Reporter: Liz Hayes
Producers: Phil Goyen, Sandra Cleary
Liz Hayes admits she was a little wary. But who wouldn't be matching wits with British comedian Russell Brand?
He's outrageously funny, famously potty-mouthed and both charming and abrasive, in turns.
So Liz didn't know what to expect when she met him in Los Angeles recently.
The only certainty was that Liz wouldn't forget the experience in a hurry.
For more information on Russell Brand's Australian tour later this year, visit www.abpresents.com.au or www.russellbrand.tv.
STORY – LIZ HAYES: You smell good. What are you wearing?
RUSSELL: That’s just my own sperm. No, no, I don’t know. It’s like coconut stuff. Fancy a coconut?
LIZ HAYES: It works a treat. Oh my goodness. Yep, this is Russell Brand.
RUSSELL: Are you known for being a kinky woman in Australia?
LIZ HAYES: No, not for my kinkiness, no but -
RUSSELL: Maybe now.
LIZ HAYES: Maybe.
RUSSELL: That was a nice noise you just made.
LIZ HAYES: - the outrageous British comedian, whose wild antics have taken him all the way to the studios of Hollywood. What is -
RUSSELL: Is this the interview now?
LIZ HAYES: This is it. Are you ready?
RUSSELL Are you just going to lean in - that’s how it indicates the commencement? What is?
LIZ HAYES: What is a nice English boy doing in a place like Hollywood?
RUSSELL: Well, a lot of yoga, occasionally making films, making television.
LIZ HAYES: But it was a place that I don’t think you thought that you’d ever get to.
RUSSELL: Like, do you just mean because of criminal convictions and stuff?
LIZ HAYES: Perhaps.
RUSSELL: And I’d like to remind you, before you go any further on that subject, that you are Australian.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Russell Brand.
LIZ HAYES: At 37, Russell Brand, a former heroin and sex addict and recovering alcoholic, has enjoyed extraordinary success as a stand-up comedian -
RUSSELL: My personality doesn’t work without fame - without fame, this haircut just looks like mental illness.
LIZ HAYES: - a Hollywood actor –
RUSSELL: Sometimes I think that I was Frank Sinatra in a past life, even though I was born before he died.
LIZ HAYES: - and, lo and behold, as a singer at the spectacular closing ceremony of the London Olympics.
RUSSELL: The people of Australia, you’re right about the Olympics - it gets you angry because you didn’t get enough golden medallions.
LIZ HAYES: We did ok.
RUSSELL: How many gold medallions did you get?
LIZ HAYES: Oh, who cares?
RUSSELL: It’s about taking part, innit?
LIZ HAYES: That’s right.
RUSSELL: And you really took part.
LIZ HAYES: You tore your pants, didn’t you?
RUSSELL: And I only had like Scotch tape to do them up. It was like 20 seconds before, my pants tore in the worst place that pants can tear, there, the nut undercarriage. So I had to put Sellotape on the inside of it, and I’ll tell you something - Sellotape - it doesn’t respond well to bending. It forms corners, so it was like an alpine mountain range stabbing up into my nuts while I was trying to be in the Olympics.
LIZ HAYES: If there were gold medals for sexual conquests, Russell Brand would have plenty. This is a man whose appetite for women and sex has been insatiable. You were classified as a sex addict. I’m going to blush, but what’s too much?
RUSSELL: I can’t hurt you from here, Liz.
LIZ HAYES: What is too much sex?
RUSSELL: Well look, it’s like with addiction - I think what it is, is any behavior that you engage in compulsively even though it’s detrimental to your life. If when you’re taking drugs or eating chocolate or having sex, it’s making your life worse, and yet you cannot stop, that’s addiction, and you should look at it.
LIZ HAYES: How was it destructive for you?
RUSSELL: Well, if you’re sleeping with so many people that you can’t get to work, or you’re not being properly discerning about who the people are that you’re sleeping with, then people sort of - they’re eventually going to get into trouble. It’s just a numbers game, innit? Sooner or later it’s going to be a married person, or you’re going to pick up something unforgiveable and unrelenting. But I’ve been very, very lucky.
