then–U.S. President George W. Bush "a retarded cowboy fella", who, in England, "wouldn't be trusted with scissors".[56][57] He also made several references to the purity rings worn by the Jonas Brothers, but apologised for the comments later in the show.[58]

His comments at the 2008 MTV VMAs led to Brand receiving death threats from some offended viewers.[59] Brand claimed that MTV asked him to host the 2009 awards after the ratings for the 2008 show were 20 per cent higher than the previous year.[60] Also in 2008, Brand hosted a one-off stand-up comedy show called Comedy Live Presents: Russell Brand and Friends, which was shown on Channel 4 on 25 January 2008. Brand returned to host the 2009 MTV VMAs, on 13 September 2009, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.[61][62] The ratings for the 2009 show were the best since the 2004 VMAs.[63] On 12 February 2011, Brand guest hosted an episode of the hit American sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live.[64] In 2012 he hosted the MTV Movie Awards[65] and Brand X with Russell Brand, a late-night talk show on FX that received lukewarm reviews and middling ratings.[66] The show was cancelled in 2013 after running for two seasons.[67]

Acting

In 1994, while still a teenager, Brand appeared in episodes of

Penelope; although his first major film role was as Flash Harry in the 2007 film St Trinian's.[72]

Brand achieved American fame when he starred in the 2008 film

buddy comedy titled Get Him to the Greek, co-starring Jonah Hill,[76] which also reunited him with Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller and producer Judd Apatow for the film.[76]

Brand starred in

box office disappointment. Brand starred as Lonny in a film adaptation of the 1980s-set musical Rock Of Ages, released in cinemas in June 2012.[83]

After appearing as William Carr in the Diablo Cody film Paradise (2013), Brand went on hiatus from acting. His return role was as Creek in the DreamWorks animated film Trolls (2016), followed by his portrayal of God in the comedy Army of One (2016) with Nicolas Cage. In 2018 and 2019, he portrayed Sports X Network founder Lance Klians in a recurring arc In the last two seasons of the HBO series Ballers.[84] Brand appeared as Tristan Trent in the 2020 fantasy film Four Kids and It,[85] and in 2022 played Linus Windlesham in Kenneth Branagh's remake of Death on the Nile.[86]

Other projects Brand has been tied to include a remake of Drop Dead Fred,[87] an Adam Sandler-produced film about a con man posing as a priest tentatively entitled Bad Father, co-written by Brand and Matt Morgan;[88] and a film adaptation of the children's television programme Rentaghost, a project that was picked up by Fox Studios in 2011 with Ben Stiller attached.[89]

Production

As of October 2008, Brand's own production company is called Vanity Projects.[90] The company's latest production, Russell Brand Doing Life, was released in 2009.[91]

Brand also established his own production company in 2011 with his friend Nik Linnen. Called 'Branded Films', the company operates from the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California, United States. The company's primary focus is to develop films that Brand stars in.[92]

Radio

Brand in April 2011

Brand's radio career began in early 2002, when he hosted a Sunday afternoon show with

Xfm. Brand was dismissed from the job after reading pornographic material live on-air.[93]

In 2005, Brand co-hosted three one-off shows on BBC Radio 6 Music with Karl Pilkington. Brand then co-hosted The Russell Brand Show beginning in April 2006 on BBC Radio 6 Music.

In November 2006, the show transferred to BBC Radio 2 and aired on Saturdays from 9–11 pm. The show regularly drew about 400,000 listeners.[94] The BBC Radio 2 show was available as a podcast.

On 18 October 2008, on The Russell Brand Show, Brand and Jonathan Ross broadcast the recording of a series of lewd phone messages for then-78-year-old actor Andrew Sachs. This infamously included Ross saying, "He fucked your granddaughter", a reference to Sachs' granddaughter Georgina Baillie, whom Russell had dated. The comments were broadcast on the pre-recorded show.[95] After little initial interest, a media story about the calls by the Daily Mail generated a high number of complaints. Brand resigned from the BBC, while Ross was suspended without pay. The BBC was later fined £150,000 by Britain's broadcast regulator for airing the calls.[96] On 21 November 2008, the BBC Trust said that the phone calls were a "deplorable intrusion with no editorial justification".[97]

