Russell Brand takes sobriety to new level in "Tempest"

Wed Dec 8, 2010 6:20pm EST
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Russell Brand is not exactly the actor one thinks of when seeing a Shakespearean drama, but he figures prominently in new film "The Tempest" -- and it's not the first time he's taken on The Bard.

Years ago in London drama school during his heyday of drug use -- an image he once cultivated -- Brand took the title role in a production of "Macbeth."

"I took a big load of amphetamines, drank half a bottle of whiskey and staggered out as Macbeth," the actor and comedian told Reuters. "Before I went on, I tried to get myself in the right mood, so I was smashing stuff up in the back room, cut my hands and tried to make myself puke."

The result?

"It was bloody stupid because I was sick everywhere," said Brand. "Some people in the audience thought it was brilliant because they liked that I was intense and mad. The people that ran the drama school said 'That's not what we're after.'"

Brand was kicked out of theater school shortly thereafter, but now a second chance to redeem himself has come along.

"The Tempest," directed by Julie Taymor, opens on Friday in theaters in New York in Los Angeles and expands to other U.S. cities December 17. These days Brand is a new man -- drug-free, sober and married to "Teenage Dream" singer Katy Perry. The pair were married in October and are currently one of the hottest couples making the covers of celebrity magazines.

In "The Tempest" he plays Trinculo, whom the actor describes as a "slivering castaway jester" in Taymor's gender-bending version of Shakespeare's original. Helen Mirren stars as Prospera, who is struggling for control of the island. In the original, the character is a male named Prospero.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Russell Brand is interviewed at the premiere of his film "The Tempest" in Hollywood December 6, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>