Life hasn't been a bed of roses recently for Russell Brand. Since splitting from singer wife Katy Perry last December, the star of films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek has been arrested in the US (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, Brand has landed on his feet once again, with a new British television program as well as his own topical show in America.

The temper's not completely under control, however. 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.

But Brand is in a good mood today, letting out a piercing scream as he walks in. "I'm spectacular," he declares, playing with the chains around his neck.

He looks ever the rock star, cutting a rakish figure in a white V-neck T-shirt emblazoned with screen legends, signature skin-tight jeans tucked into boots, and with his beard and mop of black hair 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," Brand says.

The former substance addict admits the role reminded him of his past: "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 1980s rockers such as Bon Jovi, Foreigner and Journey, who all feature on the film's soundtrack. "I was into the Smiths, the Cure and stuff like that. But once I did this film, I decided I liked it because it's very happy and jolly."

Brand describes Cruise as kind, generous and a powerful force. But he keeps the highest praise for his co-star Baldwin, with whom he shares a kiss in one scene.

"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. "In the first few takes I deliberately made it go wrong just so I could kiss him more often.

"Any scene that I'm in with him - a fight, cuddle scene or full nude erotica - I'm completely overjoyed to be in the man's company. And Alec really encouraged me."

This naughty humour is typical Brand, who is also quite spiritual.

He practises transcendental meditation and is a vocal supporter of the Tibetan cause. Brand's rise to fame has not been straightforward. The former stand-up comic and MTV presenter told of his drug and sex addictions in 2007's My Booky Wook.

Asked how his recovery is going, Brand says: "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.

"Someone said to me once that all desire is the inappropriate substitute for the desire to be one with God, so whether it's 'I want West Ham to win' or 'I need these new shoes' or 'I must have that woman love me', that is the yearning within you to be connected to God. Once you give up being an addict, you realise you don't really need anything."

Brand, who is "doing well" in the wake of his divorce from Perry, to be finalised next month, and rumoured to be dating Hungarian model Nikolett Barabas, says 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. Human beings aren't meant to receive that kind of devotion. That's why it says in the Bible 'Don't worship false idols'."

He's also philosophical about criticism: "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."

He pauses, before adding: "Sometimes you say something really profound and you think 'Hold on a minute, isn't that like a Mike and The Mechanics lyric?'"

As he makes his exit, Brand points to the tattoo on his left arm.

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they will kill you. That's from Oscar Wilde." <div class="endnote">


The West Australian

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