Brand returned to radio when he and Noel Gallagher hosted a one-off football talk show on 19 April 2009 for Talksport.[98] Brand returned to Talksport on 9 October 2010, with a Saturday night show that lasted 20 weeks. The show featured clips and backstage recordings from his Booky Wook 2 promotional tour.[99] Brand was joined by a host of guests, including Noel Gallagher and Jonathan Ross.[100]

Podcast

On 25 February 2015, Brand launched a twice-weekly podcast called The Russell Brand Podcast through audioBoom. The podcast reunited Brand with his radio presenting team of Matt Morgan and poet Mr Gee.[101] The podcast ended after 24 episodes. In 2017, Brand launched a new podcast called Under the Skin with Russell Brand in which he interviews guests from areas such as academia, popular culture and the arts.[102]

Writing

From 2006 until 2009, Brand wrote a column for The Guardian sports section that focused on West Ham United and the England national football team. A collection of the columns from 2006 and 2007 was released in 2007 in his book Irons in the Fire.[103][104]

Brand's first autobiography, My Booky Wook, was released on 15 November 2007 and received favourable reviews. Andrew Anthony from The Observer commented that "Russell Brand's gleeful tale of drugs and debauchery in My Booky Wook puts most other celebrity memoirs to shame".[105]

Brand signed a £1.8 million two-book deal with

Booky Wook 2: This Time It's Personal, was Brand's second autobiography and was released on 30 September 2010.[109]

Brand has written articles for The Guardian that offer his perspectives on current events and pop culture, including the deaths of

2011 London riots, Brand wrote a column in which he criticised the government's response to the riots in Summer 2011 as a failure to address the root causes.[111]

Brand made his children's book debut in November 2014 with Russell Brand's Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin. It is the first instalment of an intended series, featuring illustrations by Chris Riddell.[112] In The Guardian, reviewer Lucy Mangan noted: "The on-Brand need to be noticed is there on every page, his unwillingness to get out of the way of the story tripping the reader up at every turn" and adding that Chris Riddell's illustrations "give the book a beauty it does not deserve and a coherence the text does not deliver".[113] Nicholas Tucker, in The Independent, noted the book's "wearingly offensive" language, and commented: "Brand's take on The Pied Piper of Hamelin is the first of a series of riffs on traditional fairy and folk tales. If they are all as bad as this one, British children's books will have hit a new low."[114]

His book

Revolution, in which Brand develops his earlier ideas, was published by Random House in October 2014 and received much publicity. Nick Cohen of The Observer called Brand's writing "atrocious: long-winded, confused and smug; filled with references to books Brand has half read and thinkers he has half understood."[115] On the other hand, Steve Richards in The Independent commented: "Brand writes and speaks with verve, words flowing effortlessly and musically. The contrast with the tame wooden prose of elected politicians is marked."[116]

In September 2017, Macmillan published Brand's book Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions.[117] His next book, Mentors: How To Help and Be Helped, was published in January 2019. It deals with the people who have had a positive impact on his life and encourages us to look to others to become better individuals.[118]

Sexual misconduct allegations

Pre–2023 allegations

In a 2006 interview,

sex addiction." She said that Brand "wouldn't take no for an answer" and "throughout the whole interview he kept making shocking remarks that I can't even repeat".[22][119]

In 2007, on Brand's BBC Radio 2 comedy show, he called former Jim'll Fix It host Jimmy Savile and asked to meet him. Savile answered that that would only happen if Brand brought along his sister if he had one. In response, Brand joked, "I've got a personal assistant [...] and part of her job description is that anyone I demand she greet, meet, massages, she has to do it. She's very attractive, Jimmy."[120] When he asked Savile what she should wear, Savile replied he would "prefer her to wear nothing".[120][121] The exchange between Brand and Savile was featured in the 2023 Channel 4 Dispatches documentary Russell Brand: In Plain Sight.[122]

From 2006 to 2008 Brand received five complaints while he was a BBC radio host and presenter of both sexual misconduct and unprofessional workplace behaviour.[123]

In 2014, former girlfriend Jordan Martin said Brand had committed

emotional abuse during their six-month relationship in 2007.[124][125] She accused Brand of assaulting her at the Lowry Hotel in Salford when he became angry after discovering she had spoken to an ex-boyfriend.[125]

While filming a programme with Brand in 2018, Katherine Ryan reportedly made remarks to Brand, indicating he was a "sexual predator"; these remarks were not broadcast.[126]

Sunday Times/Channel 4 investigation (2023)

Release

Early in 2019, The Sunday Times began inquires after being made aware of allegations of sexual misconduct made against Russell Brand.

