For comedian Russell Brand, updating the drunken, childish millionaire made famous by Dudley Moore 30 years ago in Arthur came naturally — perhaps a little too naturally.
“I’m such a thorough actor that I did two decades of research into alcoholism just to make sure it was 100 per cent right,” jokes Brand, himself a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. “The difference, of course, is that Arthur is a fictional alcoholic and has much more latitude for clowning and fun, and often his adventures don’t lead to broken glass and howling women.”
Playing opposite Greta Gerwig was a treat, Brand admits.
“We saw loads and loads of different actresses, which was alright — but of course I was already on the way to getting married then, so I couldn’t enjoy it like the good old days, where auditions had a rather more primal quality,” Brand jokes.
But there was something about Gerwig’s reading that left an impression.
“Afterward I was sitting quietly and (director) Jason (Winer) said, ‘Oh, what’s the matter?’ I said, ‘I feel sad now that she’s gone,’” Brand says. “And it’s because I enjoyed playing with her. She has such a brilliant imagination, she’s a great improviser with a wonderful understanding of comedy, a wide range of ideas, peculiar choices — but good peculiar.”
Gerwig even admits that she’s developed a serious crush on her co-star, something Brand smarts at the notion of.
“Can’t do nothing about it now. Just useless,” he says. “Just a wonderful, useless thing, like a yacht in the middle of Idaho.”