As feelgood romp Rock of Ages hits cinemas nationwide, we sat down with the former hellraiser, scourge of the Daily Mail and former winner of the Sun's Shagger of the Year award, to discuss rock 'n' roll, musicals and co-stars Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise.
Director Adam Shankman said you were rock 'n' roll personified - do you agree with that?
Russell Brand: I agree with him in that he is my director in this project - which actually has now terminated... I think Adam is a wonderful director and I can see why people would say "rock 'n' roll" because I have that hair and a tendency to be self-destructive, formerly. So those things are in alignment with rock 'n' roll. But the thing I find appealing about the music is that it anthemises the idea of anti-establishent thinking, of progression. So that's an appealing way to interpret that compliment, and it's the way that I've chosen to!
Did you get behind the political message of the film?
Russell Brand: Ha! That's the reason I did the film! (laughs) I see this as a powerful political drama - this is my Das Boot! It's interesting how you can commodify anything, even a political message and I suppose they had a lot of that Presbyterian, anti-Libertine dogma in the 80s with Nancy Reagan and that Tipper Gore - they were against people f*****g each other.
You mentioned the appeal of the anti-establishment side of rock 'n' roll but was that actually a genre of music you liked? You're a big Smiths fan and Morrissey and, say, Whitesnake don't really go together...
Russell Brand: I don't think they'd get on! I don't think Morrissey would stay in that room for more than a minute, on the basis of the name alone! No, this isn't a type of music I particularly listened to when I grew up - where I was from in Essex, if you liked that kind of music, you weren't right! The lad over the road, David Boatman, he looked nuts and he was into that. But look how I started to dress for the time I had that sort of Johnny Thunders hair [in the early Noughties]. I think the people perhaps in our country rejected that genre is because it took some of the superficial elements of rock 'n' roll's revolutionary spirit and plasticised and commodified them. But it's only a musical romp, this film, and while I was doing [it], I had a right laugh.
Are you a fan of musicals?
Russell Brand: I didn't think I was, but Oliver - that's good, innit? [Does Fagin impression] - I'm reviewing, the situation... I think it was Vincente Mincelli said [the musical] was the perfect art-form. I like Jesus Christ Superstar too and I like the ebullience of it - remember I was at Italia Conti [stage school] for a year so somewhere in me I've got that 'ra-ta-ta-ta!' stuff.
And you started in Bugsy Malone...
Russell Brand: That's right, as Fat Sam, though I didn't get a song which, in retrospect, I would have liked.
Did you have to learn new skills for the film?
Russell Brand: Not really - you have to do the dancing, but I wouldn't call it a skill! (laughs) I haven't seen Britain's Got Talent but I know a dog won - does he even know what he's doing? He doesn't, he's not sitting there going [claps] "Right, Britain's Got Talent tonight, ok!" It just think it's going to get some food at some point so it'll contort its body into ridiculous shapes - and that's how I learnt to dance, someone held a sugar cube and I'd just totter around.
How do you like the final result?
Russell Brand: I think it's a fantastic, joyous romp of a film and I thought my dancing was lovely.
And was your kiss with Alec Baldwin intended to be a surprisingly touching moment?
Russell Brand: I love that man, as it turns out. Over the course of the production, I came to adore him. He's very powerful, full of integrity, a sweet human being, really brilliant actor, knows how to do things technically, strong, dominant - honestly, I loved him.
Did you base your look in the film on Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue?
Russell Brand: Nicola who does me hair and make-up and Rita, the lady in wardrobe, they did - I just went, 'Yeah, alright, if you like...' It's only pretending clothes, I'll take 'em off when I go home!
Who's the ultimate rocker? Your former character Aldous Snow, or Tom Cruise's character in Rock of Ages, Stacee Jaxx?
Russell Brand: I think my one's better, 'cos I I have to live with me, and I see Tom Cruise only occasionally... (laughs) Hang on, this is an opportunity to be modest! I choose the other thing...
Would you have liked the role of Stacee Jaxx?
Russell Brand: Dunno, it's a lot of work, all that dancing... No, I don't think so. Also, I've done things that are a bit like that in other films, strutting around. I don't fancy doing anything where I've got to compete with Tom Cruise.