wellness influencer".[12][133][134]

The reports noted that complaints about Brand's behaviour had been made to

Big Brother's Big Mouth.[135] Production company Endemol and Channel 4 released statements of regret, saying in part: "We are sorry these women did not feel supported and protected while working on these productions and in light of these serious allegations encourage to them to contact us in confidence."[135]

Reactions and aftermath

Brand responded by denying any criminal wrongdoing, saying his relationships have "were absolutely always consensual" while stemming from a period of time when he was "very, very promiscuous".[129] He said he had been contacted by both The Sunday Times and Channel 4 prior to the publication of the story, and said their reporting contained "a litany" of "astonishing, rather baroque attacks", saying at the report's core were "some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute".[12]

On 16 September 2023, Brand performed at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre in London. Brand told the audience, "I really appreciate your support. I love you. There are obviously some things I absolutely cannot talk about – and I appreciate that you will understand."[136] On 18 September 2023, all remaining dates on the tour were postponed.[137] Brand was also dropped by his agent Tavistock Wood amid the accusations.[138] Wood released a statement, writing in part: "Russell Brand categorically and vehemently denied the allegation made in 2020, but we now believe we were horribly misled by him."[139]

YouTube said on 19 September that it had suspended Brand's ability to make money from his account; a spokesperson said, "This decision applies to all channels that may be owned or operated by Russell Brand."[140] The director general of the BBC, Tim Davie, announced an internal review of complaints against Brand during his time working for the organisation.[141] The BBC had already removed some material featuring Brand from its archive.[141] The CEO of the media platform Rumble, Chris Pavlovski, on 21 September, instead said the company would not "join a cancel culture mob". Pavlovski rejected a House of Commons Media Committee request to join YouTube in removing the monetisation from Brand's channels "based solely on these media accusations"; he also stated that the parliament's request was "extremely disturbing".[142][143][144]

Television presenter Vanessa Feltz released a clip of her appearance on Brand's TV show in 2006, where he asked if he could "have it off" with her or her daughters, which left her "deeply offended".[145] Lorraine Kelly said she felt "uncomfortable" during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show after Brand touched her thigh and called her a "slut" in 2007.[146][147]

Police and legal actions

After having encouraged anyone "who believes themself to have been a victim of sexual assault" to come forward, the Metropolitan Police received on 17 September an allegation of sexual assault against Brand said to have taken place in Soho, London, in 2003.[148] The allegation arose after the Met "[approached] The Sunday Times and Channel 4 to ensure that anyone who believes they have been the victim of a sexual offence is aware of how to report this to the police."[149] The alleged incident predates the period of alleged incidents covered in The Sunday Times and Channel 4 investigations.[150][151][152] On 19 November 2023, Brand was questioned by police in connection with alleged sexual assaults.[153] [154]

On 21 September 2023, a woman accused Brand of exposing himself to her at the BBC's Los Angeles office in 2008, and then laughing about it minutes later on his BBC Radio 2 show.[155]

In November 2023, a woman accused Brand of exposing himself and later trapping and assaulting her in a bathroom during the film production in 2010 of comedy Arthur (2011). She was an extra on the film and brought forth a lawsuit against him and Warner Bros.[156] On 3 November 2023, the lawsuit was filed against Brand under New York's Adult Survivors Act, which allowed victims of sexual offences for which the statute of limitations had lapsed a period of one year to file a suit. Warner Bros. Pictures and others involved in Arthur’s production were also named as defendants for neglecting, aiding and abetting misconduct of Brand on the film set.[157][158]

Political activism

2009–2012: Early interventions

Street art by unknown artist on Hackney Street, London

In 2009, Brand attended the 2009 G20 London summit protests. Three years later, the Dalai Lama selected him to host the Buddhist leader's 2012 youth event in Manchester, due to "the power of spirituality to effect change in his own life". Brand testified in front of a parliamentary committee in April 2012, about drug addiction. He shared his BBC Three documentary, Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery and his view that drugs should be decriminalised.

