BrandX with Russell Brand features the British comedian’s honest and unfiltered point of view on current events, worldwide politics and popular culture. After a somewhat experimental series of six episodes, FX has ordered another seven installments that will return sometime in October, likely behind the new seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League.
While at the FX portion of the TCA Press Tour, Collider got the opportunity to participate in both the show’s panel and a 1-on-1 interview with the always outrageous and often thoughtful Russell Brand, in which he talked about what the experience of this show has been like, whether it’s been more fun or more work than he expected, what he enjoys about having such honest interactions with his audience, the creative changes he’s planning to make with the show, who he would like to exchange lives with for a day, and what he would do, if he could be President of the United States. He also talked about working with Diablo Cody on her directorial debut, his career doing family films, and how it’s been difficult to book time to do his voice work for Despicable Me 2 because they keep wanting to record during his yoga class, but that he will definitely be in it, eventually. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Question: What has the experience of doing this show been like for you, so far?
RUSSELL BRAND: The reason I wanted to do the show is because I wanted to spontaneously react to the news, and be truthful and honest. We shoot long, so cutting it down is a right pain in the ass because it’s a 22-minute segment. But, it’s been highly informative. Luckily, I’m working with blokes who are very experienced people, who make the show. Slowly, I’m beginning to learn where you have to regard the parameters and respect conventions, and where there is room to subvert them. It’s been very, very educational. I remember going on different talk shows, and feeling the different vibes. I’ve been on all of the different ones — Conan, Ferguson, Letterman, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon – and they’ve all got a slightly different vibe. You start thinking, “What is it that he does? What is it that he’s good at?” I’m slowly learning which things I need to apply.
Has the show been more fun or more work than you expected it to be?
BRAND: Both. It’s been a lot more work ‘cause we have to change it all the time, but it’s more fun as well ‘cause I really love the people I work with and I really love where it’s going and I love being on FX. I’m very happy about it. It’s been both more work and more fun, but incredibly fruitful.
BRAND: I really love to be with people. It’s nice, that. To have achieved sudden intimacy with strangers is perhaps the most human thing you can do. We all love our friends and families, as much as we hate them. When you can achieve intimacy with strangers, it’s very exciting and heartening.
Do you think people are surprised by how honest you are with them?
BRAND: People do seem to be surprised, yeah. Laughter is, in a way, a surprise response.
When you had Metta World Peace on your show, you exchanged clothes with each other because he wanted to see what it would feel like to be you.
BRAND: I love him, but I would never have suggested that because I didn’t like his clothes and I didn’t like standing next to his perfect, gorgeous, athletic body.
If there were someone that you could exchange clothes and lives with for a day, who would you want to do that with?
BRAND: You might as well be someone who’s doing murders or got real power. You might as well be a president, or something like that, if you’re going to live someone else’s life for 24 hours. You could be someone who works in pornography, or a monk. I’d like to know what it’s like to be a monk. Porn is just work, at the end of the day. I’ll be a celibate monk.
BRAND: Metta World Peace was really good. That police dog thing was really good. I thought, “This is what I want to do for a living! I want to harass people, on the basis of their race!”
What was your evaluation of how the first six episodes went?
BRAND: Be succinct in part one. Part two, let guests talk. Part three, really engage with the audience and get the audience talking about the issues, so that you give a voice to people. Those three things [are what I learned]. You know everyone is equal, but we don’t live like it. You have to experience things to live them, a little bit.
What creative changes are you going to make to the show, with your next set of episodes?
BRAND: Yes. We wanted to try a lot of things out. I think what will probably happen is that the show will more like a conventional late-night show. We will have guests, every week. I am infatuated with spirituality, revolution and anti-establishment thinking. I get a little excited about the zeal of the newly converted. I’ll probably allow that kind of stuff to more subversively enter into the show rather than being so nuts-out anti-establishment.
What sort of guests are you hoping to get on the show?
BRAND: I’m having Charlie Sheen. I know Charlie a bit, so I’m pulling him into it. He can come on, every week, with a different one of his personalities. By the time that we get to the seventh show, he will arrive, thinking it’s the booking that he had for the first show.
Where does the tremendous amount of resources, that you seem to have floating through your mind, come from?
BRAND: I left school when I was 16. I didn’t go into higher education, but I went to a drama school after that. The reason I have them references is because I’m interested in universal and unifying truths. There’s so much opinion and conjecture, that isn’t pertinent. I really love working for FX because they said, “Do what you want. Try what you want.” They’ve really given me free rein. And what I want to be able to do is look at the stories behind the news. I’d like for the emphasis and onus to be on the humor within that.
Is it true that you want to take somewhat of a break from movies to focus more on your comedy career again?
BRAND: You know, movies don’t happen all of the time, do they? I’m going to do movies. There are a couple of things that I might do, quite soon. But, I like doing this show because it’s very immediate, and FX has such a wonderful attitude towards artists and executive producer/stars that you feel like you’ve got a lot of freedom. So, I’ll do movies, but you spend a lot of time waiting around while you’re doing a movie.
When you do something like the movie you just did with Diablo Cody, who has such a specific style of dialogue, how do you adjust your specific style to that?
BRAND: You just have to listen to people, if they’ve got a vision. Diablo Cody is a great artist, so I just listened to her.
Have you enjoyed having a career for younger audiences, with Despicable Me and Hop?
BRAND: Yeah, I love that stuff! I really do. I want to do more of it. I want to do more things for children. I love children so much!
Have you done any voice work on Despicable Me 2 yet?
Is that something you’d ever have imagined you’d be doing?
BRAND: No, because I’m explicit and adult. But also, I’m quite childlike.
What would you do, if you were the President of the United States?
BRAND: Oh, that would be brilliant, wouldn’t it?! I would give it back to the Queen, on day one. “Here you are, mom, as promised! The colony has returned!” I would take care of welfare, health care, social equality, higher taxes for the rich, which would include me, and redistribution of wealth on a massive scale. I would do things that would make people more happy and gentle towards one another. There would be no prejudicial laws, in any area.