At one point during the mid-noughties, there was no bigger name in the realms of UK pop culture than Russell Brand, the international subversive funny man that looked like something of a mix between Johnny Depp and Austin Powers. Rising through the ranks of British television through the 1990s and early new millennium, Brand became a controversial comedian who was unafraid to speak his mind.
Not too long after, Brand would take to Hollywood with surprising success, appearing in big-budget comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall with Kristen Bell, Paul Rudd, Jason Segal, Mila Kunis, Bill Hader and Jonah Hill. Brand then took a starring role in the comedy Get Him to The Greek as well as the popular animation Despicable Me, before falling out of favour somewhat toward the 2010s.
Mellowing out in recent years, Brand has become a podcaster and minor political activist as well as a successful comic with his personality having become a little more palatable since his time on stage. Speaking to Rotten Tomatoes at the height of his success in 2010, the actor revealed his five favourite films of all time, choosing a good handful of classics and one typically provocative choice.
Choosing a comedy first and foremost, Brand picks out the classic British staple Monty Python’s Life of Brian, directed by Terry Jones. A comedy that satirises the life of Jesus Christ, Jones’ film tells the story of Brian of Nazareth who spends his entire life being mistaken for the messiah. Featuring the familiar likes of John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin, Life of Brian is often considered to be the comedy troupe’s greatest movie.
A lover of comedy as well as classic movies, Brand’s second choice is Miloš Forman’s adaptation of Ken Kesey’s iconic novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Starring Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and Louise Fletcher, Forman’s influential Oscar-winner tells the story of a prisoner who fakes insanity to be sent to a mental facility, only to feel incensed into overturning his new hospital’s cruel ways.
Speaking of classics, Brand looks to the experimental American filmmaker David Lynch for his third pick, choosing the 1980 drama The Elephant Man starring John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins. A well-known eight-time nominated Academy Award movie, the film follows a Victorian surgeon who rescues a disfigured man, revealing the true person underneath the surface.
His most modern choice is the sci-fi masterpiece The Matrix from sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski, a film that explores an apocalyptic future in which humanity is enslaved by machines who have plugged billions of people into a blissful virtual reality. Starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving, The Matrix is considered to be one of the most important action movies of all time.
Bookending Russell Brand’s list is a rather predictably subversive choice, opting for the 1980s adult movie, Garage Girls by Gary Graver. “I love all sorts of videos, but mostly Garage Girls,” the comedian told Radar in 2010, with the ‘80s porn film containing all the classic cliches you would expect of the racy genre, telling the ‘story’ of a group of girls who work at a garage yet prefer an altogether different kind of exhaust pipe.
Russell Brand’s five favourite movies of all time:
- The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980)
- Garage Girls (Gary Graver, 1980)
- The Matrix (Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, 1999)
- Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)