In January 2009, Brand participated in a celebrity letter to

2009 G-20 London summit protests and spoke to the press.[161]

Brand was selected by the Dalai Lama to host the Buddhist leader's 2012 youth event in Manchester. The Dalai Lama's representatives explained that Brand was selected because he had proved "the power of spirituality to effect change in his own life", while Brand stated to the BBC after the event: "I said yes because he's the living incarnation of Buddha and I thought, if you're around the Dalai Lama, that can only be good for your spiritual quest through life. He's an amazing diplomat, an incredible activist, a wonderful human being and an inspiration to us all."[162]

In April 2012, Brand testified in front of a parliamentary committee about drug addiction, sharing his experiences and view that drugs should be decriminalised. He said, "I'm not a legal expert. I'm saying that, to a drug addict, the legal aspect is irrelevant. If you need to get drugs, you will. The criminal and legal status, I think, sends the wrong message. Being arrested isn't a lesson, it's just an administrative blip."[163] Part of this testimony was included in a BBC Three documentary, Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery, that aired in December 2012. Brand said he felt compelled to make the film after the 2011 death of close friend Amy Winehouse, and he also used the opportunity to question how British society "deals with addicts and addiction".[164]

2013: New Statesman, Newsnight

Brand at the London Revolution Protest, June 2014

Brand has frequently campaigned for political issues.[165][166] In June 2013, he appeared in a video in support of Chelsea Manning.[167]

Brand was ejected from the

Nazis, "They did look fucking fantastic, let's face it" before he goose stepped across the stage in a comical imitation of the Nazi march. Brand was eventually ejected from the event after GQ editor Dylan Jones confronted Brand with his view that the speech was "very offensive"—Brand replied by saying that the Nazis' treatment of the Jewish people was "very offensive".[168][169]

On 23 October 2013, Brand was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman for the BBC's Newsnight in which he disparaged the British political system as ineffectual and encouraged the British electorate not to vote.[165] He was challenged by Paxman about his call for "revolution" and whether someone who had never voted could edit a political magazine.[170] When asked by Paxman what a revolution would look like, Brand replied:

A socialist egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth, [with] heavy taxation of corporations ... I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced ... I say profit is a filthy word, because wherever there is a profit there is also a deficit.[171][172]

Brand guest-edited a special issue of the New Statesman that was published on 24 October 2013 and explored the theme of Revolution, and in which he explained his objection to the destruction of Earth through greed and exploitation, and called for a change in consciousness to accompany political and economic measures to achieve a more sustainable future.[173][174]

In November that year Brand joined the Anonymous Million Mask March in London that protested against "cuts, corruption and an increase in state surveillance".[175]

2014–2017: The Trews and Revolution

Cambridge Union Society
in January 2014

In January 2014, Brand was invited by the

Speakers' Officer. The interview ran for more than an hour and was published on the Union's YouTube channel.[176]

Brand launched his YouTube series

The Trews: True News with Russell Brand on 27 February 2014, in which he "analyses the news, truthfully, spontaneously and with great risk to his personal freedom". In addition to news analysis, he regularly has guests on the show, including economists, journalists and activists. By the end of the year, more than 200 episodes had been released on the channel.[177] The show was halted for nearly a year as he decided to be away from social media to focus on his personal and professional growth.[178]

Brand speaking at the People's Assembly Against Austerity rally in London, June 2014

In June 2014, he took part in the People's Assembly Against Austerity, that attracted an estimated 50,000 people marching from the BBC office to Westminster. Brand addressed the crowd, saying, "The people of this building [the House of Commons] generally speaking do not represent us, they represent their friends in big business. It's time for us to take back our power. Power isn't there, it is here, within us. The revolution that's required isn't a revolution of radical ideas, but the implementation of ideas we already have."[179]

Brand interviewed outside the Houses of Parliament, London in 2014

In October 2014, at the time Brand's book Revolution was published, John Lydon (also known as "Johnny Rotten" of the Sex Pistols), in an interview with Polly Toynbee of The Guardian, said that Brand's advocacy of non-voting is "the most idiotic thing I've ever heard".[180] In a November 2014 YouGov poll, involving a selection of celebrities, Brand was chosen as the one with the most negative influence on political debate (46%). The poll also found that 60% of poll participants disliked him and 28% liked him.[181]

Shortly afterwards, Brand appeared on Newsnight again, but was interviewed by Evan Davis on this occasion. Asked about 9/11 conspiracy theories and whether the attacks were perpetrated by the American government, Brand commented: "[w]e have to remain open-minded to [that] kind of possibility",[182][183] although this section of the interview ended with Brand stating that he did not "want to talk about daft conspiracy theories".[184][185]

Brand at Zuccotti Park, New York City, in October 2014

BBC Three commissioned Brand to make a documentary on the global "

