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Get Him to the Greek – How Russell Brand milked a shower of sparks

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Get Him to the Greek - Jonah Hill and Russell Brand
Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) and British rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) © Universal Pictures

Russell Brand reprises his role of British rocker Aldous Snow, which he first played in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, for Judd Apatow’s new movie Get Him to the Greek. Snow, a brilliant musician, due to a bad break-up and nose-diving career, has fallen off-the-wagon and is now a walking disaster.


Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is an ambitious 24-year-old who has been given the assignment of his career – flying to London and escorting Aldous Snow to the famous Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, for his huge comeback performance.

Jonah Hill and Russell Brand had such great chemistry in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, that writer/director Nicholas Stoller knew immediately he wanted to reunite them on screen. Unlike Brand, Hill is not reprising the role he played in Sarah Marshall, Matthew the waiter, the enthusiastic groupie who tried to pass Aldous Snow new songs. As Aaron Green, he has a tougher job. He has to coax, lie, enable, party with Aldous in order to get him to the Greek on time.

The press conference for the movie was held outdoors at the Greek Theatre, where Russell Brand spoke about his inner rock star!

I was really impressed with the dramatic work you did in this film. Did you take this because it was a chance for you to show that part of yourself?

Get Him to the Greek - Russell Brand
British rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) © Universal Pictures

Actually, no. I had assumed that the movie would be comedic throughout, that it would be a rip-roaring, roller coaster ride of giggles, chuckles, guffaws and laughs.

When I arrived on set and suddenly I was expected to do crying and shouting, initially, I spoke to my management and said, ‘Look, they’re asking me to show genuine emotions. Is that in my contract?’

They then said that acting done properly encompasses a whole variety and range of emotions and by then it was too late. I’d agreed to it.

I was forced to do it. When it was going on I was thinking, ‘I just want to be saying things that are funny all the time.’ But when I watched it, I think it makes me look quite cool and deep. So, thanks. That’s what I was hoping for.

Did you feel any pressure to continue the character you played in Sarah Marshall?

No, I didn’t feel any pressure at all. They said that they liked that character and my relationship with Jonah – that’s why the film was being made. But in a way this is a very distinct and separate film. It has a different gravitas and emotional intensity to it.

What about your own childhood rock star fantasies? Did you have them? And when you got onstage here, did that fulfill those?

You know, it did. I thought, just be a rock star, it’s not like anyone can go, ‘Cut! Who the hell do you think you are? That was embarrassing.’ So, I just completely released a lot of childhood fantasies. A good many of my other childhood fantasies have been rightly repressed, as they are dangerous. They involved a utopia in which there is no money and everyone is topless.

Do you think this character will resurface again? It’s already come up twice now.

Get Him to the Greek - Russell Brand
Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) © Universal Pictures

This character keeps resurfacing like a corpse abandoned in the Thames. We will never be free of it. Never. Unless we tie concrete to his ankles and abandon him in some deeper body of water. I think that perhaps he will return again and again.

Perhaps it will be like the new ‘James Bond’ or the new ‘Sherlock Holmes.’

What was the most memorable scene that you shot in the film?

In the scene where I’m on the stage with the Greek, performing, there is a shower of sparks, right? They put me in the wrong place one time and the shower of sparks all landed on me. And I thought, ‘Should this be happening?’ And go about continuing to act, but it’s hard when there’s all those hot things landing on you.

I stopped. It was like being stabbed. It was a peculiar storm of fire. So I asked if it could stop now. It’s quite good.

I got a lot of attention afterwards, ‘Oh, sorry. That should never have happened to you. Are you all right?’ And I laid down on the couch for a while. Just milked it.

Do you have a favorite concert of your own that you’ve gone to over the years?

Morrissey! Alcohol, I took too much heroin, made me feel a bit ill. But Morrissey was still brilliant.

You’re about to start shooting a remake of Arthur, are you looking forward to it?

I am looking forward to playing Arthur. I’m excited about it because I love Dudley Moore. My dad’s from the same place as him, Dagenham. I’m from about ten miles away from there, Grays.

Oscar winning actress, Helen Mirren, is playing the John Gielgud role as a nanny because remember, I’m much more a person that tends towards feminine things. I like women, so I’m easier around them.

The love interest will be reprised by Liza Minnelli. She will be revisiting the role and I am going to have an onset romance with that woman. I’m going to turn her spine to chalk.

When are you going to start shooting that?

July. Actually, the role is being taken by the brilliant actress, Greta Gerwig, from the film Greenberg with Ben Stiller. She’s a very, very wonderful actor and I’m thrilled to be working with her.