In the new family comedy Hop, which seamlessly blends CG animation with live-action, Russell Brand provides the voice for E.B., the teenage son of the Easter Bunny. Poised to claim his birthright and take over the title and all the power that comes with it, E.B. decides to give up egg painting and candy production and flees Easter Island for Hollywood, to pursue his dream of becoming a drummer. Once there, he encounters Fred (James Marsden) who, at 30, is also unhappy with the path that his family has put him on, and the two realize that maybe they can help each other in achieving their dreams.
At the film’s press day, Russell Brand talked about how much fun it was to bring the Easter Bunny to life, having his own childhood fantasies of becoming a rock star, working within the parameters of a family film, and the animated characters that he enjoyed as a kid. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: Did you enjoy playing the Easter bunny and being involved with such a sweet family film?
RUSSELL BRAND: I really enjoyed it. For me, the opportunity to play the Easter Bunny gave me a lot of license ‘cause he’s playful and mischievous. People couldn’t see the peculiar gestures I was using to motivate that voice. A lot of them were like I was trying to land a plane on a matchbox. What I liked about it is that, in the world of children, there are very, very different rules and a naivete, an innocence and sweetness that’s been beautifully captured by this film.
Did you feel any pressure at all, playing a character as iconic as the Easter Bunny?
BRAND: In case I would undermine what people’s preconceptions of the Easter Bunny were? I didn’t feel any pressure, at all. It was as if that pressure didn’t exist. What I thought was, “This is a blank canvas.” Where have there been rabbits in films? Roger Rabbit was brilliant. There’s Bugs Bunny and Harvey, in that Jimmy Stewart movie from ages ago. They’re always playful and fun, so I thought this was a bright bloody good opportunity for me to have a rollicking laugh. Also, furthermore to boot, if you look at Native American mythology, the old rabbit often represents the trickster. I like that. They’re playful little devils.
How is Easter different in the U.K.?
BRAND: We don’t care about it. In England, we just have some chocolate. That’s it. And then, occasionally a nan or someone will go, “Oh wait, this has to do with Jesus,” and you’re like, “Thanks!” But, there’s none of that Easter egg hunt, the bunnies, the Easter bonnets, or tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree. The Americans have gone hog wild for it. I think we should encourage it. It might distract them.
BRAND: He was a pain in the ass. He was like looking after someone’s teenager. I was like, “James, if you’re going to come here, please sit quietly.” He’s out of control.
He said that you were brilliant to watch.
BRAND: I like James! He’s lovely, isn’t he? We did some lines, but those lines didn’t end up being in the film ‘cause you talk over each other. For the technical requirements for the film, the dialogue has to be isolated and incredibly clear. But, it was interesting exercise in developing the rapport between Jimmy and I, as the central relationship of the film is contingent upon that chemistry.
E.B. has the dream of being a drummer. Did you have any musical aspirations, growing up?
BRAND: There was a brief period where, like a lot of adolescents, I succumbed to the fantasy of becoming a rock ‘n’ roll star. Me and a cousin or two holed ourselves up in a bedroom, but unfortunately we emerged with nothing more than headaches and a mild addiction to marijuana, which has since been beaten. I’m not good at music. I’ve not got the proper rhythm. I can’t do it.
BRAND: Oh, yeah. That was my best bit. I got to be in the film twice, at one moment. That felt like I was getting a lot of attention. I was talking to me, and I was me. A lot of the time when I’m talking, I think, “I’m enjoying saying this, but wouldn’t this be better, if I was saying this to me?” In that situation, that was literally the case, in a mirror. That’s an interesting piece of work from Tim Hill, the director, and perhaps a comment on the fractured nature of the human psyche, the way that perhaps we have many selves. When people say, “How are you today?,” perhaps you’re morose or melancholy, or grandiose, or filled with splendor and a sense of wonder, and that all things are possible. The selves make up our body constantly change. From one day to the next, we can be a different person. So, who are we? What is the self?
What was Tim Hill like to work with, as a director?
BRAND: Tim Hill is lovely. He’s a really good director and he had a really clear vision of what the film was. He was very good at explaining what you needed to be like in each part. He’s clearly got a great understanding of what he wants, as a director, and he’s very gentle. He doesn’t muck around with ego. I liked him a lot. Plus, I think he looks like a human rabbit.
Are you going to do a Booky Wook 3, and would it include anything about your adventures as E.B.?
BRAND: If there was a Booky Wook 3, it would have a bit, but that chapter would just be, “Was in booth, talking. Monday, got up and went back to booth.” In a way, it’s good because a rabbit’s life is mostly spent in the subterranean context of a network of boroughs. We only see them when they’re in the outdoor world, like when you see a teacher from school in the supermarket, in their normal clothes with their normal first name. That’s very unsettling. So, the chapter would not be incredibly informative or picaresque, but the movie that derived from those sessions is very colorful, exciting and interesting.
BRAND: I don’t think so. I think that will confuse people. The gloves are off! Here’s the film about the Easter Bunny with weird undertones and a macabre philosophy. No, I don’t think they can ever release that film. But, I like having the parameters that are required, to work within different genres. I like mucking about and being silly. I really, really love children. Among children is probably when I feel most liberated. I don’t feel like, “Oh, there’s some children here. I have to tone it down.” I go nuts with children, especially because I ain’t got none. So, when I’m around my mates’ children, I jazz them kids up. I swear at them, I get them all worked up, I saw crazy stuff to them and I fill their heads with nonsense, and then I leave them.
Which animated characters did you like, as a kid?
BRAND: I liked Bugs Bunny. He was pretty good ‘cause he’s a bit naughty. I couldn’t see what was going on with Daffy Duck. He seemed like he was angry about something. But, my favorite one was Pinocchio. I liked that kid. He was made of wood. I liked that, for a start. I also liked how he’d lie and his nose would grow. I liked the morality of that. I also liked that he had to go and live on that island with all those weird boys turning into donkeys. I like when children’s stories suddenly go all freaky on you. I like all the names of everyone in Pinocchio.
Are you looking forward to having kids of your own, at some point?
BRAND: No way! I just has a vasectomy. No, of course! I love children.