War on Drugs", which aired on 26 November 2014. The film, titled Russell Brand: End the Drugs War, shows him exploring the illicit drug policies of other countries in search of a compassionate approach to people who use illicit drugs. Brand said in the documentary, "People think compassion is 'wet liberalism'; it's not, it's pragmatic".[186]

On 2 December 2014, Brand joined

New Era housing estate.[187] During a protest for the New Era residents, Channel 4 News reporter Paraic O'Brien continually pushed Brand to answer questions about the value of his own property, which is rented. The line of questioning irritated Brand, who ended up calling the reporter a "snide"—the short clip went viral on YouTube.[188][189][190]

Later that month, on 11 December, Brand appeared on the BBC's

Question Time programme which included the UK Independence Party's leader Nigel Farage as one of the other panellists. Brand called Farage "a pound shop Enoch Powell" on-air,[191] and the two men continued to trade insults after the programme had ended.[192]

In January 2015, during the television show Channel 4's Big Fat Anniversary Quiz, Brand insulted the politician

Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust.[197] In March, readers of Prospect magazine voted Brand the fourth-most influential thinker in the world, behind Thomas Piketty, Yanis Varoufakis, and Naomi Klein.[198]

The film documentary

financial crisis of 2007–2008 and global economic inequality. The documentary is produced by Brand's Revolution Films company and distributed by StudioCanal UK.[200][201]

On 29 April 2015, eight days ahead of 2015 UK general election, Brand published an interview with Labour leader Ed Miliband on an episode of The Trews as part of a Trews Politics Week series.[202] Miliband stated that he took part to win over people like Brand who do not vote, although his opponent David Cameron deemed the entire interview a "joke".[203] The following day Brand released an interview with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Green MP Caroline Lucas, giving his support to Lucas in Brighton advising people there to vote Green.[204] He also criticised an election "set up not to represent people's wishes".[205]

Following these interviews, three days before the election, Brand released the final episode of The Trews Politics Week entitled "Emergency: VOTE To Start Revolution"[202] releasing additional material from his discussion with Ed Miliband and stating "I think we've got no choice but to take decisive action to end the danger of the Conservative party".[206] He dropped his anti-voting position and "declared the importance of voting", backing Labour and telling his fans that "You gotta vote Labour", although he admitted "that he couldn't be sure of the reality of what a Labour government would mean".[207][208] Brand was not registered to vote in the 2015 election.[207]

On 20 August 2015, Brand released episode 366 of The Trews titled "Final Episode Of The Trews – Goodbye, Good Luck", which he said would be the final episode of the series.[209] The Trews returned on 12 October 2016.

Brand endorsed

The Huffington Post that Corbyn "has the qualities I want in a strong and stable leader".[211] Regarding the 2015 election, he said: "You know I never actually said 'don't vote'? I said 'There's no point in voting when the main political parties are basically indistinguishable and the relationship between government, big business and factions of the media make it impossible for the democratic will of the people to be realised.'"[211]

2021–present: conspiracy theory accusations and Stay Free

Brand in September 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brand's YouTube channel underwent an increase in activity and change in political direction, and was accused of promoting COVID denial and conspiracy theories.[10] According to culture reporter Louis Chilton, his videos are usually "framed with some sort of contrarian take or calling out hypocrisy in the mainstream media", and often hint "at a vague, world-altering conspiracy".[212] Chilton questioned Brand's motives, suggesting that skeptics might "question why he advertises his stand-up tour just seconds into the start of each clip".[212] In March 2023, Finn McRedmond of the New Statesman, which Brand had guest-edited in 2013, described Brand as having now melded his "trad-socialist values" with "all the suspicions and anxieties of the new American right".[213]

Brand's YouTube channel saw significant growth in popularity during this time, amassing 6.5 million subscribers and at least a billion views.[214][215] His new weekly views rose from a low of under 500,000 in November 2020 to about 14.5 million in March 2022.[216] In September 2021, Brand told people attending his tour how they could bypass COVID-19 safety measures.[217] The following month, YouTube began reviewing some of Brand's videos to see if they violated the site's COVID-19 vaccine policies.[218] In 2022, Brand reacted to the World Health Organization's meetings on the pandemic treaty, saying "Your democracy is fucking finished" and that the world had "lapsed into a terrible technocratic, globalist agenda".[219] Early that year, Brand released a video decrying the media for allegedly ignoring the Canada convoy protest.[220][221]

