Life hasn’t been a bed of roses recently for Russell Brand.
Since his highly-publicised split from singer wife Katy Perry last December, the star of films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek has been arrested by US police, for allegedly throwing a photographer’s phone into a window, and has allowed his temper to get the better of him on stage.
But like a cat with nine lives, Russell has landed on his feet once again, winning his first TV show, Brand X, on UK television since the Sachsgate scandal, as well as his own topical show in America.
The temper’s not completely under control though. Just days ago, at the London premiere of his new film Rock Of Ages, the 37-year-old snapped back at crowd revellers after they shouted that he looked like “Jesus” and “a homeless person”.
Luckily today, Russell is in a good mood, letting out a piercing scream as he enters the room.
“I’m spectacular,” he declares, as he plays with the chains hanging around his neck.
He looks ever the rock star: his rakish figure shown off in a white V-neck T-shirt emblazoned with screen legends, signature skin-tight jeans tucked into boots, and his beard and mop of wavy black hair are impeccably styled to look dishevelled.
His mood constantly switches, from jokey to serious, flirtatious to intense.
The Essex-born actor is promoting his role as hard-partying club worker Lonny in Adam Shankman’s big-screen adaptation of the west-end musical, which also stars Tom Cruise as rock star Stacee Jaxx and Alec Baldwin as club owner Dennis Dupree.
“Lonny represents the spirit of rock as the spirit of freedom and change. He and Dennis are true rock’n’roll veterans, and Lonny’s devoted to the music and to the club,” says Russell.
The former substance addict admits the role in the musical reminded him of his past, saying: “When I was lying on the toilet floor I thought, ‘Hello, here we are again . . . on my own’.”
But he wasn’t a big fan of 80s rock, such as Bon Jovi, Foreigner and Journey, who all feature on the film’s soundtrack.
Russell describes his co-star Cruise as “kind and generous”.
But he keeps the highest praise for his co-star Baldwin, as the pair share a kiss in one scene. Despite his previous close encounters with Dame Helen Mirren and Jonah Hill, the actor rates this as one of his favourites.
“Alec Baldwin has been one of the great kisses of my life. He’s just beautiful to be around. I’d do anything with him,” he says cheekily.
“He’s charismatic, authoritative and playful; I liken him to a great British theatrical knight. Plus he’s got endless anecdotes and spellbinding, twinkling eyes.”
This naughty humour is typical Russell, who may have lived the rock-star life but is actually quite a spiritual person at heart, practising transcendental meditation.
He’s also a vocal supporter of the Tibetan cause, and is set to meet the Dalai Lama on stage in Manchester, acting as master of ceremonies for the Tibetan spiritual leader’s address.
Russell’s rise to fame has not been straightforward. The former stand-up comic and MTV presenter has already opened up about his drug and sex addictions in 2007’s My Booky Wook and, a year later, came the infamous Sachsgate scandal involving that now-notorious phone call to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.
Asked how his recovery is going, he replies: “I have a tendency to get addicted to things. When you take away the addiction, you have to think a lot more to find what you’re looking for in the first place.
Russell, who is “doing well” in the wake of his divorce from Perry (due to be finalised in July) and rumoured to be dating Hungarian model Nikolett Barabas, admits his “celebrity” status makes him uncomfortable.
“I find it hard to receive idolatry. I just ignore the spotlight – I mean, it’s not real unless you’re actually in stand-up comedy,” he quips.
The actor, who has a cat named Morrissey after his favourite musician, adds: “Human beings aren’t meant to receive that kind of devotion, they will fail you because they are fallible. That’s why it says in the Bible, ‘Don’t worship false idols’.”
He’s also philosophical about criticism: “People are gonna get criticised anyway. I think it’s more indicative of an endemic culture of criticism and negativity.
“This is why we need spirituality to be at the forefront of our lives. Young people should not be looking at other individuals, they should be looking at their own relationship with a higher power. I would recommend searching for heroes inside yourself.”
Following Rock Of Ages, Russell is set to reprise his voice role as Dr Nefario in the Despicable Me sequel, but his next big-screen outing is in Diablo Cody’s directorial debut.
As he makes his exit, Russell points to the tattoo running alongside his left arm.
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh otherwise they will kill you – that’s from Oscar Wilde.”
Rock Of Ages is in cinemas now.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984) – Rob Reiner’s “rockumentary” follows fictional rock band Spinal Tap in decline.
Still Crazy (1998) – Stephen Rea, Billy Connolly, Bill Nighy, Timothy Spall and Jimmy Nail make up fictional 1970s rock band Strange Fruit in the Golden Globe-nominated comedy.
Almost Famous (2000) – Cameron Crowe’s personal experiences with Rolling Stone inspired this film, which stars Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup.
School Of Rock (2003) – Failing rock singer Jack Black disguises himself as a teacher and forms a band with his pupils in Richard Linklater’s comedy.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) – John C. Reilly stars as rock star Dewey Cox in the musical parody, written by Judd Apatow.