LIZ HAYES: You still though, you don’t seem too upset about being Shagger of the Year.
RUSSELL: I’m very proud of that accolade. Three times Shagger of the Year - three consecutive years. I was a Donald Bradman of shagging.
LIZ HAYES: But eventually Russell did decide to settle on one woman - pop-star Katy Perry.
PAPARAZZO: Are you guys going to have kids soon?
RUSSELL: We’re just going to take other people’s.
LIZ HAYES: The two quickly became THE Hollywood couple - a favourite of the paparazzi and tabloids. They married in India in 2010, but 14 months later, Brand filed for divorce. As seen in her recent documentary, Perry was devastated.
KATY: I mean, I’m a romantic, and I kind of believe in this fairytale, and then I started to realise, oh my God, like, that fairytale that I had is not true for me right now.
RUSSELL: Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it don't. But if you sort of sense there’s an incompatibility, then in any relationship regardless of the status of the individual, it kind of is best to go separate ways.
LIZ HAYES: Is one of the requirements, to be a partner of Russell Brand, to have the same philosophies as you? Do you need your partner to think like you?
RUSSELL: I don't know really, because I sort of find so many different people interesting. I think if you’re someone who’s really into mountain biking, it would be good to go out with someone else who’s into mountain biking, and if you’re really into Eastern mysticism, go out with someone else who into Eastern mysticism. I think if you’re a devoted tennis professional and you get married to a crystal meth addict, you might have trouble. I’ve been in a lot of trouble. I keep getting in trouble, the police keep getting involved in my driving, that’s not good. Anyone will tell you.
LIZ HAYES: Oh my God. If I hang onto you, it’s because I’ve got no choice.
RUSSELL: You hang on to me.
LIZ HAYES: Stepping into Russell’s world was always going to be interesting. Russell, you are a naughty boy.
RUSSELL: Yeah, I am.
LIZ HAYES: What’s supposed to be a nice little tour of the Warner Brothers backlot quickly turns into Russell Brand madness.
RUSSELL: But what happens if you drive through it?
LIZ HAYES: We break through barriers, speed past studios and tourists -
RUSSELL: Are you all Australians? 60 Minutes!
LIZ HAYES: - before making an unannounced entrance onto a set.
RUSSELL: Where are we?
LIZ HAYES: I don’t know.
RUSSELL: I wonder what this TV program?
LIZ HAYES: You seemed to be a little naughty boy from the beginning
RUSSELL: You said that in a flirtatious way.
LIZ HAYES: I did. What was it, do you think? I mean, there was just something rebellious inside of you?
RUSSELL: I don’t trust authority. In my experience, authority figures have been unreliable, so for me, when people are saying don’t do something, I sort of think, well, why? I sort of question authority figures.
LIZ HAYES: You still have that?
LIZ HAYES: You’re naughty still?
RUSSELL: Yeah. I’m a tricky little swine, I’m a trickster.
LIZ HAYES: Aren’t you?
RUSSELL: I’m a raven, I’m a playful coyote looking for mischief.
LIZ HAYES: In the early days there wasn’t much for Russell to laugh about. He grew up in working-class Britain - the only child in a family that fractured when he was just six months old.
RUSSELL: Complete nudity has got to be worth, I’m thinking, a cauliflower.
LIZ HAYES: Always a showman, he soon found an audience in comedy.
RUSSELL: I don’t like Google’s attitude in general, actually. Like if you make one little spelling mistake, “did you mean -” in like sarcastic Italics.
LIZ HAYES: Are you an actor or are you a comedian?
LIZ HAYES: That’s what gives you pure joy first up.
RUSSELL: Yeah, acting’s like a job. I like it, it’s really nice, you get to work with nice people, but comedy is what I do.
LIZ HAYES: And is comedy something that saved you, do you think, when you were a kid?
LIZ HAYES: That’s where it all came from.
RUSSELL: I do think that Liz, I think it formed a barrier between me and the unbearable pain of being alive, both watching it and do it. It’s the most important thing to me.