Columnist Charlotte Lytton accused Brand of following

Rumble, where he launched a new daily live show, Stay Free with Russell Brand.[226][227]

Personal life

Brand has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder.[228][229] He also says he has had bulimia,[230] and pornography addiction,[231] and experienced a period of self-harming.[232] Brand has described the concept of fame as "like ashes" in his mouth.[176]

Brand used to be a

Christ consciousness.[236] He started wearing a crucifix,[237] engaged in sacrifices during Lent,[238] and stated: "I pray the Rosary every single day."[239] In April 2024 he was baptised.[240][241]

In 2011, Brand served as best man at

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has earned a purple belt in the discipline.[243] He credits the art with improving his life in several ways.[244] At the time of his 2017 wedding, Brand lived near Henley-on-Thames.[245] He is a lifelong supporter of West Ham United.[246] Brand is the owner of The Crown Inn pub in Pishill, a village near his Henley-on-Thames home.[247]

Brand is a teetotaller.[248]

Relationships

Brand first met American singer

Hindu ceremony, near the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan.[252]

On 30 December 2011, Brand filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences,[253] and their divorce was finalised in July 2012.[254] Perry's July 2012 autobiographical documentary, Katy Perry: Part of Me, showed the couple having conflicting career schedules and Perry not feeling ready to have children.[255] Perry also later said in an interview that Brand did not like the idea of her "being the boss" of things, and that the last time she had heard from him was on 31 December 2011, when he text-messaged that he was divorcing her.[256]

Days after his divorce was finalised, Brand said in an interview with Howard Stern that he was extremely in love with Perry, but after marrying her realised "this isn't really working out ... I was really, really in love with her, but it was difficult to see each other ... it mostly didn't work for practical reasons".[257] While Stern pressed for details, Brand declined, saying: "I don't want anything to hurt her. She's younger than me, she's a young woman and she's beautiful and she's sensitive and I care about her deeply."[257] Brand, who married Perry without a prenuptial agreement, was eligible to claim half of the estimated $44 million she earned during their marriage, but declined.[258]

In 2012, he briefly dated singer

Hillsborough Justice Campaign.[261] Brand and Khan ended their relationship in September 2014.[262][263]

In the October 2014 issue of Vanity Fair, Brand said of the allegations of misogyny made against him:

I have lived a life and had a frame of cultural references that make that charge quite legitimate... But as a person who's trying to live a decent, spiritual life, misogyny is not part of my current palette of behaviors... In a way, redemption is a great part of my narrative. I'm talking about disavowing previous lives, previous beliefs, previous behaviours.[264]

Since 2015, Brand has been in a relationship with Scottish blogger and former restaurateur Laura Gallacher, the sister of television presenter Kirsty Gallacher and daughter of Bernard Gallacher. Brand and Gallacher first dated in 2007, when Gallacher was 19 and Brand was 30.[265] Their first daughter was born in November 2016.[266] Brand married Gallacher in Henley-on-Thames on 26 August 2017.[267] In July 2018, Brand and Gallacher had a second daughter.[268] Brand confirmed in January 2024 that their son was born in 2023 [269]

Alleged battery and criminal damage charges

Brand in Regent's Park, London, September 2020

On 16 September 2010, Brand was arrested on suspected battery charges after he allegedly attacked a

citizen's arrest until the police arrived and he was released from custody the next day after posting US$20,000 bail.[271]

On 15 March 2012, an arrest warrant was issued for Brand in New Orleans because of allegations that he had thrown a photographer's mobile phone through a window. The paparazzo was taking pictures of Brand with an iPhone when Brand wrestled the device from his hands and tossed it at a law firm's window. The warrant cited "simple criminal damage to property", leading Brand, who offered to pay for the replacement of the window, to voluntarily appear at a police station. Brand was filming a movie in New Orleans at the time of the incident.[272]

Illegal drug use

The media published articles on Brand during his drug-using period, typically in relation to incidents, and his public profile has since been associated with this era. Drug-related issues led to Brand's arrest on twelve occasions.

The Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh and following a subsequent show in the city in 2004, a reviewer stated that "you'd rather hug him than hit him", as he had embraced recovery by this point. Following the cessation of his use, Brand revealed through his stand-up performances that he introduced his drug dealer to Kylie Minogue during his time at MTV[273] and said he had performed manual sex on a male stranger in a public toilet for a television programme, adding: "I must say, it wasn't for me. I didn't really enjoy it. My tendencies and inclinations towards women are very, very powerful. I like them very much. It's just a biological urge."[274]

In January 2014, Brand described his first experience with heroin as "blissful".

sponsor" for numerous people during the rehabilitation stage of their treatment process.[276]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
2006 Penelope Sam
2007
St Trinian's
Flash Harry
2008 Forgetting Sarah Marshall Aldous Snow
Bedtime Stories Mickey
2010 Get Him to the Greek Aldous Snow
Despicable Me Dr. Nefario (voice)
The Tempest Trinculo
2011 Hop E.B. (voice) / Production Assistant
Arthur Arthur Bach
2012 Rock of Ages Lonny Barnett
Katy Perry: Part of Me Himself Uncredited cameo
2013 Despicable Me 2 Dr. Nefario (voice)
Paradise William
2014 A Royal Hangover Himself
2015 Brand: A Second Coming Himself
The Emperor's New Clothes Himself
2016 Army of One God[278][279]
Trolls Creek (voice)
2018 The Fight The Guru
2020 Four Kids and It Tristan Trent III[280]
2022 Death on the Nile Windlesham
Minions: The Rise of Gru Dr. Nefario (voice)
Catherine Called Birdy Suitor from Kent
2023 Under the Boardwalk Mako (voice)

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1994 The Bill Billy Case Episode: "Land of The Blind"
Mud Shane 6 episodes
2002 White Teeth Merlin Episode: "The Peculiar Second Marriage of Archie Jones"
RE:Brand Host 7 episodes
Cruise of the Gods Woolly Hat Fan TV film
2004 A Bear's Christmas Tail Mr. Wolf TV film
2004–2006
Big Brother's Big Mouth
Host 53 episodes
2005–2007 Celebrity Big Brother's Big Mouth Presenter 16 episodes
2006 Russell Brand's Got Issues Host 6 episodes
2006, 2007
2009, 2015
The Big Fat Quiz of the Year Himself TV special
2007 The Abbey Terry TV film
Cold Blood
Ally Parkins Episode: "Interference"
2007–2009 Russell Brand's Ponderland Host 12 episodes
2008 2008 MTV Video Music Awards Host TV special
2009 2009 MTV Video Music Awards Host TV special
2011 Big Time Rush Himself Episode: "
Big Time Beach Party
"
Saturday Night Live Himself/host Episode: "Russell Brand/
Season 36
)
2012 2012 MTV Movie Awards Host TV special
Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery Himself BBC Three Documentary
2012–2013 Brand X with Russell Brand Host 25 episodes
2014 Russell Brand: End the Drugs War Presenter BBC Three Documentary
2017 Hospital People Tyler Watt Episode: "The Health Guru"
2018 Celebrity Juice Panelist Episode: "#19.1"
2018–2019 Ballers Lance Klians 14 episodes
2020 Neighbours Himself Episode: "#1.8385"

Awards

Award Award category Year Result Refs.
Time Out
Best Stand-Up 2006 Won [281]
Loaded Laftas Best Stand-Up 2006 Won [282]
British Comedy Awards
Best Newcomer 2006 Won [283]
33rd Annual Television and Radio Awards Best Television Performer in a Non-Acting Role 2007 Won [284]
British Comedy Awards Best Live Stand-Up 2008 Won [285]
Variety's Power of Comedy Award 2010 Won [286]
British Comedy Awards Outstanding Contribution to Comedy 2011 Won [287]
GQ Men of the Year Awards Oracle 2013 Won [169]
Foot in Mouth Award Quote[a] 2014 Won [288]

Stand-up DVDs

  • Live (20 November 2006)
  • Doing Life – Live (26 November 2007)
  • Scandalous – Live at the O2 (9 November 2009)
  • Live in New York City (21 November 2011)
  • Messiah Complex (25 November 2013)
  • Brandemic (15 March 2023)

Written works

Notes

  1. ^ "The internal mayhem I'm feeling is spilling out everywhere. I loved it, and felt very connected to activism – particularly activism that feels loaded with potential. Not the oppositional activism that seems like there's a stasis around it – earnestly sincere, but a monolith equal to the establishment."

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  • Further reading

    Interviews

    External links

    Media offices
    Preceded by
    no host
    MTV Video Music Awards host
    2008
    2009
    Succeeded by
    Preceded by
    MTV Movie Awards host
    2012
    Succeeded by