LIZ HAYES: For a long time drugs were also very important to Russell.
RUSSELL: I think I was probably at my worst doing 100 quid a day.
LIZ HAYES: For 11 years, he battled a chronic addiction to heroin. I noticed in your documentary about drugs, there was a moment when you got excited, it was still there, that memory of what it did for you.
RUSSELL: There’s a pang of, because it was a good friend, you know. It’s a very comforting thing to be able to take drugs, and it’s irrational. You don’t think “that was the thing that destroyed my life and got me into a lot of trouble,” you sort of just remember that sort of warm, snug glow.
LIZ HAYES: What made you do you think ultimately get out of drugs?
RUSSELL: It stopped working. Like, you know, it doesn’t work - it only works for a little while. Most people that are addicted to drugs are doing it for medicinal reasons because they’re all sad inside.
LIZ HAYES: Were you sad inside?
RUSSELL Oh my God yeah.
LIZ HAYES: Your mum even said though that one day she was frightened that she would learn you had died.
RUSSELL: Yeah, I mean, if you’re messing around with drugs and alcohol and getting in trouble with the law then I suppose so, but I’m very, very fortunate. But it’s only when contrasted with my life now, when I’m a man in an interview with a woman with impeccable hair, with a crystal on my lap, that’s when you think well, this isn’t crystal meth, that’s literally crystal, if you smoke that, all you’ll get is enlightened.
LIZ HAYES: Back in Russell’s bandit buggy, the lights are getting darker, and things are getting worse -
LIZ HAYES: - and worse.
RUSSELL: We’re stuck, Liz, we’re stuck on the set of a show that we don’t even know what the show is.
LIZ HAYES: This is not something I ever expected.
RUSSELL: Remember, I’m not very good at driving. I told you that.
LIZ HAYES: Stuck, alone in the dark, with Russell Brand.
RUSSELL: Oh no, not again! Why does that keep happening to us, Liz?
LIZ HAYES: Half an hour later, and a buggy that won’t budge. Do you want me to help you?
RUSSELL: No, I mean, that’s a ridiculous plan.
LIZ HAYES: We’ll never tell them where it is. We walk away, and call for help.
RUSSELL: I’m at Stage 25, the corner of 4th Street and Avenue F, aka the set of “Two-and-a-Half Men”, unlike the golf cart which is in Stage 7, opposite Building 41, wedged onto an actual set.
BYSTANDER: Well maybe he was just having fun and got stuck.
LIZ HAYES: Wherever Russell goes, trouble happily follows. But he doesn’t really mind, as it’s all material for his comedy show Australians will see later this year.
RUSSELL: That’s the Backstreet Boys, there, you see? That’s Rove!
ROVE: Russell Brand!
RUSSELL: How you doing? What’s going on? Well I’m just hanging out doing 60 Minutes with Liz, ain’t I? What you doing?
LIZ HAYES: Is no subject taboo?
RUSSELL: I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so.
LIZ HAYES: Okay, so Australian can expect what?
RUSSELL: Very little - they’ve been born Australian, they’re very lucky to be alive at all. I love it in your country, so I’m going to go mental. It’s going to be arenas full of people, I want bacchanalian chaos. I want revelry and mayhem and madness. You’re going to meet people – people are going to come hard.
LIZ HAYES: Russell Brand is such a contradiction - the bad boy who’s no longer that bad, a clean-living, yoga-loving trickster who’s totally unpredictable.
RUSSELL: I’ve been in “Two-and-a-Half Men”! I played a waiter.
LIZ HAYES: Someone, for any number of reasons, you won’t forget.
RUSSELL: Liz, that’s your fault because you took your eye off the road, because things were getting a bit fruity out there. Alright Liz, goodbye.
LIZ HAYES: Thank you.
RUSSELL: Well it’s been really a wonderful experience. See you later, Liz.
LIZ HAYES: Russell.
RUSSELL: That’s ok, I can undo your bra just like this. Liz, I love you!